MOORESVILLE, North Carolina -- Both NASCAR Sprint Cup and the Izod IndyCar Series could be getting their wings clipped.
In an effort to improve racing with the oft-criticized-but-so-far-safer Car of Tomorrow (COT), NASCAR officials are considering taking the rear wings off stock cars and replacing them with spoilers. That change could be in effect before summer.
When a rear wing was part of the new car that began Sprint Cup competition in 2007, drivers, teams, fans and media scoffed at concept. It looked more like a Grand American sports car than a stock car, but the wing was combined with the front splitter to keep the car planted on the track. It didn't provide the side-by-side racing that NASCAR had hoped for, and a return to the rear splitter could give series officials the option of adding or reducing downforce depending on the angle of the spoiler.
"It's more important that it seems to be what the fans want,"
"I don't know what that wing's really doing back there, what the spoiler would be like on this car. We've never really tested it so I don't really know what it would do to the racing. It could punch a little smaller hole in the air than the wing does and give us a little opportunity to get a little more grip on the front end, but it might do the opposite. You never know."
While some drivers are begging for more downforce,
"What they need to do is take all the downforce away from the race cars, and then you don't have any downforce to lose," Edwards said. "If I don't have anything to start with, it sure can't get any worse. The blade is a good idea. Taking the front splitter away is a good idea. Taking the cars, make them drive like they used to at Darlington, like they do at Atlanta, places like that. I don't like to go down the corner, turn the wheel, find out how great my engineers are or aren't. That's not what I want to do in a race car. I want to go drive."
IndyCar's plans are more long-term as a "delta wing" concept is being considered, beginning with a new car/engine formula expected to debut in 2012 or even as late as 2013. That car is still in the concept stage, but the removal of the wings would reduce downforce, which in turn would also reduce speeds. But the main concept of the IndyCar would be to reduce costs, bring back some much-needed innovation, and hopefully recapture some of the imagination that has been lost in the past 15 years.
While NASCAR has its Car of Tomorrow, the current IndyCar is the "Car of Yesteryear" -- the same that has been on the track since the beginning of the 2003 season. If it is officially retired at the end of 2011, it would go down as the grandfather of all IndyCars.
Indy Racing League officials were expected to make their new car/engine announcements as early as last March, but that were delayed throughout the season. IndyCar Series President of Competition
Izod series team owner
"It's a fun exercise to engage the fans," Wiggins said. "If you read any online forum or blog about open-wheel racing, you can see that most fans have very specific ideas about the sport, its participants and the car itself. The car is a current topic and important to our future. This will give them a chance to show off their ideas, regardless of whether they're realistic or just fantasy."
One submission, selected by a random drawing from all submissions, will win the opportunity for two people to be VIP guests of HVM Racing at the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
"I love racing cars," Waltrip said. "The Daytona 500 is the ultimate race for a NASCAR driver to win. But how cool is it to go to Dubai on the other side of the globe and race a Ferrari? I never thought I'd have a chance to be part of such a unique experience."
The car Waltrip refers to is a Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team co-owned by
Waltrip and Kauffmann tested the Ferrari at the ACI Vallelunga circuit in Italy. Success at the test led the pair to review options for sports car races around the world before deciding to race in Dubai. The 3.5-mile track at the Autodrome is one of the most modern in the world. It is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. The race expects to start about 80 GT and touring cars.
"I have always thought of myself as a pretty good road racer," said Waltrip, who owns two top-five finishes in NASCAR road races. "But this is different. This is an endurance race. This is 24 hours, not the normal three-hour NASCAR race."
Race fans can track Waltrip's progress during the race on his Twitter account MWR55 and watch video updates at
"I can't Twitter while I'm competing during a NASCAR race, but I bet I can during this one," said Waltrip, who plans to keep fans in touch with in-race updates during driving breaks. "While I am on the other side of the globe, I don't plan on leaving my fans hanging."
Track action starts on Thursday, Jan. 14, with practice, qualifying and night practice. The 24-hour race will start on Friday Jan. 15 at 2 pm.
Beginning this season, a reverse gear will be added to the Xtrac gearboxes for street and road course races on the Izod IndyCar Series schedule. It will potentially allow drivers who spin off course to put their cars in reverse and rejoin the race without waiting to be towed or pushed out of a precarious situation by safety workers. Some drivers hope it will cut down on full-course caution flags in the non-oval races. There will be six forward gears and one reverse gear. The drivers will continue to use the paddle-shift system near the steering wheel to change gears. IndyCar Series technical director
"If we knew, we would have done it three years ago after he won the first one. We're hoping a rocket scientist like yourself could come up with some solutions and figure it out. Actually, never mind. We're smarter than you." --