Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which operates IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has named consistency and transparency as the “critical values” for the series’ new stewarding lineup.
At the Verizon IndyCar Series’ two-day Test in the West, Miles held a press conference along with president of competition Jay Frye and two of the newly-appointed race stewards – chief steward Dan Davis, and steward Max Papis. (Arie Luyendyk is currently on holiday.)
Miles admitted to the assembled media: “We’re not satisfied with our performance last year. Many of these [new] measures are aimed at making improvements around consistency.
“We think the competitors and the teams ought to know what the rules are and know in advance what they can expect in the way of penalties if they are breaking the rules. I call that transparency. Those are critical values.”
Miles reiterated what Frye told Motorsport.com regarding race director Brian Barnhart’s new role.
“He’s got to control the pits, the safety cars, the pace car, all the mechanics that are very important,” said Miles, “but not officiating in the sense of deciding when there’s an infraction, and if there is an infraction, what the penalties should be.
“Part of the rationale is that we want Brian not to be distracted… by thinking about whether there were penalties and if there were infractions, what the penalties ought to be. We think we have the right guy in that position, he’s got so much experience,” he said, pointing directly to Davis.
Davis looked to return
Davis himself, who led Ford Racing for 11 years, cited “honesty, integrity and fairness” as his guiding tenets throughout his career and going forward in his new role in IndyCar.
“If you don’t have integrity you don’t have anything,” he said. “That is what we’re going to bring to the stewardship. I think it’s important and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Since leaving his position at Ford Racing and a management slot with Miller Motorsports Park, Davis said he had been looking for the right way to get into open-wheel racing.
He said: “I was just looking for a way to get in and help. I tried to make that known. Then Jay got ahold of me and said, ‘Do you have any interest? Let’s chat.’ Off we went.”
Papis can "make a difference"
Papis, a three-time Indy car race winner, said he took the position because of the love he has for the sport. "It’s been the No. 1 reason why I came here," he said.
“When Jay called me, I asked him exactly what he wanted out of me. When he told me the words ‘consistency, transparency,’ I was sold.”
Papis, who is still an active racer and intends to drive at least the two road races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar in 2016, said he believed that will give him a useful perspective as a race steward.
He said: “I’m still a racecar driver. It’s a set of eyes that really can determine the reasons things are happening on the track. It is going to make a really big difference.
“Everything that I will do, everything that we will do, will be for the love of the sport and nothing else.”
Kanaan praises new stewards' roster
A friend of Papis, 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, welcomed the new line-up.
The Chip Ganassi Racing ace said: “I think they have a big responsibility. They’re going to have tough calls to make, so hopefully they will get it right.
“It helps we have two drivers there because then we [as drivers] can see there’s a person who understands about racing. Then it’s a good balance having Dan there, too. I think it’s a good combination.
“I hope they’re ready to take a lot of heat because that’s what’s going to happen to them. That’s just the nature of the business.”
Kanaan said that when stewarding decisions went against him, he didn’t expect it to affect his friendship with Papis.
“We’re bigger people than that,” he said. “We’re here working – he has a job to do and I have a job to do. We’re not going to agree 100 percent of the time. If I do something, he’s going to see it one way and I’m going to see it a different way.
“In this case he has the power to decide, so even if I agree with him – or not! – at the end it’s going to be his decision. I totally understand that. Let me put it this way: I would not lose a friendship of 25 years because of one race.”
Kanaan also believed that Davis as chief steward and Papis and Luyendyk as stewards would make a strong combination, and was preferable to having just one person making the decisions.
“When it’s one person’s job, it’s that point of view and that’s it,” Kanaan observed. “There are two drivers who have driven a racecar. I think it’s a good combination. Now it’s up to us to obey the rules.”