After the ICONIC advisory panel selected Dallara to produce the new generation of IndyCars from 2012 onwards, it opened up the series to endless possibilities.
Customisable aero packages can be bolted on to the new Dallara tub – including the standard Dallara kit – but this has given anyone the opportunity to ‘build’ their own evolution of car.
“Come on Ford, GM, Lotus, Ferrari. Come on Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric. Come on you engineers working in your garage or in small shops,” said Tony Purnell, one of the seven members of the ICONIC panel.
“We’ve done our best to provide a framework for all of you to showcase your technical prowess without a need for a major raid on your piggy banks. We want you guys involved, all of you.”
You may think Ferrari entering IndyCar may be rather unlikely – but don’t rule it out just yet. It actually makes perfect sense.
Time for a history lesson, boys and girls.
This wouldn’t be the prancing horse’s first foray into American single seaters – way back in 1986, amidst one of many Ferrari vs FIA feuds, they threatened to quit Formula One in favour of a CART programme.
After Bobby Rahal took a March 85C-Cosworth across the pond to Italy for Ferrari to test and evaluate – Enzo Ferrari commissioned a prototype car with a view to entering the series in 1987.
Gustav Brunner designed what would become the Ferrari 637 in 1986 – and CART team Truesports (who had been racing the March 85C that Ferrari had based the car on to a certain extent) were to run the new car the following year.
However, when Ferrari got their way with the F1 engine regulations, they pulled the plug on the project, and the 637’s only usage after was as a test mule for the Alfa Romeo Indy engine project.
Now, back to the present, Ferrari is looking to expand there presence in America. They’ve already expressed interest in fielding an American-based F1 team under the Ferrari banner, essentially as an off-shoot of the senior team. The USA is a key market for their road car division. Now, with IndyCar regulations opening up again, they have a chance to expand their presence stateside.
Every car on the grid may end up using a Dallara tub – but it wouldn’t be the first time Dallara and Ferrari worked together on a car.
Ok, so I lied. The history lesson isn’t over yet.
The Ferrari 333SP was a joint project between the two for the now defunct IMSA GT Championship – and it was somewhat successful both in the States and back in Europe. While Dallara built the chassis and tub, Ferrari focused on the V12 engine for the sports prototype – which if anything was the car’s Achilles heel.
The engine regulations are also opening up from the 2012 season onwards – however a move to V6 or Striaght-4 engines may make Ferrari reconsider any possible involement in the sport. A Dallara-Ferrari-Mazda would not be a suitable alliance for such a prestigious brand.
Maybe I’m being farfecthed and dreamy-eyed, but Ferrari in IndyCar could do both themselves and the sport a whole a load of good in the future. If IndyCar can somehow regain the status of CART and relegate NASCAR back to being a niche sport (if there is such a thing in America), Ferrari would benefit enormously. As would prospective drivers – perhaps the Indy to F1 route would lose its reputation for being doomed to failure.
Just don’t be too surprised if you see a Ferrari winning the Indy 500 in the not-so-distant future.