Aeroscreen Engineering Team Wins 2020 Louis Schwitzer Award

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 – The 54th annual Louis Schwitzer Award was presented to eight engineers for their engineering excellence in developing the innovative Aeroscreen for INDYCAR, which protects the driver from airborne debris.

The awardees included Ed Collings, Red Bull Advanced Technologies; Antonio Montanari, Dallara; Stefan Seidel, Pankl Racing Systems; Craig McCarthy, Aerodine Composites; Brent Wright, PPG; Marco Bertolini, Isoclima; and Bill Pappas and Tino Belli from INDYCAR.

BorgWarner and the Indiana Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International gave the award, along with a $10,000 prize, to the engineers. The award recipients have decided to donate the prize money to SeriousFun Children’s Network.

The Louis Schwitzer Award honors engineers who innovate new concepts to improve competitive potential, with a focus on new technology with applications in the engine, powertrain, profile, chassis or safety, and that adhere to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES specifications. Judges aim to recognize advancements that increase performance, safety or efficiency.

“A lot of the emphasis for the Indy 500 is put on who will take home the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy, but we think it’s just as important to highlight the significant efforts of the engineers behind the scenes who continue to innovate impressive technologies for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Frédéric Lissalde, president and CEO, BorgWarner Inc. “With safety being at the forefront of everything we do at BorgWarner, we’re pleased to see this group of award winners honored for bringing a creative and functional safety solution to the racing industry.”

Implemented by INDYCAR for the 2020 season to protect the driver from airborne debris, the Aeroscreen is designed to withstand up to 28,100 lbs (125 kN) of vertical and lateral static loads and survive the impact of a 2.2 lb (1 kg) projectile fired at 220 mph (354 kph). A key benefit of the technology is that it has no optical distortion and does not interfere with the driver’s sightlines. Additionally, it allows for ‘straight up’ driver extraction in case of a back injury and is interchangeable with all Dallara DW12 chassis systems.

Consisting of an additive manufactured titanium top frame, a titanium-reinforced carbon fiber lower frame and a clear laminated polycarbonate screen, the top frame prevents large objects from entering the cockpit. Similarly, the lower frame stiffens the cockpit opening and provides attachment points for the top frame and screen, and the screen deflects smaller debris away from the cockpit.

The Aeroscreen is the result of a worldwide engineering collaboration between INDYCAR and Red Bull Advanced Technologies (United Kingdom) for the structural design; Dallara (Italy) for the aerodynamic design; manufacturers Pankl Racing Systems (Austria) for the top frame; Aerodine Composites (U.S.) for the lower frame; and PPG (U.S.) and Isoclima (Italy) for the screen.

“Since the first call to Red Bull Advanced Technologies to the implementation of the Aeroscreen, there has been a dedicated group of engineers both internally and at our partners working tirelessly,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “The countless hours that the entire team and paddock put into making our drivers safer on the racetrack have already paid dividends as we saw last month in Iowa. Thank you to BorgWarner and the Indiana SAE for their longtime and continued support of this prestigious award.”

Beyond celebrating engineering excellence, the award memorializes Louis Schwitzer, who won the first auto race at the IMS in 1909 and designed the “Marmon Yellow Jacket” engine that powered the Marmon “Wasp” to victory at the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. After founding Schwitzer Corporation in 1918, Schwitzer led the IMS technical committee and maintained a strong association with SAE throughout his career. BorgWarner acquired Schwitzer Corporation in 1999 to expand BorgWarner’s turbocharger, engine cooling systems and other offerings.

When it comes to the Indianapolis 500, BorgWarner’s heritage runs deep, centering around the famous Borg-Warner Trophy, which has been awarded to the winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” every year since 1936. BorgWarner also is the Official Turbocharger Partner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with its EFR™ (Engineered for Racing) turbochargers boost the engine of every car participating in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Built for reliability, the turbochargers deliver an unprecedented combination of advanced technologies including: Gamma-Ti (titanium aluminide) turbine wheels, ceramic ball bearings and stainless-steel turbine housings.

Silly Season Focus Turns to Askew and VeeKay

Editor’s note: A huge thank you to all of you who read my posts. Last week I went over the 10,000 view mark. it is a figure I never imagined four years ago when i began hunting and pecking on my keyboard. I appreciate everyone’s support.

With just a couple of 2019 full time drivers not confirmed for seats in 2020, Silly Season turns its attention to two potential rookies who finished 1-2 in Indy Lights.

