After months of planning, thinking and worrying about how the the race control officials would handle the race I am pleased to say that the new team is going to be a welcome addition to IndyCar. The new additions to the team are the new race director, Beaux Barfield whom I worked with in ALMS. New steward Gary Barnard, whom I worked with when I was race director in the Atlantic Series. New driver coach and steward Arie Luyendyk and myself, driver steward.
Yesterday at Saint Pete was our first IndyCar race, with new cars, engines and race officials it was a crap shoot to see if it was all going to work. Beaux did a great job in the drivers meeting explaining all the procedures and mainly explaining the protocol for on track behavior which includes blocking.
Arie and myself are there to sort of be a liaison between the drivers and the calls that Beaux makes in race control, if we feel that Beaux is out of line we are there to speak up on behalf of the drivers. We also look at on track incidences and help determine if any action should be taken. The only real incident that took place was between Ed Carpenter and Helio. Helio was on Ed’s gear box coming out of 14 on to the front straight, Ed was pitting and Helio didn’t know it so when Ed checked up to get into the pits Helio tagged him in the rear which spun him off into pit entrance. We didn’t penalize Helio as it is the responsibility of the driver entering the pit to either let the guy behind know he is pitting or get off line before slowing down. Other than that we saw some defensive lines on track and some very close racing but the drivers really took care of each other and respected the new rules.
My hats really off to Beaux, as the new race director there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders and a lot of people ready to jump down his throat the minute something goes wrong. The guy is really smart and thinks through thousands of possible scenarios so he is prepared for what might happen in a race situation. He keeps a cool head and focuses on making the race safe and fair to everyone regardless of what team they drive for.
The next IndyCar race is next week at Barber in Alabama, I won’t be at that one but will be back on the circuit starting at Long Beach April 14/15.
Stay tuned, ya never know what will happen next race!
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