Many in IRL paddock think chassis deal was 'fixed'
Before opening up the bid to other IndyCar chassis manufacturers IRL Competition Director Brian Barnhart was quoted as saying Dallara would be doing the next generation IndyCar. We here at AR1.com hammered him hard on that - why on earth would he sole-source the contract to Dallara? How was that going to get the best price without open competition? Then Delta Wing came forward with their innovative proposal and Barnhart was forced to open it up to others. However, most figured he would still find a way to give the contract to Dallara and this past weekend most in the paddock we talked to assumed that Barnhart had made a strong case for Dallara and pushed it through. Was the ICONIC formed just to make it look good so that when Dallara was chosen it would not look like an inside deal? Regardless, in the end Barnhart got what he wanted all along, but at least the open competition forced the price lower.
A few quotes:
"For whatever reason, Dallara are the blue-eyed boys." IndyCar's rumored $200,000 license or registration fee for aero kit builders might dissuade Lola from entering the game. "If that's true they're sending us another message. That's tilting the table where they don't want competition." Martin Birrane, Lola
"All five of us were within $5,000 on the price of our chassis," he observed. "We came in at $385,000, Dallara is at $384,000 and Lola, Swift and BAT were in the same ballpark." Dan Partel, Delta Wing
Our June 4th presentation covered 195 pages including a plan to build a 40,000-50,000 square foot facility in the town of Speedway, right across the road from the track," Lola's Steve Charsley recounted. "Our idea was to employ twelve to fifteen people fulltime and use the cottage industry of the shops in Indy to build pieces and components. For example, we would have used maybe Mark Scott to build the wishbones and Jackie Howerton to build the exhausts. And with a four or five-year agreement these people would have been able to rebuild their businesses. We were prepared to build a big factory with the simulators and fan experience showplace that Dallara are talking about. In our presentation we committed to a $6 million simulator plus the cafe and destination place for fans to bring the fans in and be close to the Speedway. Our presentation proposed that we do that right there in Speedway, Indiana, no different to Dallara."
"It survived all those many decades through the 20th century with just a rule book," he observed. "Here's the rules guys they said. Come on and build your cars. People want to see quality. That's what's always driven the sport. But now, we seem to be going Kmart and Wal-Mart racing instead of Bloomingdale's.
"From day one, racing has always been expensive. It was always for the wealthy people. The wealthy survived and the poor got used up and tossed out because it isn't a poor man's sport. Today, you look at a baseball player signing a $50 million contract, or a basketball player signing an $80 million contract. But we're talking about the state of Indiana giving $5 million to Dallara and rebates on car sales to Indiana teams. So again, are we now going after the Wal-Mart customers rather than the Bloomingdale shoppers? I guess we are." Steve Charsley, Lola
"I think Swift certainly put forth a great proposal. I think from a dollar standpoint we were more competitive than the numbers I've seen so far and it would have been produced in the United States using Indy labor. As you know, we had a strategy to employ the composite facility in Indianapolis as well as suppliers that have over two hundred employees. So I think, to some extent at least, we had checked the made-in-Indianapolis box. But maybe this deal was done before the RFP process began." Jan Refsdal, Swift
"I'm looking forward to seeing what the rules are. I was not a part of putting together the committee and they were not allowed to talk to us. I assume they did what they were told to do and we'll go race with that. But I haven't seen any rules yet. You have to have a rulebook first. When there is something tangible, I'll be happy to opine more about it." Chip Ganassi
"Thanks to IndyCar's Manufacturer Roundtable meetings the next generation of IndyCar will push the technical boundaries both on and off the track. Working tightly together with multiple engine manufacturers and the League has been and is invaluable to Dallara to design the exciting new chassis for IndyCar." Andrea Toso, Dallara head of research and development stated this back on Feb 9, 2009 so at that point he knew Dallara would do the next generation IndyCar.