Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay says of the new Honda aerokits: ‘I’ve been biting my fingers trying to figure out what we get and when.’(Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay calls the design and implementation of aero kits a Mount Everest for engineers at Honda Performance Development. There’s probably more truth than hyperbole in that statement.
Honda is set to unveil its aero kits — assemblies of aerodynamic winglets, planes and flaps that attach to the standard Dallara chassis — at a reception Monday night in Culver City, Calif. The unveiling, held less than three weeks after Chevrolet showed off its aero kits and less than three weeks before the start of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, is loaded with deadline-driven anxiety, urgency and hope.
It also comes with a sense of peak-scaling pride.
“It’s really a huge uphill battle because of several factors,” Stephen Eriksen, HPD vice president and chief operating officer told USA TODAY Sports on Friday at HPD headquarters. “One of those is that you know there’s so much performance potential, so you’re frantic to make sure you get as much of that performance potential as possible in the constraints of the time available.”
But what do the aero kits — in the works since 2012 — mean in terms of performance and appearance? And what, if any, benefit will they have to a form of racing that’s struggling to maintain an audience?