IndyCar Series logo
|Drivers' champion||Will Power|
|Teams' champion||Team Penske|
The IndyCar Series (known as the Verizon IndyCar Series for sponsorship reasons) is the premier level of American open wheel racing. The current championship, introduced by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George, began in 1996 as a competitor to CART known as the Indy Racing League (IRL). Citing CART's increasing reliance on expensive machinery and overseas drivers, George aimed to create a lower-cost alternative. In 2008, the Verizon IndyCar Series merged with the Champ Car World Series (formerly CART). The series is sanctioned by IndyCar.
Due to the legal settlement with CART, the Indy Racing League was unable to utilize the name IndyCar until the beginning of the 2003 season. For 1996–1997, the series was simply referred to as the Indy Racing League, with no genre designation. For 1998–1999, the series garnered its first title sponsor, and was advertised as the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. The contract was not renewed after the second year. In 2000, the series sold its naming rights to Internet search engine Northern Light for five seasons, and the series was named the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. After only two seasons, however, the sponsorship agreement ended when Northern Light reevaluated its business plan and ended all sponsorships.
The league reverted to the Indy Racing League name for the 2002 season, with no title sponsor. The IndyCar Series name was officially adopted beginning in 2003, as the series was now legally entitled to use it. In 2006, IndyCar forged an alliance with Simmons-Abramson Marketing (headed by Gene Simmons of the hard rock band Kiss), promising to be "actively engaged in the league's marketing, event, public relations, sponsorship, merchandising and branding efforts—from its IndyCar Series to the venerable Indianapolis 500". Simmons also co-authored the new IndyCar theme song, "I Am Indy". For the 2008 season, DirecTV served as a presenting sponsor, and the series was briefly advertised as the IndyCar Series in DIRECTV HD.
IZOD was announced as the series title sponsor beginning on November 5, 2009. Exact financial terms were not disclosed but the deal is worth at least $10 million per year and runs for at least 5 years. IZOD ended its sponsorship after the 2013 season.
Since the series inception, Verizon IndyCar Series events have been broadcast in the United States on several networks, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, FSN, and TNN. Beginning in 2009, Versus (now the NBC Sports Network) began a 10-year deal to broadcast 13 Verizon IndyCar races per season, whereas the remaining races, including the Indianapolis 500, would remain on ABC through 2018.
In the United Kingdom, the Verizon IndyCar Series races have all their broadcasts on the Sky Sports family of networks, however since the launch of BT Sport in August 2013 races are shown on one of the two BT branded channels or ESPN. The viewing figures of the Verizon IndyCar races in the UK outnumber that of the NASCAR races which are also broadcast on Sky Sports. The Verizon IndyCar Series also had highlights of all the races on the channel Five British terrestrial channel and Five USA, but has since been discontinued since the 2009 season.
In Portugal, all of the Verizon IndyCar Series are broadcast on Sport TV.
In February 2013, Sportsnet announced that it would become the official Canadian broadcaster of the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in the 2013 season in a five-year deal with the series. The new contract will include broadcasts on the Sportsnet regional networks, Sportsnet One, and City, along with mobile coverage and French rights sub-licensed to TVA Sports.
Additionally, Sportsnet will also originate coverage from the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Indianapolis 500, and Honda Indy Toronto with Bill Adam, Todd Lewis, and Rob Faulds. Canadian driver Paul Tracy will also join Sportsnet as an analyst.
ESPN has been the international broadcast partner of IndyCar in Latin America.
In the late 2000s, the official website streamed online all races, qualifying and practice sessions unrestricted. That service is now limited in the United States to television subscribers of the respective television network broadcasters.
Car history and current specifications
|This section is outdated. (May 2012)|
The Verizon IndyCar Series is not an open formula. The league controls and specifies the chassis and engine manufacturers that teams are allowed to use each season. The league's choice of manufacturers are changed every three years. Currently, Dallara provides the chassis to all teams, with Honda and Chevrolet providing the engines. Lotus provided engines in 2012 but left at the end of the season.
1996 to 2011
In the series' first season (1996), 1992 to 1995 model year CART chassis built by Lola and Reynard were used. The first new Indycar came into being in 1997. Tony George specified new technical rules for less expensive cars and production-based engines. The move effectively outlawed the CART chassis and turbocharged engines that had been the mainstay of the Indianapolis 500 since the late 1970s.
Starting with the 2003 season, the series rules were changed to require chassis manufacturers to be approved by the league before they could build cars. Prior to that, any interested party could build a car, provided it met the rules and was made available to customers at the league-mandated price. In total, four manufacturers have built IndyCar chassis.
