Last month, IndyCar champ Scott Dixon headed to ISM Raceway outside Phoenix to test IndyCar's new experimental driver-protecting windscreen. While there, the series filmed a video with pit reporter Jon Beekhuis diving into the tech behind this seemingly simple screen. It's totally fascinating.
The screen itself is built by PPG and it's made from . Typically this stuff is used for airplane cockpit and side windows, and for fighter aircraft canopies, which makes it perfect for IndyCar. The material is designed to be able to withstand a four-pound bird strike at over 400 mph. That should make it strong enough for the Indy 500.
The screen has to maintain a constant radius so there's no distortion in the driver's field of vision. They're also equipped with the sort of windshield tear-offs used in sports-car racing, which are mitigate the effect of all the dirt and debris picked up by the car on the track.
Dixon said he had no trouble with light transitions—light to dark, and vice versa—the main purpose of this test. Beekhuis notes that the windscreen doesn't affect the aerodynamic performance of the car—the series' new universal aerokit was designed with this screen in mind from the outset—but it has been found to create a low pressure zone behind the driver's head. The series is working on ways to mitigate this.
Unlike F1 with its controversial Halo, IndyCar hasn't said when or if it will mandate the usage of this windscreen. What is certain is that Dixon's will be the first of many tests for this fascinating piece of tech.