Like most of his colleagues, de Ferran was intrigued by the concept but felt there were too many holes in the proposal. For example, the DeltaWing was designed around the Global Racing Engine -- a proposed international formula for a small, direct-injected, turbocharged in-line four-cylinder. "The advocates of the world racing engine have a good case to make," says committee member Neil Ressler, the retired Ford VP who previously served as chairman of the Jaguar F1 team. "But while I think it will come to pass, no [engine manufacturer] was in a position to commit to the series, and no one did." So the committee voted to permit larger, turbocharged V-6s making up to 700 hp, which computer simulations suggest would allow the low-drag, lightweight DeltaWing to lap Indianapolis at an implausible 310 mph.
Timing, ultimately, was what sank the DeltaWing. "I agreed with a lot of the concepts behind it," says committee member Tony Cotman, formerly Champ Car's VP of operations and the IRL's well-respected VP of competition. "If we had been talking about 2014, we may have gone in a totally different direction. But there were too many unknowns about the vehicle. I wouldn't be surprised to see it surface again down the road. The contract with Dallara is for four years. So who knows what will happen in 2016?"
Partel hopes to have the DeltaWing up and running long before that. He's putting together proposals for alternative engines and high-profile record attempts, and he's thinking about shopping the car in Europe and Asia. "We have engines," he says, referring to manufacturers who are developing Global Racing Engines. "We have teams. We have tires. We have fuels. We have chassis. With all those elements in place, I don't think starting up an alternative series would be that difficult."
History suggests that the task may be harder than Partel predicts. Then again, history hasn't seen anything like the DeltaWing, which looks like open-wheel racing's best chance to reconnect with fans at a time when the sport seems increasingly dull and irrelevant. Maybe the car is too radical for Indy. But it's too promising to be filed and forgotten. "The genie is out of the bottle," Bowlby says, still managing to sound upbeat. "Somehow, somewhere, someplace, we believe the DeltaWing will be raced."
Let the revolution begin.