Yes, that’s a real race car, and it’s expected to turn an LMP2-prototype-level laptime despite having tires that are just four inches wide and a 300-horsepower, four-cylinder, direct-injection-turbo engine.
The DeltaWing is this years “Garage 56″ car, meaning a car that isn’t really a LeMans competitor but which demonstrates important technical ideas. It weighs about half of what a regular prototype does and keeps almost all of that weight on the rear wheels. Aero drag, which is critically important at racetrack speeds, is minimized thanks to the unusual profile and cross-section. It doesn’t look anything like a regular “prototype”, and that’s good to hear since the average modern prototype wouldn’t greatly shock anyone who saw one of Jim Hall’s Chaparrals fifty years ago.
It’s laudable that the LeMans folks are letting the DeltaWing run, but a truly brave organization would relax the rules and let stuff like that race for all the marbles, in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. It’s been pointed out again and again that restrictive rules actually increase the cost of professional racing in high-end series, since new ideas are often cheaper than endless, grinding refinement of old ones.
Whatever. We wish the DeltaWing the best of luck. Meanwhile, SCCA National Champion and Daytona Prototype gadabout Scott Tucker has withstood Jalopnik’s puff pieces and full-press hits to run again at LeMans this year. It just goes to show: racing has room for everyone, from dildo-shaped prototypes to check-cashing nouveaus, as long as you bring cash and plenty of it.