The new Honda and Chevy aero kits and the faster speeds they promise aren’t the only new IndyCar features debuting on the track this week.
At Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, the IndyCar Series is testing digital billboards of sorts on the sides of cars to show their positions in the race. As a car zooms by, spectators might see 1, 2, 7—whatever its place—on an LED panel the size of a small tablet computer.
Fans also will be able to see how many positions a car gained or lost in real time on any given lap. IndyCar officials said the displays are amazingly bright so fans will be able to easily spot them.
And the numbers will turn from red to green when the driver hits the push-to-pass button, which give the cars a short burst of power.
“This project started over a year ago in concept and it really is about how we can get fans more engaged, allow them to see more of what’s going on,” said Derrick Walker, IndyCar president of competition and operations. “If you're not in line of sight of a video screen or a scoring pylon, it’s hard to know who’s doing what.”
The panels, 8 inches by 7 inches and only 3 millimeters thick, will be attached to both sides of the air box (below the cockpit camera mount). Running orders will be updated as the cars cross timing and scoring timelines around a track.
Additional options are being considered, such as colors to show if a car is gaining or losing track position, said Jon Koskey, IndyCar director of timing and scoring.
Walker thinks fans will like the experience.
“There are other things we can do with it as we look down the road,” he said. “We’ll start off small and get the fans engaged and understanding what it is doing. It’s all about the fan experience.”