It was just one sentence at the end of the Chip Ganassi Racing announcement regarding Marcus Ericsson joining the team in a third car for 2020. It said the team was trying to put together a deal for 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew. Askew ‘s name has also come up in speculation about the second car at Arrow McLaren SP.

Meanwhile, Indy Lights runner-up Rinus Veekay had his second Indycar test with Ed Carpenter Racing. The test may have been an audition for the road course races in the 20 as Carpenter plans to drive the oval races again. A ride for the Indianapolis 500 may also be included.

Veterans Tony Kanaan, Santino Ferrucci, and Max Chilton don’t have officially confirmed deals. All three should return to the teams they drove for this season. Conor Daly, meanwhile, is still looking for a ride. Ed Jones may be out of the series next year. I really don’t see where he fits.

Aeroscreen Gets a Rain Test

The aeroscreen’s second test at Barber Motorsports Park passed another test. Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud drove cars fitted with the new cockpit protection device for its first road course outing. Rain during the test allowed the drivers to check visibility in the wet.  Both drivers said the water dispersed off the screen better than it does coming off their helmet visors. neither driver saw a problem with rain.

I think it’s great  that they had the chance to observe what happens in wet conditions, but how will it do at the start of a wet race with 24 cars on track? What will happen to the last driver in a group of three or more? I hope they can get a rainy test day at an open test when more cars are on track.


On Wednesday, Kyle McInnes, whose great photographs have been featured in many race weekend stories this year, will be a guest columnist. Kyle took many amazing shots this season and will share them here.

Power: Car with Aeroscreen Could Race This Weekend

In a mid afternoon press conference  NTT Indycar Series Jay Frye said today’s Aeroscreen test “exceeded our high expectations. We learned a lot; we have lot of work to do but the foundation is set.” Frye said the cars will visually be different when teams do their own things to blend the new device into their liveries.

If necessary, the AMR  Safety Team will be able to remove piece “within seconds,” Frye said. “They already have a piece they are practicing on,” he added.

The day long test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw drivers Will Power and Scott Dixon log 600 miles by 3 pm. Both drivers agreed that the test was seamless . Both drivers commented on how quiet it was in the cockpit. “I can hear my radio,” Dixon said.

Power was impressed with how quickly the project came together.  “When you’ve driven it for a day you’re going to feel naked without it, ” he said. Asked if this car could race this weekend, Power responded, “you could race this weekend; no problem, no issue.” Dixon agreed.

Power and Dixon still believe some adjustments need to be made with the tear-offs and air flow adjustments. They both think reflections need work as well.  Dixon sais there are some optional and driver’s personal preference items that need to be looked into as well.

Tire wear was not a concern today. Power said the car was more forgiving. The new weight distribution helped, he said. Dixon said on his long run the speed fall off was about the same as this year.

Following the press conference Power and Dixon returned to the track to do simulated “qualifying runs.”

I started the day skeptical of the aesthetics and how the Aeroscreen would work. I am ending the day impressed with the new safety piece. Safety is the first priority and this is a step in the right direction. As the piece blends in with the cars, it won’t be noticeable. It should be even less noticeable on the new chassis in 2022, when it is an integrated part of the car.





Aeroscreen Test Update

Photos: Eric Smith, Race Review Online

When the teams broke for lunch, I took some shots from inside the cockpit.  It is  a tight fit. The drivers seemed to have difficulty getting in and out of the car.  I wonder how taller drivers like Graham Rahal or Alexander Rossi will be able to get in without a challenge.  This enhances my concern about a driver getting out after an accident.

Another noticeable thing was the glare from the front wing and suspension arms. The mirrors look to be in a different spot as well.

I went to the turn 2 mounds for a bit.  The aeroscreen is noticeable a bit at first, but after a a couple of laps I didn’t even think about it. One thing I noticed this morning, and in turn 2 as well,, is the reverberation off the walls sounds different. It seems a bit muted and deeper.

The cars are supposed to run together at some point today to determine how much dirty air there is and see how well they can pass.

Back after the press conference.




Aeroscreen Test Underway- Some Early Impressions

Everybody relax. This will take some getting used to. And we will get used to it.  Aesthetically it’s not the best looking Indycar I’ve ever seen, but it is the safest to date. I do see some things that pleasantly surprised me.

