While it is nice to see cars on the track today at Sebring International Raceway testing the 2018 universal aero kit, it is the time of the off-season where IndyCar fans are so starved of action that the release of a series rule book becomes somewhat appetizing.
Yesterday, IndyCar confirmed changes to a few procedures such as point distribution for Indianapolis 500 qualifying and the way in which qualifying order will be determined for oval events – news that was relayed to fans months ago. Additional publicized changes included a finalized test date for Portland International Raceway’s IndyCar return as well as a reduction in practice days at the Indianapolis 500 (much to the dismay of IndyCar fans).
We will go in-depth a bit more on those changes below, but it also got us interested in some of the other bits included in the IndyCar rule book that fans may (or may not) be interested in. Some quirks will be for the real gear heads of the sport, while some will be of assistance to the casual fan.
With all of this and more, lets get started.
Rule Changes for 2018
As previously mentioned, IndyCar released the official confirmation of major rule changes for the 2018 season on Tuesday. Most of these announcements were merely confirmations of changes previously reported, with changes ranging from tire allotments to minimum car weights.
Firestone and IndyCar Increase Tire Allotments
One of the rumors from this offseason that was confirmed by the sanctioning body this week, tire manufacturer Firestone and IndyCar came to an agreement to present additional sets of tires to teams at select tracks in 2018.
In chronological order of their appearance on the 2018 schedule, events at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto, and Iowa Speedway will each add one set of tires to the 2017 allotment regulation.
Also filed in the “old news” category, IndyCar made public note that teams outside the top 10 in driver points will no longer receive an extra set of tires for race weekends, a popular elimination in the paddock.
IndyCar Grants Select Teams Half Day of Testing
Initially, it was reported that teams who did not participate in the 2017 round of universal aero kit testing would receive a full day of private testing added to their team totals for the 2018 preseason.
IndyCar made public on Tuesday that while there will be some relief for squads such as Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and others, it will be just for a half day of on-track activity. The rules regarding this addition are somewhat strict as well. Per IndyCar:
“The testing is limited to one car per team and must take place in conjunction with the team’s first on-track test of 2018. Each team is permitted five hours of track time and two sets of Firestone tires.”
Month of May Loses a Practice Day
Already an unpopular move to the IndyCar faithful, the series announced that the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice in 2018 will commence on the first Tuesday following the IndyCar Grand Prix. This is a change from the most recent procedure, where practice on the oval would begin on the first Monday following Indianapolis’ road course race.
The adjustment was made as IndyCar has decided that the garage area will be closed on Sunday, May 13 for Mother’s Day. Gasoline Alley and the IndyCar garages will re-open on Monday, May 14 with no track activity scheduled for that day.
Tuesday, May 15 will be the first day of on-track activity on the ledger, with two hours set aside for rookie orientation and four hours open to the rest of the field.
Interestingly enough, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has made public that Bronze Badge holders will still have access to the garages on the closed track day, Monday, May 14. Gates to the Speedway will open at 10:00 AM, and close at 6:00 PM for each day of practice.
Minimum Weight Increased for 2018 Car
To compensate for some of the weight shed when IndyCar eliminated the rear wheel pods and some other bits from the 2017 manufacturer aero kits, the series announced that the minimum car weight for 2018 will be 1,620 pounds for road courses, street courses, and short ovals.
On speedways such as Indianapolis, Pocono and Texas, the weight minimum will be 1,590 pounds. Neither of these totals include the weight that will be added for fuel, the driver’s on-board drinking bottle, the driver itself and their driver equivalency weight.
Oval Qualifying Order Procedure
New for 2018, the order in which teams qualify will now be determined by a reverse order of entrant points for each car. In previous seasons, teams would draw for the order in which cars took to the track in qualifying.
With this rule adjustment the process will now favor teams ranked highest in points, as those cars will qualify later in the session when rubber has been laid down on the track. Smaller teams and part-time efforts will most likely be punished the most as their entrant point totals will force them to be the ones laying rubber for the more successful entries.
The only exception to this rule is the Indianapolis 500 and its qualifying procedures. The order in which teams qualify for Indianapolis will continue to be determined by a blind draw.
