Derrick Walker: Switch to IndyCars very expensive
After four long weeks, we can finally say the deal is done. Walker Racing wanted to take this opportunity to update the fans again with what we know and where we go from here. Thankfully, the wait is finally over and we can start moving on. Certainly a lot of time has gone by and we can see what damage the split has caused. However, common sense has prevailed and we are off and running.
Now the merger is done. It's day one of the rest of our lives. What are we doing and what is needed to complete the transition for the teams?
One of the major hurdles for the teams is going to be getting access to all of the parts necessary to turn up and compete at a level similar to what they were doing in Champ Car. There is a lot to learn about the new car, which will be a separate learning curve and a separate hurdle. In the next six weeks the teams have to get cars, kits and all the parts necessary to run the cars, build them and test for at least four to six days, which will be a luxury if they manage it for the first event.
This process will consume a lot of manpower and money, because the ramp up to that end goal of being at the first race is going to be on a vastly accelerated pace. As a result, we are going to be doing things much quicker in a shorter period of time, which will cost us more money. Plus, acquiring the physical components that are going to be needed, not to mention the spare parts, the wings, the noses, wheels, etc., the car is just the tip of the iceberg.
Probably the most difficult factor for the teams will be acquainting themselves to an IRL car. There is a lot to be done in a short span of time and, because of the time frame, it will be an expensive six weeks for the teams to endure.
Having said that, it's probably the cart before the horse when looking at what needs to be done. Once it's known what the series is doing and everyone has gotten over the merger announcement, it needs to be determined if the sponsors are still interested.
One might wonder what the plans are for the team and what does it mean for Walker Racing?
If you take Walker Racing specifically, since the last race in 2007, we have gone from a two car program in Champ Car to maybe a two car program in the IndyCar Series. A lot of time has been lost in being able to move forward and secure a two car program. One car is the first step. I think the Champ Car teams are going to be somewhat surprised when they see the cost of the Indy Car and this will be an ongoing concern as the season unfolds.
For example, in Champ Car you can't do wind tunnel testing. In the IndyCar Series you can. There are areas on the car that teams will have to go back and regenerate their wind tunnel programs and go into the wind tunnel as soon as possible and get the valuable data on the car, which will ramp up the costs. I think for the teams that don't have unlimited resources, it's going to be a problem until we can raise the sponsorship level up higher to compete on an even level with the IndyCar Series counterpart.
These are all differences and transitional ramp up elements, which is specifically team related. As we have seen in the Champ Car situation, it is possible to reduce the cost and not affect the show. For the 2007 season, there were more competitive entries and more challenges for race wins than there probably was in the last three years prior. Stabilizing the formula, bringing the costs down, and containing development would really be a request, if nothing else, to the league for 2010.
Everything is looking very positive for us. We continue working on sponsorship, because the IndyCar Series is quite a bit more expensive than Champ Car. It is still our intention to keep going with the gold and green.
All of the employees and drivers (Will Power and Simon Pagenaud) have been extremely patient with the process. It's hard to imagine saying to an athlete who's racing or playing for a championship to put their careers on hold for several months while the sport decides if it's going to be playing at Wimbledon or not. It's hard to imagine the effect on a driver to be put on hold like this, but Will has been very supportive of the team and has been standing by for this important announcement to be made so that he can get into the car and go racing.
We would like to continue to thank the fans for your continued support. We will keep you posted on this new journey and what this means for open wheel racing and Walker Racing.