More than a dozen IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy drivers are competing in the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the IndyCar Series race director also is involved as the race strategist for the NGT Motorsport team in the GTD class.
“It’s a great opportunity to get back on the competitor side," he said. “It’s already made me better in terms of officiating because it’s allowed me, in this environment, to look at the rules from a completely different perspective. That balance of getting back on the competitor side, staying current and relevant will help my officiating."
The 18-race IndyCar Series season commences with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 30. An Open Test is scheduled for March 17-18 at Barber Motorsports Park. Drivers gathered in Indianapolis last week for meetings with Barfield and other INDYCAR officials, during which there was a free flow of input on off-track initiatives and feedback on competition rules.
“The meetings with the drivers were incredibly productive for us as officials and for the drivers to be out of the intense environment of a race weekend," said Barfield, who enters his third season as race director of the IndyCar Series. “It was just great to be able to spend time together to really look at each other’s side in a common environment. I think we’re much closer to being on the same side than we have been in my time there."
Barfield, a former racer who had run Formula Ford 2000 teams “way back in the day" and done some driver coaching, said the inquiry by the NGT Motorsport team “came out of the blue." But as the former American Le Mans Series race director and co-author of the rulebook for that series and the IndyCar Series, he was the team’s choice.
“I told them, ‘You realize I’ve never done this before’ and they said yes but then they asked me back ‘Didn’t you have something to do with some of these fairly complicated rules being written about non-overall class cars being able to get their lap back?’ to which I replied, ‘Yes, I had a lot to do with that,’ to which they said ‘You’re our guy.’ ’’
The Porsche 911 is co-driven by Henrique Cisneros, Kuba Giermaziak, Christina Nielsen and Nicki Thim.
“This is up another level," Barfield said. “For the teams I’ve managed before there weren’t pit stops so when I got into the ALMS it was a new challenge that was beneficial for my current position in INDYCAR. Being able to take the experience of writing all these rules for the American Le Mans Series and INDYCAR and apply them to the competitor side is fantastic." IndyCar.com