Since this piece is a retrofit on existing bodywork it is not going to be the best presentation. I think with the new car the aeroscreen will look better as an integrated part of the tub.

First, my biggest concern from a viewing standpoint, is that you can see the driver and his hands on the steering wheel. The screen is clear. I expected some kind of tinting that would make the driver invisible. Second, a crew member can reach inside to fasten the belts. I thought the driver would need to learn how to do that task.  I still have a concern about extracting a driver in a bad accident or in case of fire.

From the little bit I’ve seen of the cars on track, I don’t notice much difference at speed. I will go out to turn 2 later and see if I can see much difference in how the cars look on track. I imagine there will be a much more noticeable profile difference on a road course.

I talked to Cara Adams of Firestone this morning. The tire supplier is using the current tire and has also brought last year’s tire as a backup. She expects higher right front loads due to the weight shift to a higher position. I will try to follow up with her later.

Here are a few more photos.  I will up date later. Scott Dixon, Will Power, Jay Frye, and Andy Damerun of Red Bull Advanced technologies will have a media availability at 3 pm.

Aeroscreen Testing Begins at IMS Tomorrow

Tomorrow at IMS the NTT Indycar Series conducts the first of three on track tests of the new aeroscreen. Will Power of Team Penske and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing will drive cars outfitted with the new device. The test is slated to run from 9-5 ET. I will be on site to get a close up look and will be reporting during the day.

Notes from Indycar:

The series announced in May that the sanctioning body formed a partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies to design an Aeroscreen for enhanced driver cockpit protection that will be implemented for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.
The Aeroscreen is being developed to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The driver safety innovation that will surround the cockpit consists of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.
The RBAT design will be a poly carbonate laminated screen that will include an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the screen, anti-fogging device through an integral heating element and possibly tear-offs, all of which will be produced by integrated third-party companies. Another feature for the drivers will be a cockpit cooling option that will be designed by Dallara in conjunction with RBAT.
The titanium framework will mount in three areas around the cockpit – the chassis center line, two rear side mounts and roll hoop integration – to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities.
This will be the first of three on-track tests in three weeks for the Aeroscreen. Additional tests are scheduled for Barber Motorsports Park on Monday, Oct. 7 and at Richmond Raceway on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

A Look at the Aeroscreen

The new aeroscreen for 2020 was introduced on Carb Day by Jay Frye, President of Indycar, accompanied by Andy Damerum, and Ed Collings of Red Bull Racing.  The device will replace the AFP, which debuted at the Indycar Grand Prix.

My first impression was that it is too tall, it looks like an enclosed halo, and if the open area is covered, we have a single seat Daytona Prototype.  here are some other views.


The driver appears to be sit much lower in the cockpit, but that may just be an illusion. I like seeing the drivers turn the steering wheel. I don’t think this design will allow for that.

One question that wasn’t asked was what happens on a road or street course when it rains?  Frye said if the screen gets covered in oil, the car would have to pit to remove a tearoff.  Removing a tearoff will not help in the rain. Are we about to see wipers on Indycars?

Part of the aesthetic issue is that the screen is being retrofit onto  existing bodywork. When the new car goes into service, the aeroscreen (they’re still working on a better name) will be better integrated into the design. That may help lower the profile.

I liked the look of the windscreen that was tested last year better.  I understand there were problems with it as far as heat in the cockpit and distortion. Red Bull and Dallara are working on a cockpit cooling system as well as a defogging unit.

I’m all for making the cars as safe as they can. I’m not sure I like the look of the car with this new attachment. However, like the original screen and the AFP, , I would like to view it in person on a car.  I’m sure there will be modifications as they go through the on track testing.

Coming up tomorrow  I have a look at the Victory Banquet. Watch for my Detroit preview on Wildfire Sports Friday.

Welcome to Carb Day; Frye Announces Red Bull Partnership

Jay Frye just announced some exciting news for the NTT Indycar Series. Red Bull Advanced Technologies will partner with Indycar in developing  a windscreen which should be on all cars in 2020.  Teams should have the new part by November.  The piece is similar to the windscreen previously tested. There is a rigid strip in the middle of the screen. More on this story later.



It’s the final test for the 33 starters in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Todays conditions are closer to what is expected Sunday. The extended session should help drivers and teams get a better idea of how their cars will perform on Race Day.

The track is drying from the morning rain.  No announcement on the start time for practice, but I think the delay will be minimal.

Here is the release from Indycar: