Will There Be A Chassis Update Today?

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Today was the original deadline for the much-anticipated announcement on the chassis selection for competition in the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series, beginning in 2012. While that has been pushed back, we are supposed to get some type of update today that may give us an indication where this whole thing is going. The ICONIC committee that has been entrusted with this decision has heard proposals from the chassis manufacturers and has all the facts in hand that they need. Now they just have to decide. That sounds simple enough…right?

In all honesty, this is one of the toughest and most important decisions in the short fifteen year history of the league. Where the league goes in relation to equipment from 2012 and beyond will be a key factor in determining the long-term success of the league, and CEO Randy Bernard knows it. That is why he has formed the ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-effective) Advisory Committee; comprised of members from various areas of motor racing and headed by four-star Air Force General William R. Looney III. Some members like Brian Barnhart, Gil de Ferran and Tony Cotman have or have had direct ties with the IZOD IndyCar Series. Others, such as Texas Motor Speedway’s Eddie Gossage, have an indirect interest in the health of the series. Then there are Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler, both of whom hail from Jaguar’s Formula One team and Rick Long, who has a long and storied past with several engine manufacturers dating back to 1973 and the Turbo Offy program.

Their decision essentially boils down to the radical looking DeltaWing concept and somewhat more traditional looking proposals from Dallara, Lola, Swift and BAT Engineering. They may choose one single chassis, some or all of them – with the latter being highly unlikely. So what will today’s announcement hold if it comes? No one really knows. Each ICONIC committee member has signed nondisclosure documents and they have remained especially tight-lipped. Anyone claiming to know is merely speculating. But speculating is what bloggers do, so I’ll be no different.

My prediction is that the ICONIC committee will announce that the field has been pared down and that one or more groups are no longer under consideration. If I had to bet money, I would say that at least one of those groups is the DeltaWing concept. As time goes on, I keep hearing more and more people directly involved with the series say that they think that whatever chassis design is chosen – it should be recognizable as an IndyCar. The rough translation of that is that it should not be the DeltaWing.

Since the DeltaWing was unveiled in Chicago four and a half months ago, the range of opinions has been wide and varied. But I would say that the majority of fans, both hardcore and casual, have a negative opinion of the DeltaWing chassis. I’m too old-school to ever embrace such a crazy design for an IndyCar, but after hearing some of the ideas and principles behind the concept – I decided it was at least worth a second look. I got that second look in person behind the Pagoda in May. Although it looked interesting, I just couldn’t visualize it on that track just a few yards away.

Randy Bernard is not on the ICONIC committee, but you know he has instructed them on what to consider. They are an advisory committee and technically do not have the last word. But rest assured, Randy Bernard and the IZOD IndyCar Series will go with what they advise. He didn’t go to all the trouble to set up this committee, only to overrule their decision. Although there are no fans on the committee – and understandable so; Randy Bernard has shown that he is listening to the fans and their voices have been heard.

On a side note about Randy Bernard…The Indianapolis Business Journal ran an article written by Anthony Schoettle on Tuesday. The article is about how the author perceived that Randy Bernard has done a lackluster job in his first four months on the job, and he assigned him a “C” grade. I don’t live in Indianapolis and am not familiar with Mr. Schoettle, but I wonder what one has to do to receive an “A” grade from him. In the four months Mr. Bernard has been on the job, I’ve seen and heard mostly great things from him.

I was skeptical of him at first. The idea that a guy from Professional Bull Riding was going to come in and fix our sport was almost laughable. But what he has done has been nothing short of phenomenal. I’m not in favor of everything he has done; but his results, so far, have earned my trust (for whatever that’s worth) where I’ll give anything he suggests the benefit of the doubt. Such was not the case with his predecessor. To think he was going to come in and fix everything in four months is ludicrous. Should you care to read the article, you may find it here. You’ll also recognize a lot of the names in the comment section, including yours truly, defending Mr. Bernard.

But by taking the fans opinion into account and listening to teams and drivers, I find it hard to believe that the DeltaWing is still under consideration. Will any other groups be cut in the first round? I have no idea.

For the past two weeks, Trackside With Cavin & Kevin has had representatives from Swift and BAT presenting their case. Although they both emphasized different points, they each made strong cases for their designs. One point they were unified on was that their price would double if their company did not have exclusivity. While I understand their position, I certainly hope that the ICONIC committee doesn’t bow to such scare tactics. There needs to be competition in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Competition in motor racing starts with who has the fastest car. If they are all alike, you’ve already lost the interest of many.

Quite honestly, I say bring the remaining four (minus the DeltaWing) to the party and may the best design win. If it doesn’t win immediately,. It is up to their designers to make it win or risk falling into extinction. That probably won’t happen but I still hope that they allow more than one player. Speculation that centers on that can wait for another time – after the DeltaWing has been clipped.

George Phillips

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8 Responses to “Will There Be A Chassis Update Today?”

