HOUSTON January 27, 2012—Don Halliday, one of the most respected engineers in open wheel racing, has signed with AJ Foyt Racing as chief engineer of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara powered by Honda and driven by Mike Conway.
Halliday’s connection with Foyt can be traced to one of Foyt’s former drivers, Kenny Brack, who won the IndyCar championship in 1998 and followed that up by winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1999.
“Kenny and I were talking about AJ’s situation,” Halliday explained. “Kenny and AJ have remained in touch ever since Kenny drove for him, and Kenny is a very good friend of mine, so there was a connection,” said Halliday.
Contact was made with Larry Foyt, team director of AJ Foyt Racing, who has been working the phones since October interviewing several drivers and engineers as he began reshaping the team in preparation for the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series season.
“It’s really exciting to have Don on board with us,” said Foyt. “The chief engineer is obviously a very important piece of the puzzle when you talk about building a race team, so getting to know him and watching him interact with our group as we started to work together makes me very optimistic. I really enjoy his approach to engineering a race car and his methodology, and I think it’s going to fit in really well with our team. So far everyone has jelled very quickly and we’re all really looking forward to getting on the race track and going racing.”
After meeting the team principals, Halliday was encouraged by the friendly atmosphere and spirit of cooperation among the team members. “It should be fun, the people are very friendly here,” he said.
More importantly, Halliday is looking forward to the challenge of sorting out the new Dallara. It was precisely that challenge that motivated him to become involved in the sport he had stepped away from after the 2003 season.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see how everyone handles this new car,” said the New Zealand native who has been a U.S. citizen for a number of years. “It’s what I’ve always been used to from working in Formula 1 and through designing Indy cars as well – that’s part of what you do. It’s going to be a different challenge for everyone but it’s one that I’m quite used to. Plus I enjoy the challenge and it’s one of the reasons for getting back in the series.”
Halliday’s open wheel resume dates back to the late ‘70s, working with the Bruce McLaren Formula One team before moving on to Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team in 1983-1984. He moved to Indy car racing in 1985 with Maury Kraines Kraco team, spent a couple years in Formula 3000 before returning to Indy cars for good in 1989. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he enjoyed success with some of the top teams and drivers in the series including Truesports (with driver Scott Pruett), Tasman, Team Kool Green (with drivers Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy), and Team Rahal (with driver Kenny Brack).
Halliday’s return to the IndyCar Series last year followed a productive entrepreneurial period for his automotive engineering company Halliday Technologies Inc. which he founded in 1994. Halliday Technologies Inc. holds several patented designs in auto safety related areas, including the Grip Evaluation and Management (GEMTM) Device – a breakthrough technology that determines measurable levels of grip between individual tires and the road surface. This technology has been used in auto racing and by Firestone in the development of race tires.
Halliday also designed a military vehicle using DMACS technology which vents the blast through the vehicle providing enhanced protection for the war fighter in the event of an IED blast.
“I’ve become a bit of an inventor,” he acknowledges.
Halliday’s being able to think outside the box is one factor that appeals to team owner A.J. Foyt.
“We spoke about a lot of things and I like the way he thinks,” Foyt said. “I believe he will bring a lot to our team this year. My son Larry has done a great job putting together one of the strongest teams I’ve ever had. I’m really looking forward to the racing season.”
The ABC Supply team is planning to test in Sebring, Florida next Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan 31-Feb 1) with Conway. It will mark the first time that both team and driver experience the new Dallara/Honda package.