IndyCar has radically reworked the look of its vehicles recently, but the series is about to debut one of its biggest design changes yet. Starting with today's race in Ohio, every car will feature LED panels that show the driver's position in real time.
The new panels were first tested in April, and they're meant to give fans at home and at the track a better sense of what's going on during any point of the race. IndyCar planned to debut them at the Indy 500 in May, but the technology wasn't quite considered race-ready in time. The digital clock-style LED panels are located on both sides of each car's "airbox," which is just above and behind the driver's head. They measure 8 inches wide and 7 inches tall, and are only 3 millimeters thick.
Some fans actually got an early glimpse of the LED panels in action during practice and qualifying sessions that were live streamed on IndyCar's website throughout the weekend. While the panels didn't necessarily stand out during wide shots of a full pack of cars, they were very easy to spot in any medium or closeup shot.
IndyCar already has a few different uses in mind for the panels. The series will use red numbers to display each driver's position for the majority of the race. When a driver makes a pit stop, the panels will be used to count out the duration of the stop in green numbers. A flashing green "PP" will tell fans when a driver is using the series' "push to pass" feature, which briefly increases the car's horsepower. IndyCar has said it will consider using other colors in the future.
Today's race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be televised on CNBC at 1:30PM ET.