IndyCar completed a successful test of its new clear deflector device Thursday, which is designed to protect a driver’s head from being struck by debris.
The clear deflector is IndyCar’s solution to the problem of driver head protection in open-wheel racing categories. The FIA and other motorsports safety commissions set to work on such devices following the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson in 2015. Wilson, who was 37 at the time of his death, was struck on the head by a nosecone from Sage Karam’s car after he crashed out from the lead on Lap 180 of 200 at Pocono.
Aesthetically, IndyCar’s clear deflector looks much better than the halo device Formula 1 and other open-wheel categories have adopted. F1 tested a similar-looking clear deflector last year, but it failed to meet safety standards the FIA had laid out and distorted Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel’s vision. But IndyCar appears to have addressed both of these issues. The clear deflector was developed by PPG Industries, which used Opticor in its construction – the same stuff fighter jet canopies and airplane windows are made of. The device is more upright than Formula 1’s as well, which likely warps the field of vision less. It also looks pretty badass, but the main idea here is to improve safety.
IndyCar has yet to test the strength of the windscreen, pending further tests on a street course and a road course. IndyCar ace Scott Dixon tested it at Phoenix Thursday, speaking positively of the device and saying it didn’t warp his vision. The lack of airflow meant he got a little hot, so driver cooling may be an issue, but that should be easy enough to solve.
You can watch Dixon put the deflector to the test in the video embedded below.