IndyCar Competition Department opens new dialogue with drivers

The IndyCar Series has plenty of work to do as it looks to rebuild its fan base and improve its product, and under a new plan hatched by president of competition Derrick Walker, its drivers have been asked to help with the process.

Walker held a closed-door conference on Tuesday that included 28 drivers – the majority of the current grid and a few drivers held in high esteem – to work through a collaborative process aimed at enhancing the series from the inside out.

“We had a drivers' meeting that started at 8 a.m. in the morning, worked through lunch and went until 4 o'clock in the afternoon," Walker told RACER. “Everyone stayed engaged in the issues, and maybe I'm naive, but I think that's the way IndyCar starts clawing its way back. Working with our drivers – our most visible and marketable asset – to improve what we do, to solicit their input on how we do things…it only makes sense if you ask me."

According to Walker, the all-day meeting focused mostly on the competition side of the sport. With this new bridge between the series and drivers, it's easy to imagine the collaborative effort getting to a point where it extends beyond rules and the racetrack.

“I don't know if we've always valued our drivers' input, and with the message we shared with them, it was a case of, ‘Give us a second chance, please work with us to make our series better because in the end, we're all in this boat together,' and I think it was well received," he said. “It was a special day. There was no blowhard stuff, no BS, and we got down to honest discussions with each other. In terms of what we discussed, a lot of it was about our plans for the new season, about last year and then we went through some scenarios to get their views.

“We asked what they thought of situations and how they'd like to see it officiated, or whether the rule in place at the moment is right or needs modifying. We walked through our departments, who does what, and really tried to open up the organization to them so they know how we do what we do. This was just a first step. We have a lot to digest now and will be coming back for more with them. The moral of the story is building communication isn't something you do in just one meeting; it's ongoing and builds over time." More at Racer.com

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