Jeff Horton, IndyCar director of engineering/safety and Dr. Terry Trammell, IndyCar’s safety consultant, install a windscreen on the 2018 Indy car at Chip Ganassi Racing.
Four-time champion Scott Dixon will turn laps at ISM with the protective shield
After two years of development on the computer, IndyCar is ready to put a windscreen on an actual race car.
Series officials will test its latest safety enhancement on Feb. 8 as a windscreen will be placed on a Dallara chassis and turn laps at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The test will be held in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series preseason open test. It will be put on a Chip Ganassi Racing Honda driven by four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon.
The windscreen test will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET — the same time allotted for rookie oval testing. All Verizon IndyCar Series teams and drivers will test from Feb. 9-10.
According to IndyCar, the windscreen is made of a proprietary Opticor advanced transparency material by PPG, the same material the company uses in its production of fighter jet canopies. The material has shown to be stronger, lighter and more impact-resistant than polycarbonate previously used, according to Jeff Horton, IndyCar’s director of engineering and safety, who has spearheaded windscreen development with Dr. Terry Trammell, IndyCar medical consultant.
The prototype windscreen has been tested in a scale-model wind tunnel and racing simulator at Dallara, IndyCar’s chassis producer.
Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves provided driver feedback after testing in the Dallara driving simulator last year. The on-track test at ISM Raceway is the next step in its evolution, though Frye said there is no timetable for implementation in Verizon IndyCar Series competition.
“This has been a long process, one that’s been very methodical and purposeful,” IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye said of the windscreen project. “We have been striving to create a safety piece that aesthetically looks good and works in all conditions, and this is a test of those things. Any piece we put on an Indy car must work for multiple types of venues and different lighting conditions. It has to be versatile.
“We’ve tested this at Dallara’s simulator, but this will be the first time it has been on a car at speed. So, this is just the next step in the process.”
The windscreen is not an enclosed canopy and is similar to windscreens that were used on Indy cars from the 1960s through the 1990s. The material, however, has never been used on an Indy car before.