IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. DW12 chassis shows its mettle in wind tunnel
2. Servia joins Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
3. Calendar aims to raise money for Japanese earthquake victims
4. Virginia International Raceway fills USF2000 slate
1. DW12 chassis shows its mettle in wind tunnel: A two-day wind tunnel test last week proved that the Dallara DW12 chassis is up to the task on ovals, according to INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips.
Questions arose during testing in November at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the chassis achieved only an average lap speed of 215.6 mph on the 2.5-mile oval. INDYCAR and Dallara Automobili arranged the full-scale, rolling test at Windshear in North Carolina to discern what could be done to increase aerodynamic performance.
A 2011 Target Chip Ganassi Racing IR11 chassis in qualification trim that recorded a 227.34 mph lap speed at the Speedway in May was utilized as a baseline reference.
"We then compared the 2012 car as it was run at its fastest during the (November) testing at the Speedway," Phillips said. "We showed that aerodynamically the car was limited to 218.4 mph, so the (drivers/teams) did a good job of reaching its potential. We then compared the production car, which is slightly different from the prototype in terms of different mirrors, different rear wheel fairings, subtle differences in chassis construction and better integration of the Zylon (side intrusion) panels.
"Basically, the car is more slippery (moves the air better). That lifted the speed as the car was run. We then looked at how could we improve the aerodynamic force of the car. Basically, by optimizing the aero set-up, re-balancing the car and then putting on some aero development parts, it showed that using a nominal assumed horsepower of 575 the car is easily capable of 225 mph."
Fifteen IZOD IndyCar Series teams picked up their first DW12 chassis on Dec. 15, with 17 additional chassis being picked up Jan. 16-17. On-track engine development for manufacturers Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus continues this week at Sebring International Raceway. The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 25, and the first oval race is the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
"Same test at same venue using an '11 car and '12 car, and that's the only data we're using to compare," Phillips said. "It's about as clean as we can make it for a two-day test."
With the introduction of multiple aerodynamic body kits in 2013, the potential of higher speeds will be an item INDYCAR officials will have to address.
"As we look at aero kits for 2013, the car could be exceeding expectations as they reduce drag further," Phillips said. "But it's not always about aerodynamics. You have to mechanically set the car up to drive it, so it's always a balance. Aerodynamically, we've proven that it can happen but we haven't proven mechanically that we can set the car up to go that speed yet."
2. Servia joins Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Oriol Servia, who finished fourth in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship after a year's absence, will join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the 2012 season.
Servia, a native of Catalonia, Spain, posted 11 top-10 finishes with a high of second at New Hampshire and Baltimore for Newman/Haas Racing. He also started seven races in the top 10, highlighted by a front-row start in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
Servia led all drivers in laps completed (2,103 of 2,011) and was the only driver to finish in the top 10 in the first five races of the season. He was among three drivers to be running at the finish in all 17 races.
"With a new engine, new chassis and a revamped engineering department, we believe it is crucial to have a highly talented veteran driver to be able to develop these new components," Dreyer & Reinbold co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "Oriol has always been a smart driver and has always put himself and his team in a position to win races. We are going to have to be well-prepared to take advantage of his abilities and we look forward to the challenge."
Servia, 37, was runner-up in the 2005 Champ Car World Series standings and was the 1999 Indy Lights champion (finished second in five races and earned three pole positions).
"I couldn't be more excited, for many reasons," he said. "DRR is a team that I raced against since 2008 and they've always shown to be very professional at the racetrack. Although I knew the owners, I didn't know them very well, to be honest. Before signing with the team, like everybody else, I did my research and I couldn't find one individual that didn't speak highly of Dennis or Robbie (Buhl), which gave me a lot of confidence.
"I went to the team's sponsor summit last week (in Florida) and met all of their partners that they have been involved with for many, many years, which was another clear sign that they are good people."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is a Lotus partner team. Servia is eager to begin testing in the new Dallara DW12 chassis. The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 25. Last year, he gained six positions relative to his starting spot of 15th in the street course race.
"I'm at the best point in my career and it was very important to partner with the right team," he said. "When I visited the DRR facility in Indianapolis, I couldn't have been more impressed. We are starting with a new engine and chassis, and I have confidence in Lotus and our ability to develop a quality product in 2012. When you have everyone pulling in the same direction like we are now is when we can accomplish our goals."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing continues to work toward a second full-time entry for the 2012 season.
3. Calendar aims to raise money for Japanese earthquake victims: Japanese journalists and brothers Kazuki Saito and Hiroyuki Saito have created a calendar using some of their favorite images from the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series to raise money for charities supporting the families affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
This photo calendar was created to support recovery in the areas affected.
The brothers cover the IZOD IndyCar Series via their website US-RACING.net. Chief editor Kazuki Saito and his brother, motorsports photographer Hiroyuki Saito, both grew up in Tagajo city, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas worst affected by the disaster.
The tsunami came within a half-mile of their family home. Not only did it cause unprecedented loss of life, it also destroyed the homes and jobs of many of the survivors. Following the earthquake Kazuki and Hiroyuki travelled to their hometown and saw for themselves the true destruction that had occurred that day.
They realized just how long the road to recovery would be for the region, and that long-term support will be required to move forward.
"At US-RACING, we learned that no one is immune to natural disasters and felt more people around the world could learn from this," the brothers wrote in their calendar. "As our way of contributing to the recovery, we decided to launch the 'USRACING Photo Aid Appeal', making a selection of our photos available for purchase and download, in the hope that the people affected in this disaster will not be forgotten."
Proceeds will be donated to charity organizations that support families in the affected areas who have children suffering from disabilities.
The calendar can be purchased via the following link. http://www.dlmarket.jp/product_info.php/products_id/182153/language/en
4. Virginia International Raceway fills USF2000 slate: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda added the finishing touches to its strong 2012 race schedule - which was announced last week - by today confirming a pair of season-ending events at Virginia International Raceway on September 14 and 15 in support of the American Le Mans Series. Both series will be making their first appearances on the 4.1-mile, 21-turn 'Grand Course' road course configuration at the Alton, Va., circuit.
"I am thrilled to be able to confirm our events at VIR," said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. "This was the final piece to an exciting schedule in support of INDYCAR and the ALMS that will showcase the incredible talent we have in place this year. VIR is a first-class facility, and it is one of the best road courses in America. It is scenic, challenging, fan-friendly and will make a great site for our season finale.
"We currently have 20 confirmed drivers with more announcements expected. As the first step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, our goal is to provide the right mix of circuits to offer the best training ground. We now have four permanent road courses, two street circuits and one oval event - all at high-profile venues - I couldn't be more pleased with our schedule for this season. We are looking forward to some great racing."