IRL press conference on 2012 new chassis, part 1

SCOTT HOKE: Sarah Fisher is here with us today for this afternoon's announcement. There will be more drivers here. Sarah, first of all, are you excited about this announcement? SARAH FISHER: I'm very excited. I think there's been a lot of...

SCOTT HOKE: Sarah Fisher is here with us today for this afternoon's announcement. There will be more drivers here.

Sarah, first of all, are you excited about this announcement?

SARAH FISHER: I'm very excited. I think there's been a lot of work put into it. The future of the IZOD IndyCar Series is strong and we're really happy to be here and happy to be a part of it.

HOKE: How many times have you called the committee and said, "Here's what I think you ought to do"?

FISHER: They've done a tremendous job so far. I'm sure what we're going to hear today, I think it's going to be really exciting and it's going to present us with a strong future.

HOKE: Sarah Fisher, ladies and gentlemen.

We'll being hearing from a lot more folks as the afternoon progresses.

Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to today's IZOD IndyCar Series Future Car Strategy announcement. I'm Scott Hoke. I would like to sincerely thank everyone for being with us today and for attending this monumental event, including several special guests who are with us in the audience.

First of all, the governor of Indiana, the Honorable Mitch Daniels, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Speedway Town Council President Bill Suffel.

Also, we'd like to welcome the Hulman-George family, Mari and Nancy, as well as Tony, Jr., Jesika, Jarrod and Kyle are here in the audience with us tonight.

All of the team owners, principals and drivers, including Will Power, Tomas Scheckter, Sarah Fisher and J.R. Hildebrand and drivers we hope to see in the series sometime in the very near future, like sprint car champion Levi Jones is here with us today.

We also have representatives from various IndyCar partners and sponsors including Erik Berkman of Honda and Al Speyer of Firestone here with us today.

Many of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar employees are here with us today to be part of our big announcement. We thank you for being with us as well.

And certainly the media that's taken the time to come out and cover today's event, especially those of you who have traveled from long distances to be with us here today. Finally the fans, many fans are here with us today in the audience and watching us live streaming on IndyCar.com.

We thank you all for being here for the announcement.

We'll begin with a formal presentation, followed by a photo opportunity and then a moderated Q & A session for the media with today's participants. Again, please no flash photography until we give you the OK.

Right now I'd like to introduce the man who will kick off today's historic announcement. Please join me in welcoming IndyCar Chief Executive Officer, Randy Bernard.

RANDY BERNARD: Good afternoon, and thank you, Scott. Well, today is an exciting day and I would like to thank all of you for sharing it with us.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the board of directors, Mrs. George, Nancy, Kathi, Josie, as well as Jack Snyder. I'd also like to thank Jeff Belskus for his support.

It's a true honor to hold this position. Today is a result of listening to all of you that share your ideas, your passion and your input. From the fans, the press, the team owners to the drivers and sponsors, you've all had the input and we've listened.

The decisions we have made were not easy. We tried to be cognizant of costs for the team owners while keeping in mind the fans who want change. This decision is one of the most important decisions of the decade for the IZOD IndyCar Series and its future. And with so many knowledgeable and passionate experts in the industry, it was only right to create a committee to help with these mammoth decisions -- the ICONIC Advisory Committee.

We started with a list of over 110 experts and narrowed it down until we had selected the perfect seven that represented the core areas of IndyCar. I'd like to recognize Steve Krisiloff for his help and support during this process. Thank you.

Then I knew I needed a great leader that the seven experts would respect to oversee these meetings. I chose a retired four-star general who I had tremendous respect and trust in. One of his last commands was to modernize the United States Air Force aircraft. His responsibilities were very similar with this command, relating to speed, economics, innovation and technology.

I want to thank General Bill Looney for the outstanding job.

Personally, it was an amazing experience to witness these seven experts who had such a wide range of ideas and opinions work together. After our first conference call, I couldn't sleep that night thinking about what I heard. All I could think was how are we ever going to get these seven experts to decide on a car in the next two and a half months? Their opinions were all so different and we had such a huge task in hand.

But they rolled up their sleeves with the research, the data, serious debate and critical thinking, they gave it their all. It was amazing to see how they started looking at the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series as a team, and I'm proud to say that every issue was funneled down to a unanimous decision. I truly believe they didn't need any more time. They used it wisely and kept on task to meet the deadlines.

It's important to thank ICONIC Advisory support team. Donald Davidson, Amy Konrath, Tracey Todd, Gretchen Snelling, Terry Angstadt, John Lewis, Les Mactaggart and Kevin Blanch. These folks worked many hours supporting our ICONIC Advisory Committee, all with backup and follow-up.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this is a huge honor, to know in 18 months this car will be a reality and that these great drivers that sit here today will be driving it.

Drivers, please know that safety was always a priority while competitiveness, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, green, modern and technology were all major attributes that were taken into account. The one thing that no one can deny and we should be thankful for is that all five chassis manufacturers took this process very seriously, presenting concepts with great ingenuity and innovation. We are truly grateful for their time, their energy and their creativity.

I would like to single one manufacturer out and that's the DeltaWing. Their concept created tremendous buzz and truly forced the committee, fans and entire racing community to reach with their imagination. I want to personally thank Ben, Dan and Chip for pushing for a change that is about relevance and the next big idea.

...Video of ICONIC Committee vote.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to finish this process and make the announcement. I would like to go to the boardroom with General Bill Looney where the ICONIC Advisory Committee earlier this morning took its final vote to ratify their recommendation. Thank you.

