IndyCar announced today that it will be conducting its first on-track test of a windshield designed to better protect race car drivers. Additional protection for drivers in open-cockpit race series has been a hot-button topic in the past few years following serious injuries and fatalities both in Formula One and IndyCar that may have been prevented by better head protection. IndyCar's windshield design is unique to open-cockpit motorsports, as both Formula One and Formula E will be implementing a "halo" design that looks like a horizontal roll hoop with a post placed in the center ahead of the driver. The new Formula E car complete with halo can be seen in the video below.
On paper, the windshield sounds like it should be robust. It's constructed using a PPG product called Opticor, which is also used in canopies for fighter jets. IndyCar notes that the windshield has been in development for about two years with wind tunnel testing being done at Dallara's, the company that builds IndyCars, test center. IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves has spent time trying out the windshield in simulator rigs, too.
The on-track test will take place at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Ariz. on February 8 just before official testing for Verizon IndyCar series racers. It will be fitted to a Honda-powered Chip Ganassi Racing car with four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon behind the wheel.
It will be interesting to see how Dixon likes the design, since Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel tried out a windshield design on his F1 car, but felt dizzy because of it. This was one of the factors that led F1 decided to choose the halo design. Of course the two windshields are different, so there's every chance that won't be an issue with the IndyCar version. And viewers will likely appreciate the windshield as opposed to the halo, since it's far less conspicuous and awkward-looking.