The Indy Racing League has announced who will be on its ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) IZOD IndyCar Series Advisory Committee.
WHAT A MOUTHFUL!
Can you imagine being on that committee and having a business card with your name on it, followed by that gobbledygook?
Halfway through, it would say: CONTINUED ON OTHER SIDE.
Anyway, this committee will "review, research and recommend" a future IndyCar Series chassis and engine platform that may – or may not – come to life by the 2012 season.
The committee will be mediated by retired U.S. Air Force Gen. William R. Looney III.
A friend of mine, who is a wit, sent me an email:
“It has come to my attention that the future of open-wheel racing in North America is relying on:
– A committee decision.
– Army intelligence.
– A Looney in charge of the process, (the 3rd in a string of Looneys).
– A final decision by a CEO with no experience in racing.
What could possibly go wrong?
The reference to the CEO with no experience is to new IRL CEO Randy Bernard, who most recently ran professional rodeo and only saw his first Indy car race three weeks or so ago in Brazil.
In any event, there are several other problems with this committee.
Two of the seven members are from Formula One.
Since when did F1 ever race on oval speedways where cars can go into a wall at
220 miles an hour?
(Or is there something else at play here - such as the eventual phasing-out of oval-speedway racing? This is another topic for another time, but something to keep in mind . . . )
Brian Barnhart, who is president of competition
and racing operations for the Indy Racing League, is on this committee. The
committee will do its work and prepare a report and present it to . . . (wait for
it) . . . Brian Barnhart.
So Brian Barnhart is on a committee that will submit its report to him. Swell.
Like Fox News, however, I am fair and balanced
and will say that three of the committee members – Gil de Ferran, Tony Cotnam
and Eddie Gossage are bang-on excellent choices.
One last thing before I present the list: Three or four teams in the IRL, which represent about 10 cars, are currently in excellent shape financially and commercially. The rest are hanging on by their fingertips so any serious talk about a new car for the 2012 season is poppycock – basically.
Unless – UNLESS – this committee comes back and
“As of the 2012 season, Indy car racing will be a run-whatcha-brung, anything goes, series. The only criteria will be the car shall be an open-cockpit, open-wheel creation. Any motor powered in any way will do.”
Now, that would be interesting.
Here are the people on the committee charged with determining the future of Indy car racing:
Brian Barnhart: As president of competition and racing operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League, Barnhart is responsible for development, innovation, safety development and implementation, medical, officials, technical specifications, event logistics and is an IZOD IndyCar Series representative on the board of directors of ACCUS, the U.S. representative to the FIA. Prior to joining the Indy Racing League, Barnhart served in various mechanical roles on Indy car race teams from 1982-94, including Galles Racing, Penske Racing and Patrick Racing and worked with legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Gil de Ferran: The 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner served as sporting director for the Honda Racing Formula One team. He formed de Ferran Motorsports in 2008 to compete in the American Le Mans Series as a driver/owner and now in the IZOD IndyCar Series through a partnership with Luczo Dragon Racing. De Ferran, who competed in CART/Champ Car and the IZOD IndyCar Series, became known as the "professor" because of his reputation as a technically astute driver. His technical feedback abilities and engineering background earned him vital development roles with all the major manufacturers instrumental in his career. De Ferran was elected to the advisory committee by his fellow team owners, while all other representatives were appointed.
Tony Purnell: Purnell is the former team principal of the Jaguar Racing Formula One team as well as a former Technical Consultant to the FIA. He is the founder of Pi Research. By the late 1990s, Purnell had built the company into a highly successful global electronics business.In 1999, the company was purchased by the Ford Motor Company and Purnell was appointed to head Ford’s Premiere Performance Division, a role that was followed by his senior positions in Formula One. Purnell is a visiting professor at Cambridge University’s Engineering Department.
Eddie Gossage: As a top promoter in sports, Gossage has made Texas Motor Speedway one of racing’s premier venues. He was named vice president of the speedway in 1995 and charged with building the 158,000-seat complex located in the nation’s fifth largest media market, Dallas/Fort Worth. He was named president of the facility in February of 2004. Gossage has promoted 20 IZOD IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and was named the Indy Racing League’s "Promoter of the Year" in 2001. Prior to his tenure at Texas, Gossage served as vice president of public relations at Charlotte Motor Speedway and manager of the motorsports division of Miller Brewing, overseeing its NASCAR, Indy car, sports cars and drag racing programs.
Neil Ressler: A former chairman of Jaguar Racing in Formula One, Ressler served various roles at the Ford Motor Company during his tenure, including senior research scientist, principal design engineer in the Suspension and Steering Division and director of quality and product systems before taking charge of core product development. Eventually he was named head of advanced vehicle technology, looking at the future development of the automobile. Ressler served as vice president and chief technical officer of research and vehicle technology with responsibilities for Advanced Vehicle Technology, Scientific Research and Environmental and Safety Engineering.
Tony Cotman: A two-time Indianapolis 500-winning team member, Cotman served as team manager for Team Green in CART in 1998, winning 11 races in three years. In 2001, he was promoted to vice president of racing operations, guiding a three-car program for Team Green and eventually a four-car program when the team became Andretti Green Racing and moved to the IZOD IndyCar Series. From 2005-07, Cotman served as vice president of operations and race director for the Champ Car World Series, where he oversaw the implementation of a new chassis. He served as the Indy Racing League’s vice president of competition until 2009 before leaving to form NZR Consulting, focusing on race circuit design, safety and management. He continues to serve as a member of the FIA circuits commission and is still active in the league as race director for Firestone Indy Lights.
Rick Long: Beginning with the 1973 Indianapolis 500 in support of the Turbo Offy program, Long has been involved in the development of high-performance racing engines. His experience extends to the Turbo Cosworth, Judd and Turbo Buick engines used in Indy car competition. In 1996, Long and Herb Porter founded Speedway Engine Development, Inc. (SEDI), which served as the OEM builder for GM’s Chevy and Buick engines in the IZOD IndyCar Series, controlling the selection of internal components as well as the tolerances used during assembly. Through a proactive program of applied development, dynamometer testing, and trackside support, the SEDI team "fine tuned" the engine to achieve the maximum potential for performance and reliability. Today, SEDI is the sole builder and supplier of engines to Firestone Indy Lights and also supports the engine programs of several USAC Sprint, Silver Crown and World of Outlaw teams.
“I feel that this advisory committee best represents a group of experts that encompass the key areas of car development, and I’m confident that they will do their best to come up with an objective recommendation on the future car that is in the best interest of the sport," said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer, Indy Racing League.
“Their goal is to keep in mind key attributes like safety, competition, industry-relevance and cost-containment while evaluating avenues for the future chassis and engine. This is one of the most important decisions the Indy Racing League will make this decade so I want to be sure we do our due diligence before committing to any future direction.”