The IndyCar Season doesn’t start until later this month at St. Petersburg, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been series news.
The best news of the offseason is Rubens Barrichello signing to drive a full IndyCar season with KV Racing. Rubens’ signing isn’t quite on the same level as Nigel Mansell’s back in the 90’s but it it still a needed shot in the arm for the series. While oval-centric fans may not be excited, road racing and mixed-course fans will be. It will undoubtedly bring more international interest to the series. Rubens should easily take to the road and street courses as preseason testing has shown but I’m very interested in seeing if he adapts to ovals as well as Mansell did in his CART seasons.
Another welcome development is the impr9ovement of the new DW12 chassis on oval tracks. While there hasn’t been as widespread testing on the ovals as there has been on the road courses it appears that the rear-swept A-arms have shifted the cars center of gravity improving handling on ovals.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing finally have an engine deal. I’m not sure what all transpired there and likely we won’t ever know, but it’s good to see them have a full package now. SFHR is a popular team and they have a rookie driver with great potential; it would have been a shame for them not to take the green flag at St. Petersburg later this month. The whole process has been a black eye on IndyCar, though. It is both indicative of a lack of planning and vendor oversight on their part and a PR failure for letting the story run away with little to no word from the series throughout the debacle.
Which brings us to Lotus… I’m afraid that the Lotus teams are going to be behind the eight ball this season. Lotus has been behind from the start and their teams aren’t getting anywhere near the testing and practice with the new equipment that the Chevy and Honda teams are. Lotus’ lack of preparation and inability to meet hold up their responsibilities has been disappointing to say the least.
Finally, Eddie Gossage from Texas Motor Speedway had this to say today:
I’m really disappointed and don’t know why IndyCar drivers feel the need to constantly damage the sport. You know, engineers have told us over and over that the current fence design is the best that technology provides us today. But if you were a sponsor, if you were a fan, if you were a TV network – why would you get involved with IndyCar racing if they can’t tell you today where they’re going to race tomorrow? And the drivers – the spokespersons for the sport – are tearing it down? So, it’s absolutely irresponsible of those drivers, and they deserve – because of the way they conduct themselves sometimes – they deserve where they stand now in the food chain of motorsports.
Just as IndyCar drivers walk a fine line between campaigning for safety and making IndyCar look bad, Gossage walks a fine line in defending his facility and ignoring driver safety. In this instance, I think he crossed the line into ignoring driver safety. Let’s face it, Gossage isn’t the one that will be hitting the fence at Texas without a roof. We need to remember that Jackie Stewart faced similar criticisms in the 60’s and 70’s when he campaigned for improved safety. He was ridiculed by many within and from outside motor racing but it turns out that the was right. It’s quite possible that in this case the IndyCar drivers that have leveled criticisms of the fence are right.