To be clear, I do not like the DeltaWing concept car. Primarily because it does not fit my definition of "car," that being roughly rectangular with four corners. Therefore, I hope the ICONIC advisory board does not recommend the DeltaWing as the 2012 IndyCar.
I do think we should all give the DeltaWing developers props in several key areas.
1) Giving everyone permission to think freely, SIR! -- When it comes to "radical" or even "very new" ideas, nobody wants to go first. Because they are afraid they will be ridiculed and look bad. DeltaWing went first -- which required courage and came at a cost -- and offered a seriously radical idea for the new car.
I and others played our role of howling at it and comparing it to man parts. BUT, as we all know, once someone has gone first with a crazy idea, then it becomes much easier for others to offer other crazy -- or at least unconventional -- ideas. DeltaWing gave everyone cover in that area, because they could always say "At least it's not as insane as the Delta Wing." Having a radical idea out there just emboldens others to think in a more fresh fashion. So thank you DeltaWing for blowing the conservative lid off this thing right out of the gate.
2) Kudos for Scientific Honesty -- Delta's chief designer Ben Bowlby went there. Delta's idea was to take the function of fuel efficiency, lower costs, etc. etc. and just see what form emerged. And there it is. Would have been easy to widen out the front wheels and compromise a bit on the specs they were shooting for, but DeltaWing didn't do that. That took some large, and praise-worthy, attachments.
3) Willingness to Meet and Greet the Customers -- Really sustained props to Ben Bowlby and the DeltaWing peeps for their work displaying the windtunnel mock up and meeting and greeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 500 fortnight.
(Note: all car designers were invited to have displays in the Pagoda Plaza, but were only given something like 36 hours notice. The others, which didn't have full-scale mock ups, did put up posters.)
Bowlby spent hours next to the car, meeting fans, asking what they thought, explaining how it works, etc. etc. And he seemed to be enjoying the interaction.
I talked to him a bit about the car (read it here) at IMS and liked Mr. Bowlby immediately. He knew I was not a fan, yet was happy to discuss things with me. Very classy and admirable. If only everyone of differing opinions could interact so cordially. I am sure if the other entrants in the 2012 car derby had a prototype they would have done the same, but Bowlby was indefatigable at IMS. Kudos.
4) Buzz Building Props -- You gotta give it to the DWing for drawing a crowd. At IMS people were looking, touching, getting their photos taken with the car. Again, hard to say what would have happened if Swift slammed down my personal favorite, the 66, next to the Delta Wing, but the futuristic, visually radical nature of the Delta did get people talking.
Like the DeltaWing or loathe it, give its makers hearty congratulations for the reasons above. Someone has to go first if the league is to start thinking beyond centuries old traditional boundaries to new, innovative ways to grow and thrive in the 21st Century (something I carp about constantly). Delta did just that.