IRL press conference on 2012 new chassis, part 3

Continued from part 2 HOKE: Thank you, Scott. And thank you, Mayor Ballard, very much. At this time join me in welcoming Dallara's CEO, Andrea Pontremoli, and the rest of the Dallara team. ANDREA PONTREMOLI: Good morning. I feel a little...

Continued from part 2

HOKE: Thank you, Scott. And thank you, Mayor Ballard, very much.

At this time join me in welcoming Dallara's CEO, Andrea Pontremoli, and the rest of the Dallara team.

ANDREA PONTREMOLI: Good morning. I feel a little bit excited today.

So I am here representing the Dallara Group and I want, also, to say thank you to my team members that are here with me today. We are really honored and proud to have been selected as the chassis constructor for the future IndyCar.

We want to thank the ICONIC Group. We worked very hard in the last 90 days to be able to answer the very thoughtful questions and we came out with innovative solutions keeping in mind safety, cost, raceability and versatility.

Another aspect where we put attention was on opening a new facility here in Speedway, Indiana. What I want to say is that we will open here not only a factory to build up the new IndyCar, but in addition we would like to have a knowledge center where we will have engineering capabilities and a new state-of-the-art simulator where drivers, race engineers, and "Why not" fans, could practice even before the IndyCar is built.

This means that this will create new jobs from Dallara, but also for the third-party suppliers, and we need to link with Indiana universities to create the race engineers of the future.

This is the Dallara way to help the economy and to boost the promotion of the IndyCar Series, through knowledge, and I want to mention an open network of knowledge, open to our partners, open to everybody. Innovation means openness

And I want to point out one word that has been said by the team, "inclusive." We are inclusive. We are not exclusive. We want to be partner with the people that are here.

We feel the responsibility and working with this extraordinary community, I think that today we start a new model for our motorsport in the future. Thank you for your help.

BERNARD: Thank you, Andrea.

We are very pleased with the outcome of the search for the 2012 car as we feel we've met our objective of opening the door to competition and creating the opportunity for different looking cars to compete on the track. Again, I have to thank the ICONIC Advisory Committee and everyone involved in this process for working toward the best interest of the future of this sport and what we hope will generate new buzz and excitement.

Most importantly, we made the cost of participation in our series a great value. Overall, we anticipate the 2012 IndyCar's cost, including chassis and engine, to be under 1 million dollars, whether in a competitive or non-competitive environment, a savings of over 40 percent from our current car. I look forward to Dallara's physical plant taking shape and its rollout of the Safety Cell in the next 18 months. And I also look forward to the growth of the motorsports industry in Indiana that this announcement will spur and how it will benefit the Hoosiers.

Once again, I want to challenge the automotive and the aero industry as well as other manufacturers and engineers to create aero kits for these cars and further enhance the innovation and relevancy of the IZOD IndyCar Series as we move into the future. Thank you very much.

HOKE: Randy, thank you, gentlemen of the advisory committee, thank you.

We're going to take some group photos right now, and after that we'll have a media-only Q & A session that will be moderated and a chance for one- on-ones here. We'll have wireless microphones coming out to the reporters that are assembled here. Thank you all for coming.

Will Power is here today. You're nodding your head, you're excited?

WILL POWER: I'm very excited. I don't think you could ask for anything better. The car is going to be lighter, it's going to be faster. It entices other manufacturers to come in. I think this is the best direction that they could have gone. I think the ICONIC Committee did a fantastic job.

HOKE: I bet you can't wait to get in one of these cars?

POWER: I'm looking very forward to it, especially with the more horsepower and it's a bit lighter. So, yeah, it's going to be fun.

HOKE: Will Power from Team Penske here with us today.

We're just about ready to start. We'll have a couple of microphones. I've got one and I think there's another one. Just put your hand in the air, we'll get a microphone to you as quickly as we can.

HOKE: Who's got the first question? Is we'll get a mike to you.

Q: Thank you, everybody. My name is Derek Daly with WISH-TV. With the two body kits, and Brian, you may be the one to answer this. I presume the car will be called a Dallara. I presume everybody's car is called a Dallara?

BARNHART: Actually, before we get any additional kits presented, the car will be referred to as an IndyCar. Once the kit is submitted and approved, the car branding will go by the intellectual property rights or by the owner of that kit. If a team does their own kit, if a Team Penske does a kit, it will be a Penske IndyCar. If any other manufacturers come on, it could be a Lockheed IndyCar, it could be a Boeing, could be a General Motors, could be a Ford.

Q: Great, excellent. So do you think with Dallara building the car, does that encourage or eliminate Lola or Swift or BAT?

BARNHART: We certainly encourage it. I think it makes it easier for them. As Tony Purnell's comments mentioned, it is certainly a fraction of the cost to design an aero kit as opposed to designing a complete car. We think it's an inclusive invitation to every manufacturer out there to create the clothes and put an aero kit on the rolling chassis.

Q: And could a Dallara be then called a Lola?

BARNHART: Absolutely. If Lola builds a kit to put on it, it will be a Lola IndyCar.

Q: Good, thank you.

DE FERRAN: If I may add something there. I think it's important to say that the rolling chassis, being they're built by Dallara to IndyCar specifications, so hence the reason why it's branded with the name of the guy that creates the aero kit.

Q: One of the drivers that was here today says his big question is, is this car capable of going 235, 240? He says he wants to hear "It's a new track record" in his lifetime. Is this car going to be designed to be able to do that?

