DALLARA ROLLS OUT NEXT GENERATION OF INDY CARS
The first of the new generation of Indy race cars will ship out today from the Dallara motorsports facility in Speedway, marking a milestone for both the automaker and the town's redevelopment of Main Street.
Italian automaker Dallara and its U.S. distributor, Indy Racing Experience, have partnered in a $7 million plant to design and assemble the next generation of chassis for the IndyCar series in time for the 2012 race season.
Indy racing teams are scheduled to begin picking up crates containing the first 15 of the new cars, designated DW12 in honor of driver Dan Wheldon. Before he was killed in October in a crash during the Las Vegas Indy 300, Wheldon had logged 2,000 miles testing the new Indy car design.
The price tag for the hot new racers is $385,000, not counting wheels, the custom-fitted driver's seat or an engine, either a Honda or Chevrolet. IndyCar teams based in Indiana get a $150,000 discount as an economic development incentive from the state.
About one-third of the new 100,000-square-foot Dallara building, a five-minute walk from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also will house a unique educational fan experience for IndyCar lovers. Displays will teach the art of building a 200-mph machine, then fans may design their own virtual car and give it a test drive on a computer screen.
Scott Jasek of Indy Racing Experience estimated that 200,000 people a year will visit the museum-quality portion of the facility to learn about building racers. The attraction is due to open before the next Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in May.
Fans looking for a taste of the real race experience may find it in two-seater, stretched versions of real Indy cars that have been modified to be legal on Speedway's streets.
Indy Racing Experience, which operates the two-seaters, has a permit from the town to offer rides from the Dallara plant, along Main and to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speedway town officials have been planning for years to redevelop the aging industrial and retail corridor of Main Street between 10th and 16th streets.
Fresh streetscapes have been completed with new sidewalks, street lighting and other features to dress up the 100-year-old corridor.
Dallara is the first of the major redevelopment projects to be completed. Planners expect more restaurants, retailing, offices and motorsports business to drive the revitalization of the industrial and business core of town.
An announcement is expected today that Indy driver and team owner Sarah Fisher and co-owner Willis "Wink" Hartman will build a new headquarters for their Fisher Hartman Racing team next door to Dallara.
"I would hope that we can have two or three new buildings under construction along Main in the coming year," said town Redevelopment Director Scott Harris.
The town also has cleared about 18 acres at 10th and Main to prepare for new companies to be lured to build next to Dallara, Harris said.
That area, where a steel foundry once stood, is now "as shovel-ready as it can be," Harris said.
But before new race team facilities are built or the virtual design center opens, the motor racing industry is tuned to Dallara and the delivery of the new DW12 machines they will all drive. The DW12 replaces IndyCar models dating to 2003 and 2007.
Though the Speedway Dallara facility is built, the car assembly equipment and a life-size simulator for drivers to take test runs is not yet installed. The first 15 crated cars to ship today from Main Street were assembled in Dallara's factory in Italy because the Speedway plant isn't ready.
IndyCar insiders have worried there won't be enough of the new cars delivered and ready for next season.
Stefano de Ponti, chief executive and general manager for Dallara in the U.S., said Wednesday that "we planned to have 60 cars, and we are almost there."
The schedule is to deliver 15 more cars each month until all needs are fulfilled.