The Deafening Silence
It’s been over three weeks since the DeltaWing chassis concept was unveiled. Since the initial outcry, many of us have moved on to other things to discuss like driver signings, etc. I made a silent vow to myself that I would not bring it up again for quite some time. Almost everything that could be said had already been said. With the season starting in earnest next weekend, there were just too many other things that I’d prefer to talk about.
But I’m noticing a disturbing trend that has me more than just a little perplexed. For the second week in a row, Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee tried to pin down an influential member of the IndyCar community to get their honest opinion of the DeltaWing chassis that we saw displayed last month in Chicago. Both times, they were subjected to a delicate tap dance that would have made Helio proud.
Tim Cindric from Team Penske and Gil de Ferran of the newly re-named de Ferran Luczo Dragon Racing – two men that I have a tremendous amount of respect for – both had the question posed to them in the last two shows. Last week, Cindric quickly defused the explosive subject by saying that it was best to focus on the series at hand. He sited the fact that Izod had just come on board along with Randy Bernard and it was best to focus on promoting the racing we have currently. He then stressed that the worst thing we can have is a lot of owners disagreeing on something after finally getting all the teams and owners in to one series – a stance I totally agree with.
Last night, Gil de Ferran was the guest who received the same question. de Ferran was always one of my all-time favorite drivers. I liked the way he carried himself on and off the track. His short time in the ABC booth was a little shaky, but he certainly had his moments. What I always liked about him was his candor. Although he was always very tactful, you always knew what Gil de Ferran was thinking…until last night. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone ramble through an answer like de Ferran did last night.
He droned on and on about how IndyCar needs to get back to what made it great and repeated variations of that theme for what seemed like an eternity – yet he never really confirmed what it was that MADE it great. Throughout all of that, he never once said whether he liked or hated the DeltaWing.
So here we have two men, both of whom I respect and admire and neither will say a disparaging word against the project. Coincidentally, they are both connected to Roger Penske who has also been curiously quiet on the entire DeltaWing matter. My question is…why?
While so many team owners were so quick to jump in line behind the DeltaWing concept, why are others so careful not to criticize it? You can understand Chip Ganassi’s zeal for the project since he has funded either all, or a large portion of it. John Barnes has already gotten the approval of every ten year-old boy he has come across, which is enough to explain his enthusiasm. Kevin Kalkhoven has made it quite clear that he is solidly behind the hideous project. If all of these owners are so free with their opinions of the DeltaWing, what about those that are not in favor of it? You know there are some owners who hate it – where are they?
Has anyone gotten a peep out of AJ Foyt on the DeltaWing? I haven’t heard his opinion of it, but I have an idea he has one. I also have a pretty good idea what it is. Why have we not heard from him? Foyt is always more than willing to let everyone know exactly what is on his mind. I’m sure he’s not ambivalent on this subject. What does Carl Haas think about it? Robbie Buhl is both a car owner and broadcaster. Surely he has some thoughts he is allowed to share.
Why is it that the blogosphere is the only place that you will see it in print that some people hate this concept? If owners or drivers dislike it, they’re not talking. Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee admit they’re not crazy about the looks of it, but they also try to appear to tread very lightly on the subject.
It’s almost as if anyone who comes out and speaks against the DeltaWing, is as dishonorable as someone saying they hate puppies and are in favor of cancer. They are immediately vilified and portrayed as treasonous.
I realize that Dallara has stuck it to the owners over the last few years by charging full price for an ancient chassis design, but does that mean they shouldn’t listen to Swift or Lola? What is it about this topic that is so sensitive that even the most influential people in racing have to carefully guard their every word?
Before we saw the DeltaWing concept, it was already becoming apparent that this was going to be a polarizing issue. I jokingly offered that a conspiracy theorist would have a field day trying to figure out the real reason behind the DeltaWing concept. Well, now the joke doesn’t seem so funny. When AJ Foyt doesn’t ring in with his opinion on such a volatile subject, it tells me that something is brewing. The trouble is, I don’t know what that ”something” is.
Opinionated, millionaire owners are used to going against the grain to get what they want. It’s in their nature. There was never a shortage of opinions or quotes fifteen years ago, in the days leading up to the split – and many of these are the same owners as then. So, what gives? Can anyone explain their silence?
This should be a joyous time of the year as the green flag is about to be waved on the 2010 season. Optimism and excitement is usually in the air at this time. It still is, but the uneasy silence among some of the owners is adding some trepidation to the air. The DeltaWing has created a buzz, but it is also creating a great divide. Tim Cindric is right…that’s the last thing we need.