IndyCar adds additional tethers to improve safety in 2016
Three months after Justin Wilson’s death at Pocono Raceway, IndyCar is taking steps to reduce crash debris and improve safety.
The open-wheel series announced Tuesday that it will tether its aerodynamic components beginning next season. The high-tensile tethers are expected to minimize the possibility of debris flying around during accidents and hitting fans as well as drivers in their open cockpits.
“It is a continual goal to improve safety for all the participants, fans and drivers alike,” said Will Phillips, IndyCar’s vice president of technology.
“We also need to do this in a fashion that does not create more yellow-flag racing and try to prevent as much debris as possible.”
Last season opened with concern over debris from the new, more brittle chassis, so series officials instructed Honda and Chevrolet to makes structural upgrades to the cars. After three cars flipped over in practice before the Indianapolis 500, series officials took away extra horsepower, and an equipment change was made after James Hinchcliffe sustained life-threatening injuries after a broken suspension piece pierced his left leg at Indy.
In August, Wilson was fatally injured at Pocono after being hit in the head by a piece of debris from another car, and IndyCar was forced to scramble again. Canopies for cars have been discussed for years as a way to guard against debris, but present other safety concerns.
Under the changes announced Tuesday, the rear beam wing and rear wheel guards will be tethered for all IndyCar events and the car’s nose will be tethered on superspeedways ovals. Chassis maker Dallara also has designed a tethering system for the front wing main plane for the three superspeedways on the 2016 schedule — Indianapolis, Texas and Pocono.
Other safety improvements for 2016 include a domed skid plate on the underside of the chassis, part of a package expected to lower the possibility of a car becoming airborne.