Dallara Automobili envisioned establishing a U.S. facility that would serve as a technology center, engineering classroom, visitor destination and magnet for other auto racing-related industries. It will come to fruition with Dallara’s selection July 14 to manufacture the IndyCar Safety Cell beginning in 2012.
A multi-million dollar brick-and-glass facility in the final design stages will be a cornerstone of the Main Street redevelopment in Speedway, Ind., a few hundred yards from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League headquarters.
The facility will house the Dallara USA technical center, as well as areas for Indy Parts Inc. (the official Dallara spare parts distributor), the Indy Racing Experience (two-seater and single-seater IndyCar programs), Experiential Marketing Inc. (show cars and promotional activities) and the Indy Engine Group (high-performance engine shop).
Plans also include an interactive area, co-sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, where fans can:
• Use an interactive touch-screen wall to learn how an IndyCar is designed and manufactured.
• See the assembly area and watch IndyCar chassis being assembled.
• View the operation of the state-of-the-art vehicle dynamics simulator.
• Drive a scaled down version of the race car simulator.
• Take a ride in a street-legal race car.
• Participate in a pit stop competition.
Future plans also include a restaurant, along with facilities for meetings and parties.
“Dallara are really looking forward to being a part of the community,” said Sam Garrett, U.S. technical liaison for Parma, Italy-based Dallara Automobili. “We’ve been discussing the possibility of opening a U.S. location for several years. The contract to supply the new IndyCar chassis is the catalyst that finally allows it to happen.”
Discussions have been ongoing between Dallara and several Indiana universities regarding the promotion of an engineering curriculum with an emphasis on motorsports, including internships, connection with Formula SAE events, and using the simulator to train engineering students in controlled and repeatable conditions.
“These engineers can then learn to make quick decisions when time is tight, to dig into a lot of data to find the appropriate synthesis, to interact with the driver in real-time situation under pressure and under unexpected but programmable scenarios,” Garrett said. “This is applicable to both road and race cars.”
Formula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) that has been held since 1979. The concept is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small formula-style race car. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure onsite event operations and promote clever problem solving.
Dallara principals Gianpaolo Dallara and Andrea Toso are Formula SAE design judges.
The IndyCar Safety Cell will be the core of the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series car. Entrants and constructors, including Dallara, will have the opportunity to “dress” the rolling chassis in aero kits (front and rear wins, sidepods and engine cover) for the series’ diverse set of racetracks that they will market to teams. The rolling chassis will cost $349,000 – a reduction of almost 50 percent of the current race car -- and the aero kits will have a price ceiling of $70,000.
“Dallara welcomes diversity in the look of the car,” Toso said. “IndyCar is no more a de facto spec formula. Third-party companies, including sponsors, engineering centers, race teams, race car manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, can submit to the IRL their design and have the teams race it. The design includes the main bodywork parts and the front and rear wings.
“This diversity aims at promoting interest from the fans, favoring engineering research into more efficient bodywork shapes and creating a strong marketing platform for all partners.”
Also, beginning in 2012, Dallara will offer a $25,000 credit to the Firestone Indy Lights champion for any Dallara parts or services to be used to assist the driver in advancing to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Already, Town of Speedway officials say three other auto racing-related manufacturers have inquired about locating near Dallara’s building. In November 2009, the commission broke ground on its first construction project. The $10 million Main Street project is part of a $500 million plan for 400 acres of multi-use development.“Dallara will encourage and welcome other manufactures, shops and motorsports industry suppliers to expand their business around its facility in Speedway, to create a ‘motorsports valley’ for exchanging the know-how and developing activities to increase more jobs in engineering and motorsports industries,” said Stefano Deponti, Dallara Automobili’s director of U.S. operations.