  1. Brian McKay Says:

    As in days of yore, when I was in Malaysia, several time zones ahead, I am the first (I guess) reader of the blog today! Woo-hoo!

    I would have liked to vote “No chassis will be eliminated yet, but they will announce (that) there will be multiple chassis” suppliers. I believe, as you do, that competition (even among suppliers to athletes) is good (aside from a tire war) and that variety is the spice of life!
    But I guess that today we’ll hear a non-announcement, a postponement of decision (poll choice 1).

  2. I’ve been mostly pleasantly suprised numerous times with decisions, and since I’m normally a skeptic/cynic, I’m not even going to guess what I think will happen. For me it’s a 33% chance of no annoucement (or postphonement), 33% “here are our finalists” and 33% “this is your new chassis.”

    Just as long as its not “we’re going to stay with the current setup through 2013.”

  3. I’m thinking that they won’t divulge any information. Not that they haven’t made a decision. I’m sure the ICONIC committee will present their decision today, however, Bernard will rightly wait for the right “stage” to make the announcement. I trust that between Bernard, and Izod, they will do it with “panache”. I’m just wondering what “event” is happening in mid July that would be the logical place to make an announcement? The Brickyard 400 perhaps????

    Wouldn’t that be another coup!

    And as for Mr. Schoettle, this is the 3rd inane piece he has posted on the Izod Indycar series. The first demanded that Bernard “apologize” for the split. The second claimed that a public feud between Danica and TK would “destroy” the series. And now this twaddle. I’m guessing that he has figured the only way to get traffic to his website is to write stuff like this that will infuriate the Indycar blogosphere. In which case, mission accomplished.

  4. I think the engine spec announcement was a hint that they won’t be going with the Deltawing. And to me, the only thing keeping the idea of a multi-chassis series afloat is the boat called Wishful Thinking.

    I think they’ll go with Dallara. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing for now. Reliable, safe, experienced. It’s the safe and logical choice in this stage of series development and in the unsure economic times.

    Is it as exciting as some of the other designs or as futuristic and outside the box as the Deltawing? Nope. But the new Dallara designs were much better than the current tub and if I was an owner I think it would be the least disruptive and safest bet at this time.

  5. Savage Henry Says:

    I predict that they won’t kill off the DeltaWing until the last possible moment. If you want to create a buzz, you need to keep your most contriversial item in the conversation. Killing off DeltaWing prematurely would be like the writers of Dynasty killing off Alexis Carrington halfway through Season 2. Love her or hate her, that’s the character people were tuning in to see. Same with DeltaWing – its the only design that anyone seems to have strong feelings about. People who love it will stay engaged in the hopes it will be selected, people who hate it will stay engaged in the hopes it doesn’t, and those who are indifferent will be interested to witness the wild celebrations and apoplectic hissy fits when the announcement is made.

    This announcement is kind of a snoozer without the DeltaWing.

  6. Jim Gallo Says:

    According to Indycar.com this morning, it looks like July 14th there will be an announcement in Indianapolis. No other comments until that time.

  7. In defense of Anthony at IBJ, they are a business publication. In order to deserve an A Randy needed to hit the ground running. Since he came on board the ratings and attendance haven’t improved. He is known as a promoter yet it is entirely unclear what elements of the series he will be pushing or how he will push
    them. Yes engine rules have been announced and chassis will soon be here, but the overall strategy of the series is entirely unclear.

    If you were a business partner would gou be ramping up investments that depend on indycars success right now. Bear in mind that a huge percentage of US businesses will be starting a new fiscal year this week. Their budgets are set right now. Ask PT how that pacts racing!

    From a business perspective a C is pushing it.

  8. billytheskink Says:

    I’d argue that any grade for Bernard is pushing it, even from a business perspective. A grade for the series on the other hand…

    Sadly, IndyCar is not in an industry conducive to rapid turnarounds, nor does the series have the resources to quickly address its many problems. Bernard took the helm of a weak and dysfunctional company, and has unfortunately had to spend much of his first 4 months fighting internal fires and repairing relationships with desperately-needed partners.
    I think he’s done well so far, and Schottle actually seems to agree. What we both wonder is whether it will be enough, whether IndyCar can be “saved”.

    But that’s the problem I have with the article. It is a very fair assessment of IndyCar’s shortcomings, but a poor assessment of Bernard.
    Schottle does a good job of listing the many serious problems IndyCar needs to address. He also realizes and, early in his article, acknowledges that he should be grading Bernard on a curve if at all. Despite this, he doesn’t, he grades Bernard on expectations he knows are unrealistic and projects IndyCar’s failures onto a guy who has had half a season (and pretty much no offseason) to tackle them.

    Schottle’s article would have been much better if he had avoided judging Bernard and instead focused on what he needs to address as CEO, knowing he hasn’t had the time to make anything close to the impact, good or bad, that he will ultimately make on the series.

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