As the IZOD IndyCar Series transitions to their version of the Car of Tomorrow for the 2012 season, many of the same concerns that arose in NASCAR have arisen in the IRL, namely the cost factor.
Dallara was selected as the sole supplier of chassis tubs, but any manufacturer that could gain IndyCar approval could make aero kits for the chassis tubs. That, some believed, would drive the cost of good aero kits up substantially, as only Team Penski, Target Chip Ganassi and Andretti Autosport would have the financial means to develop state of the art kits.
And while the revelation of the new car was met with fanfare -- manufactured or not -- many in the Series were concerned because while there was a box (in the form of the car) there weren't rules as to what could go in the box.
However, in a move that looks to be met with a lot of approval in open wheel circles, Robin Miller of SPEEDTV.com is reporting that IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard has hired Tony Cotman to supervise the implementation of the new car.
SPEED.com can report that IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has hired Cotman to write the rules, dictate policy and ride herd on the price of components like he did as the straw boss at Champ Car.
“I’m happy Tony has accepted this job, he’s well respected and a bright guy who has the experience of delivering a new car,” said Bernard.
“His priorities and mine are the same and that is to come up with the best competitive car for 2012.
“He’ll be the new car project leader and start immediately.”
Cotman, who served as chief steward and competition director at Champ Car from 2005-2008 before taking a job with IndyCar in 2008, was the mid-wife of the 2007 Panoz DP01 chassis.
He made it cheaper and told Panoz what it could charge for parts and intends to do the same thing with Dallara.
“My job is rules, prices and anything to do with the new car,” said Cotman, who resigned his full-time job at IndyCar last year but continues to be chief steward of Indy Lights as well as new track consultant.
“If I don’t like it, I’m going to fix it with the league’s support and I need to start talking to the teams because they need to be part of what is going on.”
Let's face it, the new car is either going to make or break the IndyCar Series, and being proactive to reign in sunk and future costs in the new car is a huge step towards the former. While everyone's favorite driver is struggling in her transition to stock cars, there's a distinct possiblity she'll be out of the IndyCar Series by the time the new car makes its debut.
And unless you can bear the terrible coverage by Versus on a week-to-week basis of the Series, odds are that the casual fan can't name half the field, let alone make terrible jokes about Bertrand Baguette. (He's a crusty fellow)
Right now, it seems doubtful that open-wheel racing can ever make a return to the top motorsport in the country. But at the same time, there was a time that no one could have ever imagined that stock car racing would be the undisputed king. To ever have hopes of getting back to that point, the IndyCar Series has to survive in the short term, and anything that can help keep costs down is a step in the right direction.