Test Date Added for Portland
Ahead of the first IndyCar race in the Pacific Northwest since 2007, teams will get an extra day than previously planned to turn laps at the Portland International Raceway. The sanctioning body has added August 30 as a series-wide open test, just before official practice for the event opens on Friday, August 31.
The IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland will be held on Sunday, September 2 with NBCSN’s coverage starting at 2:30 PM Eastern.
More on the IndyCar Rule Book
Now that we have 2018’s most notable updates out of the way, lets dive into the 92-page document itself.
The IndyCar rule book is filled with (predictably) many monotonous procedures and lines of language that seem pretty commonplace. For some, it may be an endless land of black and white text with restrictions that stretch for miles. At Open-Wheels, we don’t see it that way! At least not on January 24, for that matter.
Take a look at some random, interesting rules and fun items of note within the 2018 IndyCar rule book (all excerpts courtesy of IndyCar).
- 2.7, Determination of Fitness: Members acknowledge that while the INDYCAR medical professionals render an opinion as to fitness, the final determination of a member’s ability to participate is made by INDYCAR in good faith.
- 18.104.22.168, Car Registration: Car Names – A Car must have a name that shall be identified on the entry form. The entrant represents to INDYCAR that it has the right to use that car name. The car name is subject to the approval of INDYCAR and must not exceed 35 characters, including all spaces and punctuation.
- 22.214.171.124.11, Car Registration: Rookie Driver Designation – Rookie drivers must have the rear of the attenuator displayed in a fluorescent yellow at all events.
- 6.6.10, Media/TV/Photograph Tests: Each entrant has additional test day(s) for promotion, sponsor commercial or special marketing needs, subject to INDYCAR approval.
- 6.7.4, Tires: If an entrant does not use all of its allotted tires during a race event, any new/unused tires are added to the entrant’s test allocation. These tires are not race location specific and are subject to availability. New/unused sets of alternate tires are added to the entrant’s allotment as primary tires.
- 6.9.3, Additional Testing Limitations: Rig-type testing is permitted, provided the tires are not rotating.
- 126.96.36.199, Ties: In the event INDYCAR is unable to conclusively determine any difference in the physical sequence for two or more Cars at the end of a Race, INDYCAR shall determine the finishing positions based upon the Cars’ positions at the start/finish line on the prior lap.
- 10.5.1, Review Process: Reviews will be conducted by a review facilitator. The review will be heard by a review facilitator comprised of one (1) of the following possible review facilitators: (Some interesting facilitators but not all possible facilitators – Robin Pemberton, most recently the vice president of competition for NASCAR; former drivers Billy Boat, Buddy Rice and Lyn St. James).
- 188.8.131.52.10, Title Sponsor: No member shall grant any sponsorship or other promotional rights to any title sponsor competitor (Verizon) or for any products or services in the title sponsor category unless approved by the title sponsor. This includes an interesting nugget.: Health information technology, which refers to the management of health information including the storage exchange, transmission or security of electronic health records and other such health-related information.
- 14.1.7, Technical Specifications, General: Tape is not permitted as a single source of attachment for any component.
- 184.108.40.206, Car Weight: Entrants are permitted one drink bottle per car. The drink bottle must be installed in the side pod but cannot be installed during qualifications.
- Other notes:
- Teams will receive seven (7) sets of tires for the upcoming February “Prix View” test at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, and rookie drivers will receive an additional set. Four (4) sets of tires will be allowed for the March test at Barber Motorsports Park as well as the August test at Portland International Raceway. The March 27 open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has not yet had its tire allotment determined.
- Full season IndyCar entrants are allowed four (4) “fresh-built engines from the season start of a given racing season until the season start of the following racing season.” A fifth (5th) engine may be “fresh or partially-used” during this time period.
- Indianapolis 500 engine programs: The “short” engine program for the Indianapolis 500 supplies a team with one (1) engine for the duration of the Indianapolis 500 race event, while the “full” engine program for the event allows “up to two (2) engines for the duration of the Indianapolis 500 race event.”
Rule book excerpts courtesy of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Thanks given to IndyCar Media and the IndyCar ePaddock for rule book access. Image courtesy of IndyCar.