Notes: INDYCAR’s Belli among recipients of Louis Schwitzer Award


The work leading to a trio of engineers - including INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development Tino Belli - earning the 2016 Louis Schwitzer Award for innovation and engineering excellence at the Indianapolis 500 actually began before the 2015 race even started.

When three Indy cars went airborne after spinning backward during crashes in Indy 500 practice a year ago, INDYCAR and manufacturers Chevrolet, Honda and Dallara immediately took on the task of developing a remedy to slow spinning cars and keep them adhered better to the track surface.

Their answer was the rear wing beam flaps that are mandated on every Verizon IndyCar Series entry competing at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. For the effort, Belli, Arron Melvin from Pratt and Miller Engineering (designer of the Chevrolet aero kit) and Alex Timmermans of Dallara were today named co-recipients of the 50th annual Schwitzer award. It is the first time engineers from different organizations have won the award.

“I think that shows how collaborative the work was,” Belli said.

With safety always a top priority, INDYCAR and its manufacturer partners set to finding a solution as soon as the issue surfaced in 2015 in the first year of aero kit competition between Chevrolet and Honda. Efforts were so intense and productive that a rear wing beam flap was ready in time for the 2015 race, but INDYCAR opted not to use it because it had not been tested to satisfaction and other aerodynamic changes to the cars had been put in place.

Extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations further developed the flaps last summer, followed by wind tunnel tests of prototypes at General Motors and Texas A&M University. The flaps, located on the rear wing main plane, flip up as the car spins backward, adding 650 pounds of drag to slow the car and 500 pounds of downforce to keep it more securely on the track surface.

The beam flaps are mandated on all three superspeedways on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule this year – Indianapolis, Texas and Pocono – as are domed skid plates underneath the cars to increase downforce when cars spin as well.

The first real-world test of the beam flaps and domed skids came Wednesday when rookie Spencer Pigot spun in Turn 1 during practice. The results were a confirmation to the Schwitzer award winners.

“Everything that we saw with the domed skid and the beam flap would seem to be validated,” Belli said. “We saw a lot of tire smoke (meaning the car remained on the track surface), which we didn't see so much last year. … And we saw the car, when it hit the wall, it had a significant tail-down attitude to it. So I think from what I looked at, I was quite pleased.”

Added Dallara’s Timmermans, “Also quite happy to see that the left-hand flap, which was contacted quite heavily by the rear wheel guard, stayed structurally sound.”

The Schwitzer award is named for the winner of the first auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909 and the designer of the engine that powered the Marmon Wasp to victory in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. It is sponsored by BorgWarner and presented by the Indiana section of SAE International.

For an “Professor B” explanation of beam flaps, visit

Power to join 500 musicians at ‘Rock-IN-Roar 500’

Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was scheduled to play the drums tonight at the “Rock-IN-Roar 500,” a music and community festival on Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis.

“I haven’t really practiced, just went through it a couple times,” Power said. “We’re playing One Republic’s ‘Love Runs Out.’ The thing is, I’m going to have like eight, nine other drummers around me, a lot of people. If I screw up, it’s fine. I can just stop playing and still sound all right. But it’s a pretty easy beat, I think I’ll be fine.”

NAPA Auto Parts joins Andretti Herta as sponsor for No. 98 Rossi

Alexander RossiNAPA Auto Parts, in conjunction with NAPA’s major supplier NAPA Balkamp and supporting vendor partners, has joined with Andretti Autosport to sponsor the No. 98 Honda by Alexander Rossi in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Rossi’s No. 98 machine is fielded in a collaboration between the Michael Andretti-led organization and Bryan Herta Autosport.

“We’re excited to begin a relationship with another storied American brand for this landmark event,” Andretti said. “This will be NAPA’s first time serving as a full primary sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series and I’m honored to have Andretti Autosport chosen to represent their brand.”

NAPA Auto Parts will also be carried as an associate sponsor on all Andretti Autosport cars for the remainder of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series.

“It’s fantastic to represent a company of that kind of significance and that background in the automotive industry like NAPA," Rossi said. "It’s a huge boost to not only Andretti Autosport but for the 98 car group as well. I’m looking forward to getting the NAPA Auto Parts/Curb car up to the front.”

NHL star Larkin to be Belle Isle grand marshal

Detroit Red Wings star center Dylan Larkin, a hometown hero and one of the rising stars in the National Hockey League, has been named grand marshal of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix for June 4. Larkin will give the famous command for drivers to start their engines before the start of the first Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans Verizon IndyCar Series race that afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

Larkin is fresh off an impressive rookie season that saw the 19-year-old score a team-high 23 goals and tally 22 assists.

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