Did IRL squander chance? A reader writes, I have waited to write on my thoughts and disappointment on what the IRL introduced as the next generation of IndyCar, both chassis and engine. The failure in the engine selection is obvious, the IRL just limited itself to one engine manufacturer for the foreseeable future and opened the door for any existing or new startup series to take advantage of the no-brainer direction the IndyCar engine program should have gone (GRE). But what gets me is how Barnhart's hands are all over this, and I have long said IndyCar would have no chance of regaining any of the ground it lost until the IRL gets rid of everything that is associated with what destroyed the sport; All ovals (gone), Tony George (gone), current car (soon to be gone), and Brian Barnhart. The latter was retained, and the latter may very well have spelled the doom of this series when IMS acts on their 2013 deadline and folds the series because the IRL brain trust will have failed to give it the spark it needed to actually make it a profitable sport like the days of pre-split CART.
I have no doubt that unless IndyCar did something to jump start intrigue, a spark, it would not gain interest and this fail. To me it was obvious there was only one proposal that had any possibility of doing that as all others were slight modifications of the same basic car design used for the last 4 decades. This new Dallara, while slightly more intriguing than the current car, is still too stale and serves no relevance to the calling of the times. Yes, the individual drivers are what ultimately would build and sustain a larger base, but building such depth of driver recognition and identification takes years. Therefore the platform on which they do it has to be something that the public sees as extraordinary and takes amazing daring, that's what makes them heroes. I mean especially with the changes in automotive and power technologies we have no choice but to embrace, IndyCar could have had a car whose drivers were viewed as a bunch of Chuck Yeagers, men and women pushing this thing we love so much, automobiles, really radical ones, to the ultimate edge.
Only the Delta Wing offered something that could have made IndyCar relevant again and a symbol of the radical cutting edge whose drivers would have easily been seen as heroes, way more than in the current car or the new car, which again, is basically the same type of car used in IndyCar for the last 40 years. But what really seems like another case of Barnhart resisting change may have very likely condemned IndyCars to their death. I would have said in the past that I hope I am wrong, but I have a strong feeling the Delta Wing concept will find a home, and I will once again have a series I can be passionate about. And whatever series gives it a place to take root and grow, I predict they will within a matter of a handful of years, rise to become the premier motorsports series in the world because they took the leap that has long needed to happen both in motorsports as well as the general public as a whole.
IndyCar used to provide that platform from which to push radical development, that is what I feel in love with, and they just squandered to become the leaders of this new frontier of automotive and fuel technology we are just entering into. I have continued paying attention to IndyCar, and while with just a fraction of interest as compared to the Champ Car and before that Real IndyCar days, I held out hope that IndyCar would return to what made it great, drivers driving the edge of technology with both aspects just blowing fans away. Well now I have nothing to keep me interested other than the hope that maybe Ganassi, Andretti, and Penske see the writing on the way and are working with Delta Wing to have an open wheeled series ready in 2013 to take over where the IRL IndyCar failed. Not to suggest a split, rather a plan B because it seems pretty clear at least to me the IRL just signed their death certificate with this car selection. Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI
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