IndyCar got a substantial economic
boost with the announcement that
its years-long efforts to stage a race
in China had finally borne fruit.
The first IZOD IndyCar Series race
in China will run Aug. 19 on a
3.87-mile street circuit in Qingdao, a
Yellow Sea coastal city of 8. 7 million
between Beijing and Shanghai that
played host to the 2008 Summer
Olympics sailing competitions.
“As the world global economy
continues to grow and evolve, China,
the world’s second-largest economy,
has become a top priority with most
American businesses and the
sponsors that are committed to
IndyCar,” said IndyCar CEO Randy
Bernard. “Last year, at our
sponsorship summit, China was the
No. 1 place our sponsors wanted to
go outside of the United States.”
The new Chinese race will be the
series’ lone stop in Asia, as the
long-running event in Motegi, Japan,
has been discontinued.
WHAT’S RED AND
GREEN ALL OVER
IndyCar confirms China
race plans for 2012
“LETTING PREJUDICE AFFECT
ASSESSMENT OF MARCO’S
DRIVING IS JUST ASININE”
Last month on RACER.com,
Justin Wilson was assessing his
Top 10 IndyCar drivers of the
season. While discussing Marco
Andretti, a clearly impressed
Wilson said, “I respect his talent,
I really do…. In my opinion,
everything’s there; it’s just a bit
jumbled up, and only the driver
himself can un-jumble it. And I
think that’s what we’re now
seeing Marco do.”
Wilson is as fair-minded as
anyone you’ll find in the IZOD
IndyCar Series paddock, so his
opinion holds real weight.
Unfortunately for Andretti, the
mouthpieces of the paddock –
the media – have tended to be
less balanced. Slamming him for
being nothing like his gracious
and expansive grandfather,
Mario, and more like his very
reserved father, Michael, is one
thing. Letting this personal
prejudice a;ect one’s assessment
of Marco’s driving is asinine.
This month we try to explain the
guy, both in and out of the
cockpit, as he approaches the
100th IndyCar race of his career.
As a rookie IndyCar driver in
2006, Andretti relied heavily on
his senior teammates when it
came to setting up a car – and
that’s in a one-make formula.
Perfecting a car’s handling in
Formula 1 is a whole di;erent
level of complexity, as Mark
Hughes explains this month.
This story is a real eye-opener in
terms of how much car setup is
performed back at an F1 team’s
base, before the cars even reach
the track. The window of
variables within which a driver
can operate on race weekend has
been narrowed considerably
through the years.
Of course, sometimes a car is
just not in the ballpark in terms
of competitiveness, and whether
that lasts for a session, a race
weekend or a whole season can
govern how a driver is perceived
both within the team and from
the outside. That’s what
prompted us to ask Tom Jensen
to explain why Denny Hamlin
slipped o; the NASCAR radar for
most of the 2011 season.
CONNECT WITH US!
FRESH HANDS ON THE TILLER IndyCar takes Brian Barnhart out of Race Control The controversial reign of Brian Barnhart as IndyCar chief steward is over. The series reshuffled its management in November, with Barnhart being removed from his directorship role in Race Control while Terry Angstadt was dismissed from his place at the helm of IndyCar’s commercial affairs. Barnhart, who was heavily criticized for his decisions last season, will remain as president of operations, overseeing the operational and logistical areas, but will be removed from on-track decisions. The series is reviewing candidates to fill the position of race director, although American Le Mans Series race director Beaux Barfield and Grand-Am champion (and former IndyCar driver) Scott Pruett are believed to be leading contenders. Angstadt, meanwhile, has left the company altogether — ironically only a few weeks after successfully concluding his long-sought China race deal. He has been replaced by Marc Koretzky, who joined IndyCar from the NFL last year.
Barnhart will have a less direct
involvement with IndyCar’s drivers and
decision making at the races from now on.