Wings on wings on wings on wings: that's the theme for Honda's IndyCar aero kit. If your reaction to Chevrolet's version of the aero kit was a resounding "meh," perhaps this VTEC-kid-inspired set of venetian blinds will grab your attention.
Sure, it was a tad disappointing that the big news from IndyCar's Media Day was a body kit. A sweet body kit would certainly command attention in any early 2000s high school parking lot, but it's not exactly going to bring attention to IndyCar in droves.
Perhaps the wrong body kit went first. Honda's crazy collection of horizontal planes on their road course/short oval aero kit is one of the wildest designs I've ever seen fitted to a race car, particularly from the front view. It's visually stunning, and I can't wait to see it on a race course.
Honda claims that it's not just nuts, but functional. According to Road & Track, Honda Performance Development teamed up with ex-Formula One designer Nick Wirth and his Wirth Research team to come up with the design.
Honda Performance Development Vice President Steve Eriksen says that the move away from strict spec cars is a good move for IndyCar. Eriksen told Road & Track:
We've had a car that is essentially the same since 2012—all cars the same across the whole grid. Now you're going to have the visual differences across the cars. I think it will be engaging for the fans, particularly the folks that are really interested in the details. My sense is that it is really about getting back to the roots of IndyCar, where you have development going on as opposed to being spec.
The differences aren't just visual, though. Which aero kit will be better on track? We'll have to find out on March 29, when the season opener for IndyCar finally happens at St. Petersburg.
There are over 100 pieces in Honda's kit, and teams are permitted to add and remove elements as they see fit, adding a whole new element of strategy to the car setup.
Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay believes that the first half of the season will be spent just trying to make sense of the new aero bits.
"I think at the beginning, I really do think that the teams will just have blinders on, looking straight down at the computer trying to figure out what, when, and how they can make their own stuff work better," he told Road & Track.
Hunter-Reay's team did much of the testing for the new aero kit and Honda power package during the lengthy IndyCar offseason. You can see the car in testing (plus other fun development bits, like the design being tinkered with in computational fluid dynamics software) in Honda's launch video for the kit:
Unfortunately for teams, moving away from a spec usually means additional costs. However, Honda kept the price for their aero kit incredibly reasonable in the world of big-budget race teams. $75,000 will get you the initial kit.
Will all these aerodynamic bits and baubles finally bring attention back to IndyCar? I'm still not sold on it, but given the vast difference between the two designs and the number of swappable parts on them, it at least looks like a small (albeit very small) step in the right direction.
Photo credits: Honda