U.S.-based Dallara IndyCar simulator under construction

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Last summer, NBCSN’s Jan Beekhuis gave viewers a look inside Dallara’s Italian headquarters, which includes a state-of-the-art simulator used regularly by IndyCar Series teams.

But now, a second simulator is being constructed at the IndyCar chassis manufacturer’s outpost in Speedway, Indiana, a stone’s throw from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

According to the series, the American simulator will be fully operational by the end of April, just in time for the Indianapolis 500. However, it already has the reconfigured IMS road course – site for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 – available for teams to test out potential set-ups for that race.

Per Dallara testing manager Alessandro Moroni, both the American and Italian simulators will be linked together, although newer technology will make the American one more powerful. The simulator figures to be primarily used for racing purposes, but Dallara hopes to use it for other means as well.

“Automotive and tire manufacturers – any kind of simulation,” Dallara USA CEO Stefano DePonti told IndyCar.com. “I also have in mind simulations with police departments for training, such as car chases.

“…You can test a new component with accuracy and less expense than real testing. You get aware by using the simulator; if I use it for this, maybe I can use it for this other aspect.”

Last May, a $1.15 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation was given to the motorsports engineering program at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology inside Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.

The school has a research partnership with Dallara, and through that grant, funding was found to create and operate the new simulator.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”