Q: And this may be something, also, that goes into Randy's area, but I heard earlier the pretty resounding invitation: 'Come on Ford, GM, Ferrari, even Boeing and Lockheed.' My question, have you had undercurrent or background conversations with these companies to indicate a willingness to do what all of us and all of our experience, what is one of the most expensive parts of motor racing design, which is aero, to make this commitment and then to come up with something that I understand that they will sell for an $85,000 cap. Have you had background conversations that indicate that will you will get a lot of RSVP from that invitation, or, does this amount to one of the great leaps of faith in motor racing?
BRIAN BARNHART: Well, we have had some initial conversations, as well, and interestingly, I think there's a lot of common ground in the aerospace industry, which is a natural challenge.
When Tony Purnell referenced that in his speaking points, it's kind of a natural to challenge that industry to get involved. With regards to the automotive manufacturers, we have had some preliminary dialogues and it has been exceptionally well received.
It's almost one more asset that had not been available in many years, if ever, in open-wheel racing that is actually encouraging their participation, because now it's not just about an auto manufacturer providing an engine for an IndyCar. They have got the ability to brand the car, and showcase their aerodynamic capabilities, as well.
So the preliminary conversations and indications we have had with the auto manufacturers have been very well received and Randy can probably address that more.Q: So you are inviting the body and engine then?
Absolutely, yes. RANDY BERNARD:
Just to reiterate what Brian said, with the auto manufacturers that we have discussed this with have said that it's very exciting that they can create brand identity with their cars.
But we haven't been able to talk to everyone, because we wanted to keep as much confidential as possible, so we were very selective on our first round and I believe Brian and I and Tony and Gil were all planning on a trip to Europe at the end of August to start talking to some of the engine manufacturers in Europe. Q: Looking at this new car from a strictly commercial standpoint, in an attempt to address your TV issue, and also to provide additional value for sponsor identification, do you envision the dimensions on the bodywork of this car to be significantly longer than the current package so as to make the cars more easily identifiable for the TV audience, especially on ovals, and also to provide just more space for sponsor commercial ID?
RANDY BERNARD: It's a great question and probably a better one for Tony or Brian. I did ask that question, when we were going through the process – how much more space will there be on the cars for sponsorship. I think that, you know, some of the areas that I don't think anybody right now can tell you that there's going to be a tremendous amount more space on these cars. It's going to depend on the aero kits that are designed. But I think that you can see how a fin could be created that had more sponsorship elements to it. That would be primarily my answer. Tony or Brian might have a better answer than that.
BRIAN BARNHART: I would certainly agree with Randy. It's certainly been part of our RFP and goal to improve and maximize sponsor exposure and what we are doing. We have a challenge with our cars running 230 mile an hour, and as small as they are, it is difficult to get that sponsor signage where we want it, so it's something that's at the top of our list so there's a lot of components that went into this deal.
So certainly going to be part of the package when we as a safety body sit down and draw up the rule book for 2012, we want to leave those windows and those boxes open as much as possible. Yet at the same time, we do want to define them enough so that we get an increase in square inches to improve sponsor visibility.
Q: Randy, [Indiana] Governor [Mitch] Daniels made reference to grants and tax credits from the State of Indiana in order to facilitate Dallara bringing its facility to Speedway. Can you put a total dollar value on the State of Indiana's commitment in terms of these grants and tax credits?
RANDY BERNARD: We started visiting with the governor and his office about two months ago, and Jeff [Belskus] was involved in those preliminary meetings, as well. The governor wanted to make sure that we would ensure that the next manufacturer would locate here in Indiana.
What we did is we had as a mandate in our request for a proposal, we felt that it was great to bring jobs and manufacturers over here from Italy, but we wanted to take it one step further, on how could we retain the different team owner shops here and how could we promote a way to bring more here. We want to make this, again, and renowned for the racing capital for the world.
I think that we addressed that in what the governor presented today; that there will be basically $150,000 per car, per team owner, if you are located here in Indiana. So hopefully it's going to bring some new business, and if you add that up on 28 cars, it should be close to 4.3 million, so that's basically what that part of that grant is. Q: Is there a ceiling on the amount of funding from the State of Indiana?
RANDY BERNARD: From the State of Indiana, I believe it's at $5 million, but you might want to get that from the Governor's Office. Q: Are manufacturers going to be allowed to make changes to basically tweak their aero package during the middle of the season, or does it all have to be done up front at the beginning of the season? And also, are you at all concerned that after two years, it will become apparent that one design is better than the other designs and it will become the dominant design in the series.
With the number of updates that you can have, we are imagining that you come up with your update package and you go with that through an approval procedure and you live with that for one season.
I think your second question is very pertinent. If somebody emerges with a better package, is that it, and does the whole grid just buy it? I would like to think not, because I worked in aerodynamic development on racecars for 15, 20 years, and it is utterly remarkable how year on year, the aero guys find more and more advantage; and every year you sit there saying, 'Guys, they have been at this, they have maxed out,' but they never do. At 225 miles an hour, even tiny advantages translate to big gains in track performance.
So I think that the challenge is there for people to take advantage of, and there's no way that people can't be beaten, year on year, a good team with good facilities will be able to out perform whatever is out there. Q: Obviously with the current state of the economy, every company is learning for a return on their investment. Do you feel there is enough benefit in the series as it stands now to entice all of these potential manufacturers to create the aero kits to make them believe that being involved in IndyCar racing and the Indy 500 that they will be able to get a solid profit out of creating these kits to justify their investment in the series?
I think this is a great starting point. I think now we have to go and visit with them and convince them that we want partners. If they are selling cars and we can help them sell cars, that has to be one of our priorities, as well, and we have to be able to listen to them and understand what they need from a relevance standpoint. The fact that we went from up to a V6 turbo where an inline four was allowed, I think is important. We heard from a lot of especially European auto manufacturers, an that inline pole is very important.
We also have to keep this in check in relativity to the fact that we are under a timeline and I'm not sure how many different manufacturers will be able to produce an engine by 2012. But the offer, it's out there right now, and we are sure optimistic and welcome anyone that wants to participate.