ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Next year's IndyCar racers will have more components "tethered" to the chassis, FOX 13 learned.
High-tensile Zylon cords will be tethered to the vehicle in order to "minimize the possibility of components becoming detached from the race cars during accidents," according to a news release.
IndyCar declined to provide further comment to FOX 13 on Tuesday.
During the 2014 St. Pete Grand Prix, spectator Brigitte Hoffstetter, who was hundreds of feet away from the track, was injured by a piece of debris from driver Marco Andretti's car.
Hoffstetter's lawsuit against IndyCar, the local race promoter and the city of St. Petersburg claims that newly-introduced "aero kits" began breaking up in the first lap of the race, and continued to do so even after she was injured during the 33rd lap.
The lawsuit accuses the racing entities of failing "to do so much as warn the race's spectators of such new and additional risks of harm."
Kim Green is a former driver, race team owner and now promoter of the St. Pete Grand Prix. He explained the purpose of the aerodynamic components introduced last year.
"The race cars are designed like a reverse airplane, instead of giving lift, they're giving down force," Green said.
Individual teams have a lot of latitude to design their own, very specific, aerodynamic kits, which introduced a lot of variations. Contact between vehicles is inevitable.
"IndyCar drivers sometimes get the mood to make that move, got to be a little bit aggressive, and they're going to kind of rub on each other to get through a corner," Green said. "In one way, that's pretty exciting, but in some cases, you might knock something off too."
He praised 2016's safety enhancements.
"What they're then trying to do is to make sure that that stuff all stays attached," he said. "And they've made huge gains in recent years with these tethers that can do that."
Justin Johnson, Hoffstetter's attorney, released a written statement to FOX 13.
It said that "mandatory tethering of aero kits could have, and should have, been implemented before the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to prevent injury and loss of human life."