A beautiful red rose. A charming cottage on the New England coast. Britney Spears (when her weave is fixed correctly). The Mona Lisa. A Japanese zen garden. The Great Barrier Reef. The Lamborghini Miura. These are all things that are considered beautiful by the vast majority of people. We are surrounded by a world full of pretty and attractive things. But, for every beautiful and attractive thing in this world that exists, there exists something equally as ugly.
As humans, we are drawn to things that are attractive. Why do you think People Magazine puts celebrities and air brushed glamour shots on the cover of their magazine? Pretty sells. Ugly, however, does not sell. Lets take the much maligned Pontiac Aztek for example: A pseudo-SUV based upon an unliked minivan platform covered in ungainly grey plastic with enough creases, dips, waves, grates, and baubles to make even the most seaworthy pirate motion sick just staring at it. It was, and still is, hideous. It was a business disaster never meeting even the most modest sales goals set by General Motors.
I, for one, like attractive people. Let’s take Mr. Tomas Scheckter for example. Just look at that body. Even the butchest of lesbians out there have to admit that is one fine specimen of a man. Beside the fact that he is an excellent wheel man, has an aggressive yet charming personality on and off the track, and a is proven winner…he’s…hot. Again, people like pretty. Heck, if Danica Patrick was a 250lb grumpy hag that resembled Jimmy Spencer, you could be rest assured GoDaddy.com wouldn’t have her plastered on every TV set in a bikini straddling the hood of a muscle car no matter if she won every race she ever entered or not.
All that brings me to the Dallara DW12. I think Dallara naming the new Indycar after the late Dan Wheldon was a great gesture, but I have to admit that I shuddered to think that his name would be attached to such a hideous vehicle. I know many of the things that make the DW12 so awkward looking serve a functional purpose, but you can’t tell me there wasn’t a more attractive way to achieve many of the goals set forth by the ICONIC committee. In today’s world street cars have to pass a myriad of safety regulations with things like bumper heights heavily regulated, and Ferrari still makes beautiful cars. Actually, I find it almost offensive that the Italians, the same folks that have brought you the jaw-dropping Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, Ferrari’s, and Alfa Romeo’s through the years, have presented us with the Dallara DW12.
After years of having only 1 chassis in the series, the opportunity to place Indycar at the forefront of open-wheel design wasn’t seized. Imagine Kate Winslet hyping her arrival on the red carpet of the Oscars. In the heads of fashion critics, fans, and paparazzi visions of gorgeous Vera Wang designs appear. Instead, Kate arrives in what appears to be a Wal-Mart sale rack special, sans make-up, and in serious need of some Spanx.
Not only is the DW12 dreadfully unattractive, it is performing about as good as it looks. The main issue revolves around balance and weight distribution. After one quick glance at the design, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that the vehicle has too much junk-in-the-trunk. The side pods extending partially over the rear wheels have been deemed “Kardashians” by many for good reason and the rear “bumper” looks like a tacked on after thought. I’ve seen foot tall aftermarket spoilers tacked on the back of Chevy Cavaliers that look more integrated and purposeful. And, the most maddening aspect of it all is the car doesn’t have to be so homely. One glance at the Formula Nippon cars designed by Swift Engineering are proof that open-wheel cars can be gorgeous. The front wing of the Swift racers alone makes me weak in the knees. The Dallara makes me weak in the stomach.
Whether it is picking out an outfit, picking out a spouse, decorating a house, planting a flower, buying a car, or grabbing a magazine at the store, we as humans gravitate to things that are pretty and attractive. This is a lesson Indycar, and especially Dallara, needs to learn. Aren’t they supposed to be attracting fans, not scaring them away?