IRL: Barnhart and Angstadt report on state of IndyCar

Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt held a press conference at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to give a state of the sport address. Angstadt, president of the league's commercial division confirmed that 16 of the 17 race dates on this year's ...

Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt held a press conference at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to give a state of the sport address. Angstadt, president of the league's commercial division confirmed that 16 of the 17 race dates on this year's schedule would be back for 2008 with the 17th race to be announced in the future.

All of the races are expected to be on the same weekends as in 2007. The Detroit race, which has a 5 year contract with the city, will be held Labor Day weekend, August 29-31, 2008. The event will be a doubleheader with the IndyCar Series and ALMS on the same bill.

Although the series will remain with 17 races for next season, Angstadt, said "with the west coast a priority and the potential of events in Canada and Mexico," the schedule could grow to 20 events.

Citing demands for IndyCar racing abroad, Angstadt suggested a limited international schedule shortly after the "domestic championship concludes."

Looking to the near future, the IndyCar Series will hold a post season test some time in mid-October and two tests prior to the start of the 2008 season. Equipment feasibility tests will be conducted with an eye towards the introduction of a paddle shift system on IndyCars for 2008. Paddle shifters, which cost around $25,000, would be mandatory for full season teams while one off teams, competing in the Indianapolis 500 would be able to use current shifter technology.

The series will also look to improve side impact protection by adding a 7mm thick panel, consisting of 21 layers of Zylon, to each side of the chassis. The FIA has mandated the same modification for Formula One in 2008.

Barnhart said the series is also considering new steering technology for 2008, which implies power steering, "to enhance the steering effort on road courses." Barnhart also said that research is ongoing regarding efforts to "identify the most effect seat design, structure and seatbelt configuration."

Looking to introduce a new tub as early as the 2009 season, Barnhart said a new tub would "feature a wider cockpit area with improved head protection. We would go from our current 19 inch wide cockpit to a 21 inch wide cockpit -- similar to F1 -- that will make the extraction of the driver that much easier. The new tub, when introduced, would be the nucleus of a new chassis that could debut as early as 2011."

On the television front, Angstadt reported that he expects the full 2008 season to be produced in high definition television. Noting that 30 million people watch ABC's Dancing with the Stars, Angstadt said, "I don't think we all know quite yet the tremendous exposure Helio is about to deliver when he takes the stage."

Getting Helio to leave the stage may be another matter as the two-time Indianapolis 500 has yet to miss an opportunity to remind folks to vote for him when the show premieres on September 24.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Brian Barnhart