ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The new generation of IndyCars, powered by Honda, Chevy and Lotus engines, took to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida for the opening practice sessions for the St. Pete Grand Prix Friday, March 23, marking the first public racing laps the new cars had turned.
The Dallara DW12 chassis looks lower, sleeker and meaner than the old Dallara, and the cars are quick—almost 1.5 seconds quicker per lap than last year’s models around St. Pete’s 14-turn, 1.8 -mile track. The new 2.2-liter V6 turbocharged motors are not as loud as the old V8s—except when unleashing a string of ear-popping backfires under sudden deceleration. They also howl eerily when drivers back off the power more gradually.
There were plenty of other cars on track Friday, as there will be all weekend. With Pirelli World Challenge, USF 2000, Star Mazda, Indy Lights, and Ferrari Challenge, plus the IndyCars, the track is hot from early morning till late evening. But it is the IndyCars the fans have primarily come to see, and the new cars have not disappointed.