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Barnhart out of race control in 2012

Brian Barnhart will no longer be in charge of race control for IndyCar events in 2012, following a year of growing controversy and dissatisfaction with race officiating.
Brian Barnhart will no longer be in charge of race control for IndyCar in 2012, after a series of organisation changes were announced by chief executive officer Randy Bernard.

Barnhart will step down as Race Director for next season, but will remain with the series as President of Operations overseeing the operational and logistical areas. The official statement from IndyCar said that the two roles were being split "because of increasing demands on the Competition and Operation division."

Barnhart himself explained: "As our sport continues to grow and we prepare for our first new car in almost a decade, we feel that splitting these roles will help fully service our teams and venues as we prepare for the demands of 2012 season."

The President of Operations will be responsible for officials, technical specifications, safety development and implementation, medical and event logistics, while the Race Director will henceforth be able to concentrate on overseeing all on-track activity and stewarding decisions during a race weekend as the senior official in race control.

The change follows a season of ongoing controversies involving race control, which began at the start of the season with driver unhappiness with the introduction of double-file restarts in the series.

That was followed by rows over allegedly inconsistent officiating culminating with events at the crash-filled Toronto road race, accusations of preferential treatment toward the Ganassi team and toward Dario Franchitti in particular, and then the starting of the Baltimore street race with safety vehicles still on track.

The last straw for many was the events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where even Barnhart admitted that his call to attempt a late restart on the oval despite continuing rain had been a dreadful mistake. Will Power's two-handed expression of displeasure with race control made headlines around the world and became one of the iconic pictures of the 2011 season, to IndyCar's discomfort.

With a growing sense that many teams and drivers were no longer willing to accept Barnhart's jurisdiction over races, it seemed that a showdown between teams and the organisers was becoming inevitable unless Barnhart stepped or was moved aside, as has now happened.

It's still to be determined who will be taking over the post of Race Director for the new season, with IndyCar saying that they are still reviewing suitable candidates to fill the post. One obvious candidate, Tony Cotman - who was in the equivalent post for Champ Cars and who has been part of the IndyCar race control team in 2011 - is thought to be wanting to lessen his involvement with the series once his role in charge of implementing the new 2012 Dallara DW12 chassis is concluded, in order to focus on his own race track design business.

Related Pictures

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IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
Randy Bernard at the announcement of the IndyCar Challenge. [Photo Credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia wait out the rain, talking with race director Brian Barnhart.
Brian Barnhart, the Race Director for the IZOD IndyCar Series. [Photo: IndyCar Media]
Brian Barnhart, president of IndyCar competition and senior race official. [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Scott Dixon Indy 500
Scott Dixon [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon Indy 500 qualifying
JR Hildebrand, IndyCar, Ed Carpenter Racing
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)

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Mike McInerney

December 01, 2011 5:05 AM
Last Edited 2030 days ago

Give the job to AJ Foyt - he knew all about all the tricks and scenarios that occurred in Indy and CART days. And he wasn't beyond sorting out anyone behind the Steward's Box if the occasion arose!!!!!! Mike

Maxx - Unregistered

December 02, 2011 6:02 PM

Why not Johnny Rutherford? He is a respected former driver. He has been the pace car driver for years, so he is in touch with today's racing, and drivers. He seems to still have a great passion for Indy Car racing.

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