CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Reacts to new CART testing rules

CART's franchise board announced this weekend in Surfers Paradise, Australia new testing rules that will take effect November 1, 1999. The new rules will limit the number of test days available to FedEx Championship Series Teams. The new ...

CART's franchise board announced this weekend in Surfers Paradise, Australia new testing rules that will take effect November 1, 1999. The new rules will limit the number of test days available to FedEx Championship Series Teams.

The new restrictions limit multi-car teams to conduct no more than 32 days of testing, of which, only 12 of them can be conducted during the race season. A one-car team will be allowed a total of 24 days of testing with eight being allowed during the season. In the past, teams had been allowed 50 days of testing with additional days available for tire testing and rookie testing.

Below is reaction to the announcement from Ford team owners and team managers:

JIM MCGEE - Team Manager, Patrick Racing -- WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF CART'S DECISION TO LIMIT TEST DAYS FOR THE 2000 SEASON? "It's not that big of a change from what we had. Right now, the out of season testing, the 20 days that are allotted -- it's tough to use those 20 days. By the time you get your car and the blackout days are over you have probably only about six weeks to use those 20 days. You will have a hard time using those days. The in-season testing is plenty adequate. You look at the testing we were doing, the tire testing, engine testing, you know, we were just getting to a point where you were testing because everybody else was testing and that puts a big drain on not only the employees, but the budgets as well. This new rule is going to help that. It's a start, I think next year at least it's something we can work with."

DO YOU THINK THIS NEW RULE WILL HELP TIGHTEN UP THE GRID AND CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN THE BIG BUDGET TEAMS AND THE TEAMS WITH LESSER BUDGETS? "I think it will. I think it will give the opportunity, or at least as much of an opportunity in regards to testing as all of the other teams. But you don't know what the reaction by some of the higher financed teams will be, whether they will spend more time with computer simulations in an attempt to get an advantage. But it may be more cost effective to do that than go out and do other stuff. From an equipment standpoint and an employee standpoint, simulations are done typically with an engineering group. So, there is not going to be as much of a drain on mechanics and the budget from the standpoint of engine rebuilds and chassis pieces and so forth because now at least they know how many miles of testing they are going to run. The max any team can usually run is 200 miles a day, knowing that the manufacturers can come up with a bottom line number of what they are going to need to service the teams for the year. So, I think it has a lot of good advantages."

SCOTT ROEMBKE - General Manager, Team Rahal - HOW WILL CART'S NEW TESTING RESTRICTION AFFECT YOUR TEAM? "We were one of the teams that were actively pursuing this restriction. I think that Barry Green has been pounding this drum very hard too, and he was one of the teams working with Bob (Rahal) on this for the past year. Our approach is that testing is a necessary evil you have to do. But, it's not building a lot of value. What's come with the expansion of the test schedule is that the testing is creating a big burnout among our employees and forcing us to get bigger test teams and what not. We weren't looking at it as a cost savings issue at all, quite frankly, we're going to spend everything we've got anyway. Whether we go test or spend it at a wind tunnel, we'll spend all of our money. While cost is always an issue, we were looking at it on a personal health of the employees and try to have some semblance of an in season schedule that allowed you to properly maintain your cars and your guys. The rule that was passed was a small step. I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's going to drastically change anything, but it's going to make you think a little harder about what you are going to do. Teams that want to run up front will test everyday. Regarding open days, there are a lot of people who don't like them, we do."

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT TESTING OF SECRET PIECES, TIRES AND ENGINES THAT YOUR TEAM OR MANUFACTURERS ARE DEVELOPING? "Well, some people would say that with these cars, maybe we need more secret bits. I think that if you needed to test your top-secret stuff you could do it on your own days. There's no law that says you've got to drag it out with 22 other guys standing there. Right now with the tire war going on, you don't know what tire that guy is running on in the next pit. Tire tests (rule eliminating tire test exemption from limitation) is the biggest single change. Bobby was in favor of a much bigger reduction but, we'll be grateful for what we've got."

HOW DO YOU THINK THIS RULE IS GOING TO AFFECT THE TURNOVER ON THE TEAMS? "I think that is an issue that we needs to do something about. It at least shows that people don't want to be on the road 365 days a year."

BOBBY RAHAL - Team Owner, Team Rahal -- WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CART ANNOUNCEMENT TO LIMIT TESTING? "It will allow us to do what we want and save our people and sanity. It's a step, a baby step. I don't think you'll ever get where there's no testing, but I don't think you should."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Barry Green