IRL: Officiating team announced

For Immediate Release BARNHART TO HEAD IRL OFFICIALS; NEW PROCEDURES ANNOUNCED FOUNTAIN, COLO., June 25, 1997 -- Brian Barnhart, the former superintendent of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been named director, racing operations of the...

For Immediate Release

BARNHART TO HEAD IRL OFFICIALS; NEW PROCEDURES ANNOUNCED

FOUNTAIN, COLO., June 25, 1997 -- Brian Barnhart, the former superintendent of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been named director, racing operations of the Indy Racing League and will head the officiating team starting with this weekend's Samsonite 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, it was announced in a teleconference today.

Changes in race procedure and personnel were also announced as the League takes over officiating functions for the first time.

The announcement was made by Tony George, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and League founder, and Leo Mehl, vice president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and executive director of the IRL. The League had previously announced plans to change the officiating structure from the United States Auto Club to an IRL responsibility.

"We have put together a wonderful team," Mehl said. "The majority of the people who will work with us the rest of the year were with USAC. We've just changed leadership and improved communications. We've built this thing around people who have a lot of experience and we've added some other key people. If you come to a race, you're going to see a professional group."

Supervisors under Barnhart are Phil Casey (director) and Les McTaggart (consultant) in the technical area; John Lewis and Mike Mahoney, track safety; Chuck Whetsel, timing and scoring; Mel Harder and Rich Coy, track operations; and Joie Chitwood, race administration. Three significant procedural changes were announced: 1. The radio frequency for race control will be 400 MHZ to allow race teams and spotters to hear decisions as a race evolves. 2. Operation of track lighting systems will be the responsibility of the chief starter. 3. New equipment and procedures to effect a streamlined electronic/manual timing and scoring system.

"It's a challenge," George said. "You have to deal with being under a microscope for awhile. A lot of these guys have been in the trenches and done a good job. These are guys we want to keep in place to make a smooth transition.

"The goal all along was to have the IRL start out and focus on marketing and promoting and use USAC's structure to officiate," he added. "Ultimately, the intent was to have the IRL officiate the League. Circumstances being what they are, we're capable to step up now."

Samsonite 200 practice starts Friday at the one-mile Pikes Peak oval. Sunday's race will be aired live by ABC Sports at 3 p.m. (EDT).

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NOTE: The teleconference may be replayed through Thursday by calling 303/267-1037, ID#211015.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George , John Lewis , Brian Barnhart
Teams HART