DM: Looking further ahead to maybe 2014 or '15 – would you envisage there being another manufacturer joining?
RB: I wouldn't rule out anything. We're always trying.
DM: There have been hopes expressed – not founded on much, I suppose, just hope – that Fiat-Chrysler would want to get involved on the back of Fiat and, longer term, Alfa Romeo, re-entering the U.S. road car market. Obviously, you'd welcome that but do you see it as a possibility?
RB: I've met with Sergio Marchionne and Harold Wester and I wouldn't say it's a top priority in their racing program right now but, again, I'll never give up.
DM: Have you found that now that three manufacturers are in, it's harder to persuade a new manufacturer in because three rivals have gotten a head start, or is it easier because they see a good thing going on – the package is working, it's getting publicity, etc.?
RB: That's the exact question we need to ask ourselves this coming September, because if we do our jobs and grow our sport and potential new OEMs can see a significant amount of value to being part of the series, I think that will tip the scale toward them wanting to join us.
DM: In the fallout following Dan Wheldon's death, what extra precautions have been taken regarding the cars and the tracks?
RB: We had a meeting with the drivers a couple weeks after Vegas, and we asked them about their concerns. So we've instilled a new track inspection policy with the promoters and IndyCar as well as with the drivers. We've met with engineers and discussed what we can do short-term and long-term with our current formula on the 1.5-mile banked ovals. We created a new track-condition radio built into the new cars, so Race Control and officials, individual entrants or the entire field can communicate track conditions, warnings or other information. The yellow light will be in a consistent place in all cars. We've brought in Instant Messaging. We're evaluating the driver qualification credentials and we're evaluating whether we need to bring in a spotter's qualification. We've also had our track safety team meet with some of the drivers to help them understand what we're trying to do, so they're more knowledgeable about them. And we're creating a single head-surround mounting that is consistent – in the past there have been seven or eight.
DM: Obviously, the running on ovals has been one of the reasons Rubens Barrichello may not enter the series. Do you consider it a priority to get him on the grid this year?
RB: I think Rubens would bring a huge amount of credibility to our branch of the sport. Some have asked, “What if he wins?” and I think that's fine, because I've heard other drivers say how great it would be to have him in the series. Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia, and so on – they're licking their chops to have Rubens in the series because it will show the quality of their driving, too. They know he's good, they know he can win, but they know they're good and they're going to win, too.
DM: But would you be prepared to massage certain deals to make sure that Barrichello does have the funding to join IndyCar?
RB: I think the job of a sanctioning body is to be there to help. If Rubens needed me to go and meet with his sponsors and educate them about IndyCar, I'd be on a plane to Brazil tomorrow. But I have to be very careful. We're paying out $39m this year – a significant amount of prize money in my book. We have to maintain that IndyCar stands on its own, so though I'd do anything I can to help him, I certainly can't guarantee any type of contribution.
DM: You've taken a very hard line on ovals – if they're not economically viable, they won't be on the schedule. What's going to work for Milwaukee this year that didn't work last year?
RB: There are no guarantees. But Michael Andretti and John Lopes will be great promoters and I believe a 12:30pm start time on Saturday is good. There's been a lot of press about Milwaukee and I think a lot of people understand that if they want it, it's going to have to be a successful event. The most important thing we must remember about Milwaukee is that it's such an ingrained part of IndyCar's legacy, and if we walked away from it again, it could be mothballed or become non-existent. I don't want to see that happen. We have to protect our heritage and give it every opportunity to succeed.
DM: Will you be doing special ticketing packages so that, for instance, if you buy a ticket for the Indy 500, you'll also get a ticket – or a discount – for Milwaukee?
RB: That's a Michael Andretti/John Lopes question. They have shared their ideas on how to promote it, and some of the ideas are very good. I'll stand behind them.
DM: What's the situation regarding Baltimore? Will that definitely be going ahead, as suggested by our story on RACER.com?
RB: Yes it will.
DM: And can it be made financially viable? It was such a huge success as an event last year, it would be terrible to lose it…
RB: Agreed. It still has tremendous potential. I walked around that event a lot last year and the fans were having a great time, and that type of event is part of the future of our sport. We want IndyCar to attract, create and feature the most versatile drivers in the world, so, as well as ovals, we need road courses and also street races. And we need to keep the best of all those, and keep that appeal to a broad demographic.