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Barnhart out of race control in 2012

30 November 2011

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.

Another candidate would have been Al Unser Jr., who served as the driver representative in race control this year, but he was suspended from his role in October after being arrested for drink-driving offences.

Other possible candidates suggested for the post include former CART driver Scott Pruett, American Le Mans Series chief steward Beaux Barfield, and former CART team owner Steve Horne. However, no one is exactly rushing forward to claim the hot potato post just yet.

Also announced on Wednesday was the departure of Terry Angstadt, who has resigned as Commercial Division President. Angstadt had been in the post since 2007 and was instrumental in developing the key commercial partnership with series title sponsor IZOD. Along with Barnhart, Angstadt was the last IndyCar executive dating back to Tony George's time in charge of the series.

"Terry has been an integral member of the IndyCar executive team [and] instrumental in orchestrating successful inaugural events Baltimore and Brazil," current CEO Randy Bernard said. "We wish Terry the best of luck as he moves on to the next chapter in his career. He will be missed by the entire IndyCar team."

Angstadt will be succeeded by Marc Koretzky, who joined IndyCar from NFL in May as Director of Corporate Business Development, and who co-ordinated the unprecedented program of publicity events leading up to the IZOD World Championship series finale in Las Vegas in October. Koretzky will oversee sales, business planning and development, marketing, public relations and organizational operation.

"I'm confident that Brian and Marc will lead our company into a bigger and brighter future in these new roles," added Randy Bernard.


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