League acts as info clearinghouse for prospective teams
Kevin Blanch answers his office phone with a pleasant but perfunctory "IndyCar Series clearinghouse." The series' technical director fielded dozens of phone calls from prospective teams before the open-wheel racing unification announcement Feb. 22, and the number has grown exponentially since.
"The (Champ Car World Series teams) have a lot of questions such as how do we set up their pit lane, what's available on pit lane?" said Blanch, who can empathize as a former team manager with Panther Racing. "A lot of things that are new to us – using the paddle shift system – are also new to them because they haven't been in the loop or involved in the conversation. They have a lot of general questions and we are trying to provide clarification."
Rulebooks and technical bulletins have been distributed, and sanctioning Indy Racing League personnel and IndyCar Series teams have offered assistance. Each new team will be paired with an existing IndyCar Series team for help with baseline setup, gearing and other technical details for oval races.
There are 66 Dallara chassis in circulation, with six ordered from the factory in Italy. Conquest Racing, which announced a two-car team Feb. 25, already is preparing its cars.
"Can I fit my bodywork? Can I put Bondo on my wing? They're also looking how to make engine stands and quick-lifts, so we're getting them in contact with other IndyCar Series teams that have been gracious to let them borrow items and let them look at things at the shop," Blanch said. "They've seen our races, understand what we do and they want to make sure they blend right in and go on. They want to speed up their learning curve. We can help them to save them a lot of time."
Blanch also is the clearinghouse for about 25 spec parts sold by the sanctioning body to keep costs low, guarantee quality and equality.
"Teams don't have to worry about making them, finding them, the quality," Blanch said. "They know they are going to get the same part the next guy coming in will get. It's a non-issue. Those are 25 things they don't have to mess with."
Verbal assistance will continue at the racetrack, where the IndyCar Series has scheduled March 19-20 (Sebring International Raceway road course) and March 24-25 (Homestead-Miami Speedway oval) Open Tests for transition teams that will be using the Dallara/Honda/Firestone package. The GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 season opener is March 29 under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway followed by the April 6 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"Not only is it in my best interest as the guy who has to inspect (the cars) when we have to start racing, it's also in the team's best interest because we don't want to lead them astray," Blanch said.
"We'll advise them, 'Hey, you might want to spend 20 minutes to fix that instead of wasting three hours on the racetrack.' We want to make this as smooth and pleasurable as possible for everybody.
"I think the (technical inspection) process will be even better with more knowledge from other teams of how far we can take this because we have a group that have run with a different type of tech system and can bring that information here and help me and my guys get better. Ganassi, AGR and Penske helped me build half the equipment I have when they came over because they understand we want it right, we want to be able to repeat it and we want it the same on every car. They are more than willing to jump in and help. I'm more than happy to listen." IndyCar.com