We're through the thrash of Indy and five races in as many weekends. This stretch has been tough on everyone, and now we're glad to get a chance for a little bit of rest.
I think our guys are holding up pretty well. We're all hoping for 2013, that the schedule can be more respectful of the amount of effort it takes by the crews to do these races – this isn't NASCAR where you have multiple cars and crews. The same group of guys does everything. I had a mechanic from another team come and thank me when I stood up at an owner's meeting and brought this point up at Texas.
And also, you have to take into account there were tests in between the races (at Milwaukee and Iowa) so that only compounds the problem!
For our guys, this is not their first rodeo. Everybody might get tired and what have you, but that's part of the game. You always just go and do the best job you can, take care of yourself and wait for the first weekend off.
From a results standpoint, it's been frustrating to be sure. We've been very competitive at virtually every race and of course almost pulled off a win at Indy but we've also had too many incidents that have taken us out of the running and that as I said can be very frustrating. We also have had two races in a row with grid penalties due to unscheduled engine changes and that doesn't help either! To me, that's not really the team's fault and is I believe a misplaced penalty.
In any event it's a weekend off and that is truly appreciated!
ALMS comes back next week after its break with our BMW program. So I'll be at Lime Rock for that race and then fly to Toronto Saturday night for usual duties on Sunday. At Edmonton I won't be able to do that, I'll only be at the IndyCar race, and not at Mosport. But luckily that's the last conflict – especially now with China being off the schedule and me being at Elkhart Lake to begin with.
The BMW team is so mature as an organization, it's where I don't want to say it runs by itself, but it comes pretty close. We have such good people who know what to do. We've had some good tests of late, with good improvements for our car. It's not that we've been just sitting around, twiddling our thumbs since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It will be good to get back in the saddle with the car. We won at Lime Rock last year, and hope to do it again.
As far as Road America goes, to be honest, I think it was smart it wasn't added for IndyCar. Don't get me wrong, I badger Randy to put Elkhart on the schedule because I believe it is the greatest road racing circuit in North America.
The last thing you want to do is add something and it looks bad. It was bad enough China didn't happen, and these are things that do happen, although not that often. Everyone at IndyCar must have learned their lesson on that one. Holding a race internationally is no mean feat – especially when it's a street course
But, it would have been worse to go to a race just to make 16 and have it be done poorly. I think it's the right decision; it's a tough decision to make, so I applaud them for that. We just need to make darn sure the races that are on the schedule are ones we can count on.
It's been said the 2013 schedule could come in early September. Having had the chance to put together a schedule as interim CEO of CART (LEFT, LAT archive), I can tell you it is a thankless task. You have to balance the goals of the sanctioning body with that of TV, the circuit owners, and generally speaking, you can never satisfy everybody. It's so painful. I had a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out how to put a schedule together. You'll never make everybody happy. It's tough. If he can get it done by September 1, that's fantastic, because that gives everybody something to sell when it comes time to reach out for sponsorship.
Still, all of a sudden, we have six IndyCar races left. Goal one is to finish, and goal two is figure out where we'll finish.
There's no question Takuma's a good racer and a great, competitive guy. Last week in Iowa the car wasn't that good, but he kept the car under control and finished the race. It was a position that nobody wanted, so I give him kudos for just getting it home and worrying about the next race. We didn't get the chance to test at Iowa – we were supposed to, but when we crashed at Texas, that took care of it. It's not an easy place; Andretti did well, the rest of us didn't. It's a tough place to master.
Going back to Toronto after a long break, well, I love racing in Canada, period. The Canadians are very knowledgeable, they get it, and they're big road racing fans. I've been a fan from day one since I did most of my early racing in Canada. Coming back my first year in Toronto in ‘86, the reception was great. I'm a little sad Toronto is only for one day, but it's always a great race, great crowd, and great ambiance.
I don't know the full details yet about push-to-pass coming back, but I think it's a great feature to have. It's like DRS in Formula 1, although not quite that powerful. It adds another element that makes it interesting to talk about from media or spectator standpoints. In 2007 when Champ Car had it, the rear taillight would flash when it was turned on. So the crowd could tell when they're on it. It should be a nice added element to the race.
Until next time…all my best.
Bobby Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing competes with Takuma Sato in the No. 15 Dallara-Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series and with two BMW M3s in the American Le Mans Series. To learn more about the team, go to www.rahal.com. Rahal is also on Twitter at @BobRahal.