The New ‘Retro’ Look For IndyCar’s Aero Kit

Aero Kit
The concept drawings for the new IndyCar aero kits that are set to debut in 2018.

The universal aero kit that all IndyCar manufacturers will use beginning in 2018 will have a bit of a “retro” look as designers plan to take styling cues from some of the great cars of the past 20 years and incorporate them into the next body kit.

Artist renderings of the universal kit were unveiled Jan. 12 during the North American Int’l Auto Show at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

The universal aero kit will replace the modular kits that have been designed and used by Chevrolet and Honda since 2015. The 2016 kit will remain in place for 2017.

Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations, discussed the development of the universal aero kit.

“It was amazing and overwhelming how much the fans want this,” Frye said. “It was cool the debate they were coming up with of what this should look like. We looked at 20 years worth of cars and you go, ‘That was cool in that car and this is cool and that was kind of cool.’ So how do you piece that together?

“That was the esthetic part. So then once you piece it all together, then it’s got to perform. You can’t put a car together and it only goes 200 mph at the Indianapolis 500. I think we mentioned earlier that we have done one test on this car, model test, and it was overwhelmingly good performance-wise to date. We’ve got a ways to go but we’re definitely in the ballpark. That was very encouraging. That will help accelerate this whole process.”
The new aero kit will be used for the 2018 through ’20 seasons.

“In the year 2021, it gives us an opportunity to do something drastically different or maybe continue the current universal program, but it provides some options,” Frye said. “We looked at the cars over the last 20 years and what different parts and pieces off of different cars that we liked and we knew that other people liked, and especially that our fans were asking for. So that’s really where the car started and it’s kind of a reverse-engineering exercise.

“Usually, you work on a performance piece first, where with this car we worked on the esthetics of it first, hoping that we can create a performance package around it. And besides the performance piece, it also will have a lot of safety initiatives that are very cool.”

Frye says IndyCar’s “retro approach” while maintaining modern engineering is something that is used in the automotive industry.

“We talk about a 1968 Camaro,” Frye continued. “The 2016 or ’17 Camaro looks a lot like the ’68 Camaro, but they aren’t anything close other than aesthetics. The retro Indy car is to make it look like what an Indy car is supposed to look like. So that’s how we started the process.

“It will have a lower engine cover. We’re doing some different things in the back again and will have a different shape for the side pods.”