Overheard in Detroit - Sunday
Rumor has it that Audi is still attending the IndyCar engine meetings so apparently there is still interest there. There are trying to make a decision between IndyCar and the new United Sports Car Racing Series. Given they have never raced in Open Wheel we suspect they will stick with sports cars, but who knows, they could do Audi in one series and VW or Porsche in another. With today's announcement that IndyCar is looking for a new engine around 2019 we wonder if they will delay coming into the series until then.
Staying on the engine topic. The teams put a new engine in the cars before Indy 500 qualifying and then another engine in on Carb Day. So each car currently has two engines under the 2,000 mile limit. So until both engines are mileaged out, the teams may not get an engine refresh to almost Mid-Ohio. It is at these refresh points that engine manufacturers can introduce new engine parts (limited) to enhance performance.
Word is that the first race of the Dual in Detroit yesterday drew an estimated crowd of 30,000. Today's crowd looks to be about 40,000.
Derrick Walker told us that they will not allow the designer of one body kit copy a competitors without good reason. Only if one has too big an advantage. "Once you've made 'em, you own 'em, they're yours. The league always looks at the competition and looks for inequalities in the rules. There's no guarantee every manufacturer, every team, engine is going to come out and be even. Some of it is very challenging from a league perspective, to be able to manage that, get that balance, 'cause there's nobody wants to see half the teams be totally disenfranchised because they have an aero package that can go wrong.
"We'd step in and would be trying to offer some help to allow that manufacturer to make some additional changes to try to rectify if he has a big problem. That's not going to be day one. We're going to take a long time to look at it. We know how you can play that game. We're not going to be sucked into changing the rules every time somebody says it doesn't work."
As for Price Caps, yes he said they will set a maximum cost but not after talking to the manufacturers and what would be a reasonable number.
We asked Mark Miles if he was happy with the Indy 500 TV numbers. "The better word is dumbfounded said Miles. Some markets were up 50% and some down 50%. We are looking now to see if that was weather in those markets - i.e. bad weather would put more people in the house and hence in front of the TV.
We quizzed Bobby Rahal, Dale Coyne, Michael Andretti, Mike Hull, Ed Carpenter, Roger Penske, and Bryan Herta what they thought about the new long-range competition plan. Although all had a slightly different comment with regard to the details of the plan or how it would be implemented they all were very much in support of Derrick Walker as a leader and were happy to have a long-range plan in place, the first in a very long time.
Michael Andretti said that he "likes that we now have a plan out there that we can work towards. Is it a perfect plan? No, but depending on how the series progresses commercially we can tweak the plan. If it is on an upswing and money is coming into the series, we can afford to do more."
Bryan Herta added, "now that we have a plan the teams can plan and budget for it. We promised the fans we were going to do this."
Mike Hull said, "now we have something (a plan) to go to our constituents with."
Jimmy Vasser said, "we need to move the series forward and we appreciate that they are asking us team owners for their input."
Bobby Rahal perhaps had the best answer. "Us team owners have proven we are incapable of running a race series, so we should let those in charge do what they feel they have to do to make it successful."
Mark C. reporting from Belle Isle