BARNHART: I think our message, Bruce, is that one of efficiency to begin with. We want to do more with less. So by making the car a lighter car, by downsizing the engine with a maximum of six cylinders and a maximum of 2.4 liters of displacement, as we stated in our June engine strategy, we're looking for a range of horsepower between 550 and 700 horsepower with the intention of at least maintaining, if not increasing, our performance at all the tracks we run on. So I certainly think there's an opportunity for us. It's certainly a safety-related aspect of it. But as we're making the move to this car in the first place, the reason behind the change with the IndyCar Safety Cell is the safety enhancements of the tub itself. If we're capable with the advances of the SAFER Barrier and where we're at, the potential for increasing speeds everywhere we run certainly exists.

Q: Follow-up to Randy. Do you want to see a new track record return to the Speedway?

BERNARD: I think the first question we have to maintain is to make sure that there's safety involved. I mean if safety is our number one priority, and if that can happen, of course we'd love to hear that.

Q: Randy, when you announced the ICONIC panel, you said you would assemble the panel, take their suggestion, and decide whether to accept it or not. I assume by this production today you've accepted it. But the question is, did you accept this as it was delivered a hundred percent? Or did you push back at anything?

BERNARD: You bet. I definitely -- I was a fly on the wall and it was an amazing process to me to see these seven members. I meant what I said when I said that their ideas were 180 degrees different at the beginning of that. And they wanted to listen to what our staff had in proof of data and research and see what fans, and we even had research back from CART days and we used that.

We really gave them the information they asked for and let them make an analysis. There was no reason to not go along with their ideas. It was right in line with, I think, with what fans wanted, too.

Q: Can each gentleman explain what was the key factor in selecting Dallara over the other four?

PURNELL: I can answer that. The decision is a holistic approach. It's not one thing, it's everything. When we step back and look at the various proposals given and presentations, we felt Dallara was the complete package. We were very comfortable in going forward with them.

And I have to say they addressed every aspect that we asked them to and they addressed it with gusto. They really wanted this.

Q: Three questions, one for Tony and one for the other Tony and one for Brian.

Tony, you worked for Lola, they gave a dynamite presentation from all reports. Everybody is kind of thinking is there a reason that you couldn't have a Lola IndyCar cell and a Dallara? Was there a key reason they couldn't both build them?

PURNELL: Yes, the reason is commercial reality. We would love to have everybody involved. The economic times as what they are, a single supplier making as many standard parts as possible produces a dramatic cost save.

So we were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and we decided to take that adversity and turn it around and come up with something with real innovation to try and get everybody possible involved in this series that we could. So, OK, we could only choose one Safety Cell manufacturer. You know, designing a chassis is a complex business, manufacturing it you need to be in tune with the designers. But heck, we've given every opportunity for anybody with the expertise to get involved in this series. And I meant what I said: They're welcome.

Q: Tony Cotman, when you rode herd on the Panoz in 2007, one of the key issues was cost control and price fixing. Will the IndyCar Series as a whole tell Dallara this is what a wishbone is going to cost or how is that going to work?

COTMAN: I think cost is right up there with safety on this project. As we've moved through the process, you know, we've been pretty diligent about what components are going to cost, what it's going to cost a team over a three- to five-year period. And you know, there are still some small details to be worked out between the League and Dallara, I'm sure. But where we are at this point, I feel we've gone in the right direction a hundred percent, made incredible strides from where we have been and all signs point that I think it's going to be really excellent and very viable for the teams.

Q: Brian, if somebody comes to Dallara and says we want to buy the Indy cell but we don't want the bodywork, can they buy the bodywork and how much would the bodywork be?

BARNHART: That's what we talked about yesterday. The IndyCar Safety Cell without bodywork originally from Dallara is 349 (,000). Additional aero kits that you can purchase up to two kits for each given racing season have a maximum price of 70 grand on those.

But the original Dallara body kit for the original car, if you don't get any subsequent kits produced, is $36,000. So that's the difference between 349 and the 385. But you can get the Safety Cell without, if you wanted to choose two other aero kits as your two kits for that given season.

Q: Brian, in assessing the situation concerning cost, safety emphasized, cost is also emphasized. In hindsight, is it a mistake to fix the cost? Might it have been better to have the suppliers determine what the cost would be as long as they meet the safety requirements the League is looking for?

BARNHART: I think it was a real challenge for us because historically the two are diametrically opposed to each other. When you end up with a spec series and people need to remember, one, we're a spec series that we're currently in right now by default. We didn't choose a spec tire when we had Goodyear and Firestone competing, Goodyear left the series. And we had Panoz and Dallara competing on the chassis side and Panoz left the series. And we had Toyota and Chevrolet and Honda and two of those left the series. We ended up where we are now by default, not by choice.

The benefit that comes from that is we were able to reduce the cost somewhat because there's no R & D. There's no need to recover some of those costs. So when you get the whole field, economies of scale, you're able to reduce costs somewhat and that's certainly helped us. But you also become a stale series at that point. There is no innovation, there is no competition.

Clearly the fans want to see different looks on the racetrack. They want to see competition out there. Historically competition drives costs up. What we really feel great about from a committee standpoint is that we are opening this up to anyone who wants to build aero kits, yet at the same time we've accomplished reducing the cost of participation. We think it's the best of both worlds, bringing costs down, creating great value in the series, yet at the same time allowing for competition and what the fans want to see, different looking cars on the racetrack.

Continued in part 4

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Derek Daly , Will Power
Teams Team Penske , HART