Today Xtrac are proud to supply gearboxes to every IndyCar on the grid as we have done since the start of the 2000 season. The 101st Indy 500 was every bit as exciting as the previous 100 and was won for the first time by a Japanese driver, Takuma Sato, becoming the sixth different winner in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.
The race saw the yellow flag being deployed 11 times and unusually, the race was red flagged for a short period for barrier repairs following the huge accident of Scott Dixon and Jay Howard. The excellent safety of the current IndyCars which have the very latest technology such as SWEMs (suspension/wheel energy management) and the RIS (rear impact structure) integrated into the P1011 transmission was shown following this incident when both drivers got out of their cars unaided.
Xtrac’s technical support team from our Indianapolis base were on hand for all sessions throughout the month of May, assisting teams for all of their gearbox requirements. Following Dixon’s crash on lap 52, the Chip Ganassi Racing team requested a new gearbox which was duly delivered directly to the team’s garage, during the race, by Xtrac which allowed the team to start to prepare for the next round in Detroit straight away – excellent customer service is Xtrac’s ethos!
Xtrac began supplying gears and gearboxes to IndyCar teams in the early 1990s before becoming the exclusive supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2000. A key requirement for the P195 gearbox, introduced in 2000, was driver safety and in conjunction with the various chassis suppliers and the organising technical commission, a gearbox with a significantly lower polar moment of inertia and a rear impact structure (RIS) was produced. The P195 gearbox was used until the end of the 2002 season when it was replaced with the updated P295 gearbox which had a much larger carbon fibre RIS along with SWEM wheel tethers adding to overall safety. In 2008, Xtrac developed a pneumatic gearchange system with partners Mega-Line to allow all cars to be upgraded to paddle shift. This change removed the need for a gearchange cable or rod, thereby offering the driver even greater levels of safety by lessening the risk of injury from cockpit intrusions and the additional inherent safety of allowing the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
The current specification of gearbox, the P1011, was a natural evolution of the P195 and P295 and was introduced for the 2012 season. This gearbox utilises an updated version of the AGS, highly integrated RIS and SWEMs, and continues to perform with exemplary performance, reliability and safety including a 100% problem free running in the 101st Indy 500. Xtrac’s ongoing investment programme in the Indianapolis facility, additional machinery, additional staff including the award winning apprentice and undergraduate programmes, and staff training will ensure that the IndyCar grid will continue to benefit from the performance, quality and reliability that Xtrac has successfully brought to the series for many years.