GENERAL BILL LOONEY: Good morning, gentlemen. As you know, in the next few moments, each and every one of you will be casting a vote as to the future of IndyCar. But before you do that, I'd like to take the time to thank you for all of the hard work and effort that you put in to the many days of discussion that we've had in the committee. The debates have been lively, there have been disagreements as can be imagined. But at the end of the day, I believe you did a great job of representing the perspectives of the manufacturers, of the fans, of the drivers, of the owners, and of the League.

Now is the time to make that vote. What I will do is ask each one of of you, I will call you by name. If you will use your Verizon Droid X to cast your vote. I will conclude the voting by using the proxy that Mr. Eddie Gossage has given me since he is unable to attend today.

With that, let me start with Mr. Brian Barnhart.
Tony Purnell.
Gil de Ferran.
Rick Long.
Tony Cotman.
Neil Ressler.
And I will conclude the voting by voting for Mr. Eddie Gossage.

Thank you all.

HOKE: The ICONIC Advisory Committee advisers cast their votes. We are moments away from the results.

... IndyCar historic video presented.

HOKE: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The base of this new car is a rolling chassis and enhanced safety cell which will be produced by long-time IndyCar partner Dallara. Various manufacturers will produce changeable body work for this car. They're known as aero kits. The aero kits will give the cars distinct look front and rear, front and rear wings, side pods, engine covers. And what you are seeing today with this hologram behind me are concepts of what these cars might look like.

The IndyCar Safety Cell is being dressed in different sets of aero kits. The new car provides diverse looks to the cars while allowing for open competition.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this time I'm honored to welcome to the stage the members of the ICONIC Advisory Committee to explain the future car strategy. As we welcome these gentlemen, please at this time feel free to take flash pictures.

First of all, please welcome Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Tony Cotman, founder of NGR Consulting, focusing on race circuit design and safety. Tony also introduced Champ Car's new design in 2007. He's a current member of the FIA Circuits Commission.

Next is Gil de Ferran, co-owner of De Ferran Dragon Racing and winner of the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

Please welcome Rick Long, owner of Speedway Engines Development Inc. Rick Long.

Tony Purnell, founder of Pi Research and former head of Ford's Premier Performance Division. Tony is a former representative of the FIA. He was educated at MIT and is a professor at Cambridge University.

Next is Mr. Neil Ressler, former vice president of research and advanced engineering and the chief technical officer at Ford Motor Company. Neil has been involved in motorsports for more than 25 years.

At this time I'd like to mention that Eddie Gossage, the president of the Texas Motor Speedway and valued member of this ICONIC Advisory Committee very much wanted to be with us here today but unfortunately was unable to attend. You'll hear from Eddie momentarily.

Finally, our moderator, four-star General William Looney, who oversaw the modernization of the U.S. Air Force's fleet of aircraft.

General Bill Looney.

LOONEY: Thanks, Scott. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As moderator of this advisory committee, it was my job to make sure that the objectives of raceability, safety, cost effectiveness, efficiency, relevancy, greening, and a modern look were all addressed.

And I've got to tell you from my perspective, this committee did an outstanding job in all of these areas.

I've been honored to be part of the process and be able to participate with these world-class professionals of motorsports.

Now I'd like to turn things over to the members of the advisory committee to further explain the attributes of the exciting and future strategy for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

With that, let me welcome Tony Purnell.

TONY PURNELL: Thank you, Bill. The whole committee loved the variety and inventiveness of the designs presented. But the question remained how could we deliver low costs and yet get the diversity the fans demanded.

Our solution? Make the parts that the fans can see, that is the whole body shell and the wings, free for anybody to supply.

Consider the aerodynamic body work is the key performance differentiator between any chassis, it is the facet of the car design that matters most, both visually and technically.

Our decision delivers a state of the art rolling chassis and Safety Cell as a base. Dallara is making this for us and they have impeccable credentials with regards to safety and top quality construction. Clothing the Safety Cell is a job that can be tackled at a tiny development cost compared to designing the complete vehicle.

We're hoping lots of technology concerns stamp their names in the Indy 500 history book by dressing this chassis in different and sexy ways. The hologram shows how different the solutions might be, yet all within the rules. It's a revolutionary strategy, opening the door for many to rise to the challenge of Indy, not just the traditional chassis manufacturers.

Our goal is to reach out and challenge the automotive and aerospace industries. So come on, Ford, come on GM, Lotus, Ferrari, come on Lockheed, come on Boeing, come on you engineers working in small technology businesses. We want you to rise to the challenge.

There's a framework here to showcase your technical prowess without a major raid on the piggy bank. We want you guys involved, it's time to pick up the gauntlet. Roll on 2012, bring it on.

BRIAN BARNHART: Thank you, Tony.

I certainly share your enthusiasm and it's been a real honor working with you and every member of this advisory committee. Another goal of the committee was a substantial cost reduction in the price of the chassis to help with the economic stability of our teams as we move to a new car.

The IndyCar Safety Cell from Dallara will cost $349,000, while a complete car will cost $385,000. This is a 45 percent price reduction from our current cars.

We're also expecting a significant increase in the life of the parts. This will result in an overall reduction in running costs of nearly 50 percent.

Any manufacturer can produce the aero kits for the chassis, however the parts must receive approval from the series, fit within certain price parameters, be available to all teams, and undergo safety testing.

Each team will be allowed to race two different aero kits during the racing season. As part of this strategy, we will experience a sizable increase in our technical staff, enhancing our team and facilities to become a world-renowned technical organization.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Gil de Ferran , Levi Jones , Will Power , J.R. Hildebrand , Brian Barnhart
Teams Dragon Racing , HART