As the next step in its search for the new IZOD IndyCar Series car, the Indy Racing League has announced plans to develop an advisory committee representing key fields of the open-wheel racing industry to review research and recommend a future chassis and engine platform.
The advisory board will include a league representative, a team owner, an engine expert, a marketer/promoter and a racing engineer. The project will be named the ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) IZOD IndyCar Series Advisory Committee.
"The Indy Racing League always has taken pride in its role in automotive innovation," said Randy Bernard, CEO of the Indy Racing League. "The search for a new chassis and engine has been about enhancing innovation in our sport and renewing the IZOD IndyCar Series as the automotive industry's proving ground.
"As the league moves closer to making a decision regarding our new chassis and engine platform, we need to continue to have an articulate process in place that sets the criterion in a timely manner while taking into consideration the core areas of car development in our sport: competition, marketing, engineering, engine development and team ownership.
"Terry Angstadt and Brian Barnhart have done an outstanding job researching and developing the future car for the past two years. Now we would like for the members of the advisory committee to review the research and make a collective recommendation, utilizing their respective industry sector's point of view.
"Equally important in this process are the drivers and fans. The advisory committee will be encouraged to reach out to the drivers for their feedback and opinions about the engine and chassis. Additionally, we are currently conducting surveys to receive fan input on the new chassis and will look for similar ways to incorporate their voice into the committee's research in the future."
The committee will be chaired by retired Air Force Gen. William R. Looney III and report its findings to Bernard, who will make the final decision on the series' new chassis and engine.
The four-star general was Commander of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and responsible for the recruiting, training and education of Air Force personnel. His command included the Air Force Recruiting Service, two numbered air forces and Air University. Air Education and Training Command consists of 13 bases, more than 92,000 active duty, reserve, guard, civilians and contractors, and 1,750 trainer, fighter and mobility aircraft. The general has commanded a flight, a fighter squadron, two fighter wings, an air expeditionary force, a military college, a warfare center, a numbered air force and two acquisition centers.
"Gen. Looney represents many of the characteristics that are important to this process and his Air Force background provides familiarity with speed, safety, technology and integrity," Bernard said. "We are grateful to have someone with his vast experience serve as chairman, and I'm confident that he will set the appropriate procedures to oversee the advisory committee and facilitate a recommendation in a timely manner. Having an industry outsider chair should prevent any bias toward any certain industry sector when overseeing the advisory committee."
Full appointments to the advisory committee will be announced next week. Each IZOD IndyCar Series full-time Leader's Circle entry will receive one vote to elect a team owner to the advisory committee, while the other experts will be selected by Bernard. A recommendation from the committee should come in less than 90 days.
The Indy Racing League is currently in discussion with five chassis constructors regarding its future car. BAT Engineering, Dallara, DeltaWing Racing Cars, Lola and Swift Engineering have submitted proposed chassis designs and supporting information to the league, ranging from evolutionary to radical.
"Our objectives for the chassis remain the same as they were when the league first began the process of developing its next car: safe, raceable, cost-effective, American-made, less mass/more efficient, relevant technology, modern look and green," said Bernard.
Honda is currently the sole engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series. In 2008 and 2009, the league held a series of automotive round tables with OEMs and race engine builders to receive input about the future engine with the goal of developing a platform that is relevant to the current and future automotive industry.
Bernard added: "Honda has been great partner as the series' sole engine supplier since 2006. We look forward to continuing to work with Honda to provide reliable and quality engines for the IZOD IndyCar Series. And just like Honda, we want a relevant engine platform that is strategically aligned with major automotive manufacturers' existing and future programs and initiatives so we can maintain and expand our position in race-bred technology."