Return to the hot seat has not been smooth sailing for Barnhart

One would think that the reaction to Barfield not being at Toronto would be treated with respect once INDYCAR stated that the Race Director was absent due to personal reasons.

When INDYCAR first announced that their Race Director Beaux Barfield would miss the Toronto doubleheader for personal reasons, there was immediate reaction by the press more so than that of the IndyCar drivers.

Rumors flowed from Barfield not having the proper visa to cross the border between Canada and the USA but that seemed a bit fare fetched since Toronto has been on the schedule before the season started; along with the fact that Barfield is not a newbie. His experience in racing is vast and he has traveled more than a few times!

Then came the rumors that the man hired at the end of 2011 season to to replace Brian Barnhart was himself under scrutiny by the powers at the head office in Indianapolis. That also did not ring true. There has not been any outcry by the drivers or the team owners to can Barfield, nor has any driver given him a negative gesture as Will Power did when Barnhart was in charge.

Personal leave of absence can include a variety of things that can happen to anyone. Hopefully for Barfield it is not one that caused pain or grief. Whatever the reason, it is between him and his employers.

In fact like any small or major business, when one needs time off, there is usually a plan in place. While INDYCAR has a top-notch staff in race control, they could have moved someone up to the Race Director’s seat. However while Barnhart was still on staff as the Senior Vice President of Operations, and the former Race Director, it made sense to put him in the hot seat.

He knows the series, he knows the staff in race control, the safety team and the rest of the personnel. Plus he knows the drivers and team owners even though he had two public spats with both Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

INDYCAR clearly stated that Barnhart will replace Barfield in race control for the Toronto doubleheader weekend. They also said that Barfield will return for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 4th weekend.

Barnhart was removed from his position by the former INDYCAR CEO. Since then, the series has undergone changes with doubleheaders on temporary circuits like Toronto and Detroit plus new venues for the IndyCar and Indy Lights series'.

Standing start aborted
Standing start aborted

Photo by: Covy Moore

One of the major changes was to occur in Race 1 with a standing start but it did not take place when Josef Newgarden's car stalled on the grid, causing Barnhart to call off the standing start and proceed with a traditional rolling.

The idea of the first-ever standing start for the IndyCar Series is one that they have not given up on. It will happen (they hope) in Race 2. "The fans deserve to see a standing start, so after consultation with the promoter, we have made the decision to implement standing start for Sunday's race," said Barnhart.

At the end of today’s race, Graham Rahal commented about the aborted start: "Unfortunately I saw in my mirror that Newgarden had stalled, and I was thinking 'There goes that.' I was kind of excited about the start; I thought that it would be fun, but then again, I also wasn't all that disappointed. I know the fans will be, but to be honest, IndyCar racing isn't Formula One - it's not about the standing starts.”

Barnhart not only as the race control staff that travels with the series, he also has three race stewards with him in the booth. They are Arie Luyendyk Sr., Bill Van de Sandt and Gary Barnard.

Prior to the start of the weekend, Tony Kanaan said "I think we'll be well-represented, he'd been in that job for many years. I don't know what happened to Beaux, but we're lucky we have somebody to fill in for him and take his place. It's somebody that I trust, as well. It's good."

Dario Franchitti commented, "It will be very interesting to know how they make decisions up there sometimes. I think it involves a dice and blindfold."

Now that statement was not made just because Barnhart is in the driver’s seat, so to speak, or was it?

As it turned out, Franchitti was given a 25-second penalty on the final lap of the first race, and he was on the podium when told that he was not 3rd after all. However it was rectified when the team proved with the data that he did not blocked Will Power.

Now onto the final day at Toronto and perhaps after the weekend is over, INDYCAR will confirm that Barfield will be at Mid-Ohio; which of course will hush the rumors or those who wanted to make a mountain out of a molehill.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Will Power , Brian Barnhart , Josef Newgarden
Article type Commentary
Tags barfield, barnard, barnhart, doubleheader, franchitti, indycar, kannan, luyendyk sr, race director, rahal, standing start, street circuit, toronto, van de sandt