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Overheard at Long Beach - Sunday UPDATE #3 As an add-on to a story we originally broke here on AR1.com in Long Beach - There will be three new engines powering the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR series but everybody might be driving the same-looking car. SPEEDTV.com reports that the car owners are against introducing the bodywork kits until 2013.

“The owners voted Saturday in Brazil that they didn’t want to do the new bodywork kits next year,’’ said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. “INDYCAR’s position is that we want it for our fans and our manufacturers but I guess we can’t make the owners do it.

“I respect the fact they have to spend a lot of money for new cars and engines and we are here for the long term. But I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.’’

Bernard was asked about the reaction from Honda, General Motors and Lotus (John Judd) – the three engine manufacturers.

“I haven’t spoken with Lotus yet but Honda and GM said they would do whatever is needed,’’ he replied. “It will be a significant savings for them next year.’’ Speedtv.com 

04/23/11 Related to our rumor about new body kits below from last Sunday at Long Beach - KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser favors delaying the introduction of new aerodynamic kits until 2013. His reasons are the cost -- $75,000 per kit -- and a desire to introduce something new after next year's equipment rollout.

But Mike Hull, managing director of Ganassi Racing, said owners need to consider that next year's engine manufacturers -- Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus -- will want another way to differentiate themselves.

"We want to engage these manufacturers, and if they want to identify themselves with an aero kit, why should we deny that?" he asked. IndyStar.com

04/17/11 I spoke to Long Beach boss Jim Michaelian after the race on Sunday who said "we had just over 70,000 in attendance today and for the weekend we are at or above 175,000.  It was at least 175,000 but I won't know how much more until I get the final numbers from the box office."

"I just want to say that the crowd was amazing today," said Dario Franchitti.  "On the victory lap it has been a long time since I saw such a vibrant enthusiastic crowd.  It was a massive crowd and it was really nice to see."

04/17/11 After two days of perfect sunshine, Sunday dawned overcast and a bit foggy in Long Beach, which is not unusual for this time of year.  Typically by race time the fog burns off and we go racing.......Tony Cotman told us on Friday that the first prototype 2012 IndyCar will hit the track sometime in August.  What he did not say is which engine would be in the back - Honda, Chevy or Lotus.  It is widely known that Honda is furthest along with their new engine and so one would assume they would be ready to go.  We asked HPD boss Eric Berkman whether Honda would supply the first engine for testing.  He told AutoRacing1.com, "We do not know and have not been asked, but I would welcome the opportunity to power the first 2012 IndyCar and if asked we would take it."...... 

Cotman and IndyCar had a 1.5-hour owners meeting on Saturday and the main topic of conversation was a similar update on the new car and engine that we got on Friday. We did get out of that meeting that each manufacturer has signed a contract to supply up to 40% of the field.  Since teams will get to choose their engine partner, this ensures that no manufacturer would end up supplying the entire grid.......A concern expressed by some of the team owners is the idea of introducing the new body kits in time for the 2012 Indy 500.  The teams are already putting out a lot of money for the new cars, then you have to buy two $75K body kits per car (one for crash damage) and if you are a multi-car team like Penske, Ganassi, or KV Racing you could be looking at close to $1/2 million the first year in addition to the cost of all new cars.  The other issue they have is introducing new bodywork at arguably the most dangerous race (high speed low downforce).  If the new kit turns out wrong it could result in a crash.  The feeling was get through 2012 and then introduce the new body kits in 2012.........We did have a chance to chat with Ganassi Team manager Mike Hull about the meeting and of course he did want to reveal all the details.  He generally felt positive about what he heard.  As far as the job Tony Cotman was doing with the new car, again he had nothing but good things to say.  "Tony has a very difficult job.  We as teams are very competitive, and carnivorous.  We take every advantage we can and Tony is like the Ringmaster of a den of lions trying to keep us all at bay," said Hull.  Hull did go on to say that he loves street circuits.  "It's a very technical race setup and the driver has to understand the different grip levels in the different turns and the grip level changes as the track rubbers in.  And the apex is not the same for every corner."  It is the driver and engineer who understand the nuances of street circuit setups that can be successful.  As for double wide restarts Hull said they are exciting and we just have to trust our drivers to get through unscathed.  "I'm sure at some point we'll get caught out by a restart crash."......

We ran into Procon Leisure's Roscoe Dickinson who is here with the Surfers Miss Indy winner.  He told us they still hold the Miss Indy beauty contest even though IndyCars no longer race in Surfers.  He told us that from what he hears the attendance is down for the V8 Supercars from the Champ Car/IndyCar Surfers Paradise days, around 150,000 over 3 days.  He hopes IndyCar someday returns to the streets on the Australia Gold Coast.......I mentioned on Saturday that there is still some interest in a NY City race.  We learned that other Northeast cities under consideration are Washington DC and Philadelphia should Baltimore not turn out to be successful.

Bumped into Randy Bernard on the grid before the race and I asked him are you done predicting TV ratings?  "Yes, I am done predicting ratings," said Bernard smiling alluding to the 0.6 he hoped for the Barber race and the 0.2 IndyCar ended up with........In speaking to Long Beach GP race owner Kevin Kalkhoven before the race he expressed satisfaction that attendance was up, hospitality was sold out and vendor sales were up.  He said only 200 unsold grandstand seats remained on race morning.......Indy Lights points leader Conor Daly is not going to change his focus for 2012, which is GP3.  He will now step out of the car and focus on GP3.  He won't return to Indy Lights until August, meaning winning the Indy Lights title is out of the question.  Mark C. reporting from Long Beach

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