Dan Wheldon, and Bryan Herta and Steve Newey, co‑owners of Bryan Herta Autosport, which fielded the car in which Wheldon won the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 last month, have been selected as the testing organization for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series project. The team will undertake IndyCar's comprehensive chassis testing program beginning in August and September, and IndyCar Series teams are slated to receive their first new chassis by Dec. 15.
Q. Bryan, for you, how important is the role that BHA will play in developing the next car?
BRYAN HERTA: I think it's super-important. Everybody's excited about the new car, what it's going to look like, how fast is it going to be, you know, there's going to be different engines going into it. So it's important for us to make sure that the car is fast, reliable, safe, all those things, so by the time it's out on track and the public is seeing it, it is a finished product and something that everybody's going to want to come out and watch racing next year.
Q. Dan, I know you have some extensive time behind the wheel of an IndyCar as a test driver for Honda in the past. What kind of goals do you have for yourself going into an extensive testing program like this?
DAN WHELDON: I think with something as serious as this, it's not about achieving goals for yourself, it's about achieving goals for everybody involved.
It's, for me, a job that I'm going to take very, very seriously. I'm thankful to the IndyCar Series for giving me the opportunity. But there's a lot you have to undertake. We need to make sure that the product the IndyCar Series puts out toward the end of this year, beginning of 2012, is something that primarily the fans get very excited about, but also the teams and drivers.
And, obviously, we want to make sure that the product we put out is incredibly safe. So it's not, I would say, about achieving goals for myself, it's more about achieving everything the manufacturers associated with the program want to achieve.
I think that's why it's very good to have Bryan Herta Autosport involved. We saw the job they were able to do at the Indianapolis 500. It's great that Dallara is involved. They've put together a great car, and the car that we've been using for a long time now has produced incredibly great racing. It's been very close but also from a safety standpoint it's been good. And we've also got the involvement with Honda and Firestone. So everybody involved, I think, has goals to achieve and my job is about helping them achieve them.
Q. Steve, you were involved with the setting up the Firestone test team back in the mid‑1990s when Firestone was talking about coming back to IndyCar racing. What kind of unique challenges do test teams have, especially since your team is not really involved in the competition side on the IndyCar level?
STEVE NEWEY: Well, some of the challenges, you know, are very similar to what a race team faces every race weekend or every test event. And that is conducting the testing in a very practical manner, first of all, and conducting it in such a way that all the various invested parties get what they're looking for in terms of results.
So it's a very tedious process. At times it can be downright boring, frankly, because you're not out there competing and racing against other teams and other drivers. So it's about accumulating miles and confirming the structural integrity of all the components that are highly stressed and it's a very methodical approach, and we've got a great team put together.
I'm looking forward to it – it reminds me a lot of the program we did put together for Firestone back in 1994, and I might add that was a very successful program. And we're taking this very seriously, as Bryan said, and we're looking forward to the challenge in providing each constituent that's involved in the testing program with the conclusion that they're looking for.
Q. It's been a month since your team won the Indianapolis 500. What has that win done for the morale of your team which fields full‑time Firestone Indy‑wide entries, and are there any prospects for racing later in this year or even next year based on that win?
BRYAN HERTA: Yeah, it's been amazing for the team. You know, all of us have just thoroughly enjoyed everything we've been able to be a part of since the 500 and since that win.
We're looking forward to what that means for the future of our organization. It's no secret that we're very happy with Dan, that our goal is to race full season in 2012, that all things being equal we'd love to do that with Dan. So I think we're working in that direction.
I think being part of this test program and the continuity that we bring over from the Indy 500, it's the same group of guys, same driver, same people involved. We can transition seamlessly into the test program. Ideally out of the test program we'll be able to transition into a full season program for next year.
In terms of racing for this year, theoretically right now on the schedule we'd be done in time to get to Vegas for the finale. It's something we've talked about, but our focus is on making sure we do a good job for this test program and really trying to gear up for next season.