IndyCar rain vanes ready for action at Barber

·2 min read

The early forecast for this weekend’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix included the possibility of rainfall, and while it appears the NTT IndyCar Series drivers will now have three dry days of on-track activities, their teams have a new solution to employ if the skies open up at Barber Motorsports Park or any future road and street course round on the calendar.

Developed in partnership with chassis supplier Dallara, IndyCar is introducing its new “damper cover turning vanes” this weekend which will be installed if it rains. Although use of the “rain vanes” is optional, the series has reserved the right to mandate their installation across the entire field.

The rain vanes address a specific issue that arose at the wet Indianapolis Grand Prix in May of 2022 where the mix of rain, spray coming off of leading cars, and the high-speed onrushing air combined to create a bubble of water that sat in front of IndyCar’s aeroscreen driver safety device. As some drivers reported, the stationary bubble of water blocked their view looking directly through the aeroscreen, and in some cases, drivers had to find alternate lines of sight to see the track and judge braking and turn-in points.

In response, Dallara and IndyCar’s aerodynamic and engineering team established a research and development program to find the best solution to the problem. After extensive modeling and virtual testing was done using computational fluid dynamics software, the project was elevated to full-scale wind tunnel testing at Dallara where a variety of vane designs were tried while water was fired at the aeroscreen at high speed.

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Observed from the wind tunnel by Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi through a video camera placed in the cockpit of the Dallara DW12 that replicated a driver’s view from behind the aeroscreen, a final design which directs most of the bubble-causing spray away from the front of the aeroscreen was approved and put into mass production.

Made from strong and lightweight carbon fiber, IndyCar teams received the devices leading into Barber, and with the use of a jig created by Dallara to drill the mounting holes in the damper cover, teams began test fitting the vanes Friday morning.

Another interesting development was found in testing when the car was placed in yaw — at something other than a head-on angle, such as turning — where the mandatory centerline Gurney flap that ran up the middle of the aeroscreen was causing some of the bubble effect. Thanks to the greater advancements IndyCar and Dallara have made elsewhere on the DW12s with stability in yaw, the centerline Gurneys have been permanently removed from the aeroscreens to further reduce the rain bubble effect.

Story originally appeared on Racer