Barnhart admits IndyCar swept cheating under the rug
Modeled after NASCAR when it was first created, the Indy Racing League was an all-oval series racing on many NASCAR high-banked ovals, complete with 'pack' racing, crashed machinery and cheating. Yes, cheating, NASCAR-style.
Apparently cheating was rampant until the ex-CART/Champ Car teams came in and would not tolerate it.
A Firestone Indy Lights team owner was shocked last month when IndyCar told competitors of the number of rules infractions in that series in the past three seasons: 57.
The history of the hush traces to the series' earliest days, when small teams lacking sufficient sponsorship comprised the fledgling Indy Racing League. As issues arose, league officials decided it was best to embarrass as few as possible, lest they cost the guilty financial support.
Occasionally, punishment had to be mentioned, but word went out as quietly as possible.
At The Indianapolis Star's request, IndyCar for the first time released news of the infractions of this season, but it did not identity the teams or amount of the fines.
The IndyCar Series has had seven infractions. Five were for equipment that did not meet specifications; the other two were for track-related issues (car under power in the garage area and a driver disregarding a checkered flag). Only one, a brake- related transgression at the Brazil race in April, was deemed to make a competitive difference.
Still, most of it was information previously kept private.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard vowed a change in philosophy, including a revision of the communications process for 2012.
"We're going to be much more transparent, I know that for a fact," he said. "But I don't know what the policy will be or how it will shape up until all of the competition and technical staff draw up a plan. They need to work together on this one."
Bernard said the high number of Indy Lights infractions stems from not having a proper inspection crew, which should improve with the hiring of Will Phillips as the sanctioning body's vice president of technology.
Brian Barnhart, president of IndyCar's competition department and long a proponent of publicly protecting teams, was reluctant to comment on the lack of communication of penalties, insisting the new policy starts with Bernard.
"I don't see the need to try and compare what we did then with what we do in the future," he said. "It's a different world out there: unification vs. the split, depth of the field, number of cars. There's a number of reasons why things were done the way they were done." In part from Indy Star