Dallara began producing Indycars for the 1997 season. The Dallara and G Force chassis were relatively evenly matched over their first few seasons, but eventually the Dallara began to win more races. This caused more teams to switch to the Dallara, further increasing their success. Currently, all full-time teams now use the Dallara chassis. Dallara was also tabbed to build the Firestone Indy Lights machines. Dallara has won eight of the twelve Indy 500 races they have entered. After the withdrawal of factory support from Panoz Auto Development, they are the only supplier of new chassis.
The G Force chassis was introduced in 1997, and won the 1997 and 2000 Indy 500 races. In 2002, Élan Motorsport Technologies bought G Force, and the chassis was renamed "Panoz G Force", and then shortened to "Panoz" in 2005. In 2003 a new model was introduced, and it won the Indy 500 in 2003–2004, and finished second in 2005. It fell out of favor starting in 2005, and by 2006 only one finished in the top ten at Indy. Little factory support was given to IndyCar teams after that point, as Panoz concentrated on their DP01 chassis for the rival Champ Car World Series. By 2008, only one Panoz saw track time, an aborted second weekend effort at Indy, that resulted in Phil Giebler being injured in a practice crash. Given the age of the cars, and three-year cycles, it is unlikely that any further efforts will be seen with these chassis.
Riley & Scott produced IndyCar chassis from 1997 to 2000. Their initial effort, the Mark V, was introduced late in the 1997 season, severely limiting its potential market. It also proved to be uncompetitive. After Riley & Scott was purchased by Reynard, an all-new model, the Mark VII, was introduced for the 2000 season. It won in Phoenix, the second race of the season (driven by Buddy Lazier), but was off the pace at Indy and was quickly dropped by its teams.
Falcon Cars was founded by Michael Kranefuss and Ken Anderson in 2002 as the third approved chassis supplier for the 2003 season. One rolling chassis was completed and shown, but it was never fitted with a working engine and never ran. No orders were ever filled. Superficially, IndyCar machines closely resemble those of other open-wheeled formula racing cars, with front and rear wings and prominent airboxes. Originally, the cars were unique, being designed specifically for oval racing; for example, the oil and cooling systems were asymmetrical to account for the pull of liquids to the right side of the cars. The current generation chassis however, are designed to accommodate the added requirements of road racing.
Starting in 2012 the series moved to using a common chassis supplied by Dallara. Using a single supplier to supply chassis was introduced as a cost control method, and IndyCar has negotiated a fixed cost of $349,000 per chassis. The new specification of chassis also improved safety, the most obvious feature being the partial enclosure around the rear wheels.
This chassis is intended to support multiple aerodynamic kits, but the introduction of these has been delayed until 2014 with teams citing costs.
At its inception, the IRL used methanol racing fuel, which had been the de facto standard in American open wheel racing since the 1964 Indianapolis 500 Eddie Sachs – Dave MacDonald crash. Methanol had long provided a safer alternative to gasoline. It had a higher flash point, was easily extinguishable with water, but burned invisibly. With the IRL's introduction of night races in 1997, the burning of methanol fuel was visible for the first time, seen with a light blue haze. With this in mind, in an effort to make it more visible in case of fire during daylight hours, additional mixtures were placed in the fuel. As a safety feature, the methanol would burn with a color.
EPIC is a consortium of ethanol producers that advocate the increased use of ethanol. EPIC was anxious to address public concerns that ethanol use led to engine damage and poor performance when used in street cars. As a marketing effort, it was believed that sponsoring an IndyCar could be used as a tool to promote education and awareness of ethanol use, and to curb the spread of erroneous information by Exxon Mobil.
In 2005, driver Paul Dana brought the sponsorship of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) to his IndyCar team. EPIC is a consortium of ethanol producers that advocate the increased use of ethanol. EPIC was anxious to address public concerns that ethanol use led to engine damage and poor performance when used in street cars. As a marketing effort, it was believed that sponsoring an IndyCar could be used as a tool to promote education and awareness of ethanol use, and to curb the spread of erroneous information. Dana was killed in a crash in 2006, but the IRL already begun a transition to ethanol fuel. For the 2006 season, the fuel was a 90%/10% mixture of ethanol and methanol. Starting in 2007, the league advertised "100% Fuel Grade Ethanol", the first competitive series to utilize renewable fuel. The mixture is actually 98% ethanol and 2% gasoline for races held in the United States. It was provided by Lifeline Goods of Saint Joseph, Missouri. The additives satisfied the U.S. government's requirements that the alcohol be unfit for human consumption, and added visible color in case of a fire. The 2010 São Paulo Indy 300, held in Brazil – outside of the U.S. regulations – utilized a full E100 mixture, the first instance in the sport.
