Here's What The 2018 IndyCar Body Kit Looks Like Up Close

Series champ Simon Pagenaud gives us a walkaround of the sexiest American open-wheel car in years.

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Round 17 of the 2017 IndyCar season, was notable for an important reason: It was the last full-season hurrah for a much-maligned IndyCar style. For most of 2018, teams will field an all-new, universal aero package for the Dallara chassis. Compared to previous cars, it’s a complete redesign that will likely change drivers’ racing style significantly, while continuing the push for better driver safety and lower running costs for teams. As a side benefit, the new car just happens to be a real swell looker.

In particular, gone is the controversial shroud that once enclosed the rear wheels. Engineers devised that boxy series of appendages in 2012 to prevent airborne “ramping” accidents of the kind that killed driver Dan Wheldon in 2011. The visual effect was that of a strange hybrid between an open-wheel racecar and a Le Mans prototype. Now, the cars look leaner, and more akin to the better-remembered cars of the late 1990s.

At the same time, the new design changes the cars’ aerodynamic profile, reducing some overall downforce and cutting down on the size and turbulence of the cars’ wake, allowing for closer racing and a greater possibility of passing attempts. The primary sources of aero grip have moved from outboard features at the front and rear, with smaller front and rear wings, toward a wider, more suction-generating central floor. A reduction in add-on pieces means less debris after a crash, and larger side pods, which accommodate the new intakes, improve side protection.  

The Drive checked out the new car for the first time at Classic Car Club Manhattan, and spoke with 2016 IndyCar series champ, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud about how the new configuration differs from the previous car, and how it will demand a new driving style.

The new aero kit will debut March 11 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Of course the real test for IndyCar drivers and fans is the Indianapolis 500, which happens this year at on May 27.