The old adage that states: “When all else fails, reboot” applies to IndyCar’s impending announcement this morning that Beaux Barfield will become the new Race Director for the beleaguered series. A new car is still making it’s way through the development stages in order for it to be a solid base to race with, more road courses dominate the 2012 schedule than do ovals and now the series finally has put in place someone who knows what focus really means.
Many fans out there don’t know Beaux Barfield. Barfield has competed in FF2000, has driven in several lower Formulas, most recently was the race director for the American LeMans Series for six years and served as race director for Champ Car’s Formula Atlantic Series-a fact that should make Vicki O’Conner proud having birthed many drivers and owners from her series. I’m sure she’s quite pleased right now.
The 2011 IndyCar season had the potential to have a reasonable ending but that wasn’t to be, the tragic death of Dan Wheldon negated any celebration of a season well done. The 2012 season has to be the “reboot” in the process of recovering a dwindling fan base that had become disillusioned with the IndyCar product. The changes that seem to be in place give the series a chance to do just that, revive itself, recapture a fan base longing for competition and do so with professionalism and venues that are fan friendly.
No one can dispute the level of competition that has risen in IndyCar. The field is now full of capable, fast and well-rounded drivers. The question will be will the fans take notice and tune in. They will if word gets out that there is a real open wheel series in the United States that courts the Western hemisphere and welcomes all of it’s fans to an event, not just a race.
Barfield’s addition is one of the final pieces of the puzzle. Focused race control with a team leader who has repeatedly shown that he actually can run a team of officials who show dedication to their craft. Let’s face it, if you can successfully run a multi-class series like ALMS and not get lynched, you’re pretty damned good.
The new Dallara may not be the perfect car, that’s a debate for another time, but it certainly seems to be farther along out of the box than NASCAR’s COT. That took years to come close to getting it right. No matter, I have faith that they ultimately will get the DW-12 where it needs to be. That’s what competition does for a business, it improves the product.
The rulebook? No doubt Barfield and his team, along with Randy Bernard, will pour over every page until they have a product that won’t be heavy handed but at the same time will have clarity for the competitors. Consumers don’t like uncertainty and racing fans are most certainly consumers.
Congratulations Mr. Barfield.