Arie Luyendyk will be one of the key voices in race control during IndyCar events in 2012, after agreeing to join the line-up of officials working alongside newly appointed race director Beaux Barfield.
Former Indy driver Johnny Unser and longtime CART/Champ Car senior manager of competition Gary Barnard have also agreed to act as race stewards for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, beginning with the season opener at St Petersburg on March 25.
Barfield has also announced that the way race control works will be changed, with the race director now set to be the one to make the key decisions single-handedly in future. "The stewards will really take a step back from being so involved in what the race director does," said Barfield.
"There have been several schools of thought over the years whether there should be one person making the decisions or three," he explained. "Should there be a vote? It's my job in a drivers' meeting to communicate exactly what my expectations of the drivers are, so it should be one person. That leaves the stewards to be more in a role of a safety net."
Luyendyk, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1990 and 1997, agreed with this new approach. "We're going to follow Beaux's lead and we'll be another set of eyes looking at the race and trying to keep it safe for everybody," he said.
“I've seen a lot of different Race Directors work in a lot of different settings and I really like the way Beaux works,” added Johnny Unser, a nephew of Al and Bobby Unser and who was the race director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in 2008. "We're there to support him, to watch monitors to watch what's going on from the front of the field to the back of the field. We're there to keep it fair for everybody."
For Barfield, getting his team together in time for the start of the season was one of the most important items on his to-do list once he took over the role of race director from Brian Barnhart at the start of the year. He said he was delighted with the end result.
"Putting together a Race Control team is a big task, and I'm very proud of the team assembled and confident in the collective abilities to officiate effectively.” He added that Luyendyk and Unser will have an additional role outside of race control working with the drivers throughout the season.
"Arie and Johnny bring vast knowledge and experience to driver-related issues, and more importantly as driver coaches to some of the drivers who need help," he said.