To compensate for the gain of power due to the use of ethanol, the displacement was reverted to 3500 cc. Since ethanol gets worse fuel mileage than methanol, the fuel tanks in the car were increased. Compared to methanol, human contact with the current ICS fuel is much less harsh, and the fumes much less irritating. The fumes are often compared with the sweet smell of apple cider or apple cobbler. Unlike methanol, ethanol is not caustic and does not cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with skin.
The initial 1996 IRL season, as well as the first two races of the 1996–97 season, featured engines with specifications left over from the rival CART series competition. Those chassis/engine combinations were essentially under the same rules utilized by teams which participated in the 1995 Indianapolis 500, which was sanctioned by USAC. V-8 powerplants were allowed the typical 45 inHg (22.1psi) of pressure boost. The Menard-Buick V6 engine used in 1996, however, was an updated powerplant from the 1995 version. In addition, the V-6 stock block engines (Buick-Menard) were allowed 55 inHg (27.0psi) of boost at all races, instead of just at Indianapolis. During the CART era, V-6 stock blocks were only allowed 45 inHg at all races outside of Indy, which was a decided disadvantage and left the engine out of favor.
Ford-Cosworth reluctantly provided support to teams wishing to run their older-spec engines in the IRL, a major point of contention for CART management, to whom Ford-Cosworth was an official engine supplier. The Ilmor Mercedes V-8 engine, also a mainstay CART powerplant, was permitted, but the only time it was used was a one-off at the 1996 Indy 500 by Galles Racing.
Starting in 1997, IRL cars were powered by 4.0 L V8, methanol-burning, production-based, normally aspirated engines, produced by Oldsmobile (under the Aurora label) and Nissan (badged as Infiniti). Per IRL rules, the engines sold for no more than $80,000, and were rev-limited to 10,500 rpm. They produced around 700 hp (520 kW).
The engine formula was changed with the 2000–2004 formula. The displacement was dropped from 4000 cc to 3500 cc, and the requirement for the block to be production-based was dropped. This formula was used through 2003. In 2004, in the wake of several crashes including the fatal crash of Tony Renna and the severe crash of Kenny Bräck, the displacement was further reduced to 3000 cc to curb top speeds.
Infiniti's engines, though reliable, were significantly down on power compared to the Auroras in 1997, leading many of the teams that had initially opted for the Infiniti to switch. By the end of the 1998 season, only a handful of low-budget teams were using the Infiniti. However, early in the 1999 season, Cheever Racing, a well-funded team, was brought on to develop the engine with team owner Eddie Cheever expanding the team to two cars and bringing on his brother Ross Cheever as a test driver. By 2000, the engine had improved markedly and Cheever captured the marque's first win at Pikes Peak International Raceway. However, despite the improved success, few teams made the switch to the Infiniti and the company left the series after the 2002 season to focus on powering the league's new Infiniti Pro Series (now Firestone Indy Lights).
As part of General Motors' discontinuance of the Oldsmobile name, the Olds engine was rebadged as the Chevrolet starting with the 2002 season. However, the effort could not compete with the Toyota and Honda programs starting in 2003. In August 2003, Chevrolet announced to the public its "Gen IV" motor, a rebadged Cosworth motor for competition. At the time, Cosworth was owned by Ford. On November 4, 2004, Chevrolet stated that it would be ending its IRL engine program effective with the end of the 2005 season, citing costs that exceeded value, according to then GM Racing Director Doug Duchardt, "The investment did not meet our objectives."
In 2003, Toyota came to the IRL from the rival CART series. Toyota won their first race in Miami, as well as the Indianapolis 500 and the series title. However, Toyota had just one podium in the last seven races of 2004, and only Penske Racing fielded competitive Toyota-powered cars in 2005. In November 2005, Toyota company officials announced the company's withdrawal from American open-wheel racing and the immediate discontinuation of its IRL program, coinciding with its entrance into NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in 2004, and its discontinuation of its IMSA program.
Honda also came to the IRL in 2003, and by 2005 was clearly the dominant engine manufacturer. Starting in 2006, they became the only engine manufacturer in the IndyCar Series, and continued in that capacity through 2011. The Honda V8 engine was developed by Ilmor about 75%, which is part owned by Roger Penske until 2006. Since 2007 until 2011, Honda Indy V8 was produced by its own company, HPD-AHM Co..
During that time, since the IndyCar Series had only one engine manufacturer, Honda focused on minimizing engine failure and minimizing costs instead of defeating rivals. As such, the engines were moderately de-tuned. The engines proved themselves to be quite durable—there had been no engine failures at Indy from 2006 to 2010, which also lowered the number of crashes. Most of the engines, including those used for the Indy 500, are used for multiple races and were intended to last 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) between rebuilds. The Honda engines were only available via lease arrangement from Honda, which, for the 2010 full season, cost $935,000 U.S. per season, per car.
