Once again, Jay Frye and Company dropped a huge surprise bomb on the IndyCar community Thursday, when it was announced that the series will be moving to a hybrid racing system for the 2022 season.
That is a replacement to the original engine upgrade, which was to take place after next year and move the cars to 2.4-liter V6 powerplants. Here’s the story if you want the details.
The community seems a little split on the idea, but here are three things why you should love it.
1) It’s innovation: Fanned by the flames of people who live in the past, many people think that the idea of innovation in IndyCar passed away years ago. It didn’t, things just changed. When you look back at the 1960s and 70s, innovation was all about finding ways to make the cars go faster…period. Now it’s about making the cars go faster while making them safer, lighter and more fuel efficient than ever before. I’ve watched how the Chevy and Honda engineers make the cars go faster, and it’s an easy process, they could add 200 horsepower to the cars in a matter of minutes. But how do you add that while keeping the engines reliable and therefore cost-effective enough to ensure a full field of cars? That’s the challenge, and there’s where the innovation comes from.
2) It brings more OEM’s into the discussion: In this country, hybrid and electric cars haven’t really taken hold, but they are definitely something that is a big source of development elsewhere. I’ve been to countries like Italy and France where gas is close to $7 a gallon, so fuel efficiency is a big concern there and in other places around the world, not to mention they are more open to this development than we are here. This story shows the fuel efficiency standards many countries will need to meet in the coming years. This kind of technology commitment is probably what IndyCar needed in order to bring in another OEM. This could mean all of the sudden companies like Ford or Toyota, or even Porsche, BMW or Volkswagen. This might also lead to the expansion of the race schedule. I haven’t read this anywhere but you have to think if one of the final three OEM’s on this list gets involved they would want the series in Europe or somewhere in that hemisphere. With 900 horsepower, could we maybe go to Monza? Just throwing it out there.
3) It’s more horsepower: Which, going back to item No. 1, isn’t that the goal? I hear so many people saying they wished IndyCar could go back to the old days of 900-1,000 horsepower. I think we all do, but in a cost-containment series, it’s not feasible to crater several engines a race, like the 2000 CART race at Fontana. Trust me, this is worth 7 1/2 minutes of your time.
With the current racing economic world we live in, finding horsepower while keeping costs down is the future. Regardless of how its generated, 900 horses is 900 horses, even if it for now looks like in Push to Pass mode. Personally, I am fine with how fast the cars go on ovals, but seeing them cranking it up on road and street courses would be really cool. Which brings in another innovation: tires. Making the cars faster and more powerful means Firestone will have to develop tires that handle the extra speeds and g-loads.
All of this is good stuff, and is vital to the viability of IndyCar. If the series is to survive, it has to adapt to the changing automotive environment. The future of the industry is in alternative energies, and the racing world has to follow suit. I also think that this will draw more fans to the sport, given the growing popularity of the Forumula E series.
I’m all in on this, but just promise me something, Jay, that the 2022 cars are still loud as hell. Deal?
Pit Lane Parley
Mid-Ohio was one of the craziest races of the season, so what do Host Mike, Matt and Jess think of it. I bet they talk about Josef Newgarden’s last-lap gaffe and Alexander Rossi re-upping with Andretti Autosport. Check out this week’s show on iTunes.
Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media