The current, fourth-generation IndyCar formula was presented in 2012. The engines are now 2.2-liter single or twin turbo V-6's putting out estimated 550–700 hp depending on the level of boost used. They are limited to 12,000 rpm. Engines are supplied by Honda and Chevrolet.
The future of IndyCar
On July 14, 2010, the series announced that Dallara had been chosen over four other bids to replace the current Dallara chassis in 2012. Dallara will provide a rolling chassis that will serve as the base of the car. Teams will choose an aero kit (sidepods, engine covers, front/rear wings) built by any manufacturer (including the teams themselves) to complete the chassis. Aero kits must be approved by the IndyCar Series, undergo safety testing, be available to all teams, and will have a maximum price of $70,000. Cars will be badged based on their aero kit manufacturers and not the chassis manufacturer. The Dallara name will not be a part of the car's name (e.g. if Team Penske produces their own aero kit, they will drive a "Penske IndyCar", not a "Penske Dallara"). A team will not be able to run more than 2 aero kits in a season.
As part of the deal, Dallara will create a manufacturing facility in the town of Speedway, Indiana to build the new cars (part of the deal includes tax breaks from the state and local governments). Dallara's rolling chassis will be sold to teams for $345,000 each (45% less than what is charged for the current chassis). The Governor of Indiana also indicated that the first 28 chassis purchased by Indiana-based teams will be sold for $195,000 each. The new chassis will be 1380 lbs; 185-lbs. (84 kg) lighter than the current model. The new chassis will include an anti-interlocking design which is intended to prevent tire-on-tire contact with the potential to launch a car into the air.
The new open engine formula will use 2.2 liter twin-turbocharged V6 engines, provided they can be tuned to produce the full range of 550–750 horsepower. The formula would allow hybrid systems, KERS systems similar to Formula 1, and other engine enhancements. The "push to pass" feature in 2012 will allow a limited horsepower gain up to 100 hp as opposed to the current "overtake assist" which only provides 20 hp. Firestone announced that they would step down as tire provider and the end of the 2011 season, but it was announced by IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard on March 11, 2011 that Firestone has accepted to stay on with the IndyCar Series as sole tire supplier through 2013 season, after team owners in the series voted to keep Firestone on as the sole tire supplier earlier in the week due to safety concerns with allowing a new tire supplier.
- ^ In 1996, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins were tied in the final standings and were declared co-champions. Calkins had one win, as opposed to Sharp being winless, but no tiebreakers were in place.
- ^ Although it was Dixon's first year in IndyCar and he won the championship, he was not considered a rookie because of earlier ChampCar experience.
- ^ In 2006, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Dan Wheldon tied in the final standings for first place. This time, IndyCar had tiebreakers, and Hornish clinched the championship by having more victories than Wheldon during the season.
- ^ Although no report was officially released about it in 2008, IndyCar.com confirmed in 2009 that Danica Patrick being named Most Popular Driver was her "fifth consecutive" win of the award.
- ^ The 2011 season was originally supposed to end at Las Vegas, but the death of Dan Wheldon in an early crash caused IndyCar to abandon the race. The points reset to the standings as of the scheduled penultimate race at Kentucky, with Franchitti winning the championship.
- ^ Posthumously awarded to Dan Wheldon by a vote of members on the official IndyCar Nation website. This marked the first time a part-time driver won the award.
Individual discipline trophies
Starting in 2010, the series began recognizing sub-set championship trophies alongside the season championship. The two primary disciplines of IndyCar (ovals and road courses) were named after respective legends of the sport: A. J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, respectively. The discipline trophies were created as the series moved closer to a 50/50 split of ovals and road courses, and to encourage incentive for part-time entries – specifically those that might prefer to compete in one discipline over the other.
This arrangement also creates a reasonable opportunity for a team to employ the services of two drivers for one season entry. A team could hire a specialist for ovals and a specialist for road courses, whom combined would maintain the entry's total owner points but individually work towards their own separate disciplines.
Note that street courses are included as part of the road racing discipline.
|Season||A. J. Foyt
Road Course Trophy
|2010||Dario Franchitti||Will Power|
|2011||Scott Dixon||Will Power|
|2012||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Will Power|
|Season||A. J. Foyt
Former Oval Trophy
Former Road Course Trophy
|2013||Hélio Castroneves||Scott Dixon|
|2014||Juan Pablo Montoya||Will Power|
- List of IndyCar Series teams
- List of IndyCar Series racetracks
- List of American Championship Car winners
- IndyCar Series drivers
- Indianapolis 500
- Firestone Indy Lights
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