IndyCar – RM’s Article, Chicken Little, and Open Rebellion

Wednesday evening, Speed’s Robin Miller released an article hinting strongly that the team owners were on the verge of outright and open rebellion against the 2012 car. I read the article and had to pause to think about the veracity of the claims made within the article, or at the very least the commitment of the team owners mentioned to stick to their stated convictions. Here’s the meat of the allegations as told by Eric Bachelart.

“The league decided to do a new car and never consulted the teams and we’re all wondering how we’re going to be able to pay for new equipment given the current economy and value of the series,” said Eric Bachelart of Conquest Racing.

“We asked Tony (Cotman) what our investment would be for a new car and he wasn’t able to tell us so we’re all a little bit uncomfortable.”

Another owner, who requested anonymity, was more blunt.

“This isn’t a revolt and we aren’t going to start another series, it’s plain and simple, we don’t have the money to buy new cars. Roger (Penske) and Chip (Ganassi) are saying the same thing. But the IndyCar series signed a deal with Dallara to spend our money without us signing off on it and we’re the guys writing the checks.

“What are they going to do if nobody buys it?”

Read the rest of Robin Miller’s article at

Reading the rest of Mr. Miller’s article, you’re lead to believe that all of the drivers with the exceptions of Foyt and De Ferran outright rejected the entire proposed 2012 chassis/engine package and that there’s a real chance of the 2012 season simply not happening due to the lack of teams being willing to purchase new equipment. Personally, this comes off as being akin to Chicken Little declaring that the sky is falling. It seems like a knee-jerk reaction designed to create a sensationalistic fervor meant only to promote readership. I can buy that teams may be anxious about purchasing new equipment, but if you think clearly about the situation for a moment, you’ll realize that the cost-savings on the engine lease alone will be enough to purchase a new chassis outright. Then you can factor in the reduced cost of replacement parts and the reduction of the inventory a team has to stock owing to the fact that the IndyCar Safety Cell has one configuration for both the road courses and oval tracks. There will no longer be a need to purchase and stock multiple suspension components, driveshafts of various diameters, and other sundary parts and pieces that the teams have now. I think what we’re really seeing here isn’t a genuine threat of outright rebellion, but a group of savvy team owners playing to Mr. Miller’s propensity for sensationalistic journalism in efforts to gain a bit of leverage with the league. In the end, this is really just a non-story and I’m not buying that there’s any genuine risk of teams not seeing the 2012 season open without the major teams and more ready to race. The economics just don’t support the gloomy scenario painted by Mr. Miller.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m full of crap and Mr. Miller has the right of it? Let’s debate it in the comment section below.

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6 Thoughts to “IndyCar – RM’s Article, Chicken Little, and Open Rebellion

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  2. Agree! Wholeheartedly.

    While Robin does have numerous sources spanning back through the decades that he has been covering open wheel, I think he is intentionally blowing this way out of proportion. They hire editorial columnists for newspapers to drum up readership. Take Kravitz in the Indianapolis Star for example. He was hired from out of state to come in and start writing articles that got the ire of the local population…. which hopefully would sell more papers. Apparently, they are happy with the results since he still has his job after several years.

    There is general dissatisfaction among the team owners because:
    -the economy is down
    -they are having trouble selling sponsorship
    -they are struggling to get by anyway
    -the IRL is talking about restructuring the TEAM program
    -no real details have been announced other than a general framework
    -no real costs have been announced other than projected costs from Dallara and Honda
    -2012 is really dang close to have all these unanswered questions
    -the new package was supposed to be announced at Thanksgiving last year

    I like Randy’s response though. Tough cookies boys. This has been on the books for a long time. The IZOD IndyCar Series cant stay stagnant.

    I think this opposition will dissapear as the technical rules are written and the true costs become apparent. Some of the smaller teams may still complain that they are still having trouble getting by, but I think they will complain even if they give them the cars for free.

    In the end, the IRL is targeting a price point that would allow you to get an engine lease and a new chassis for the same price you currently pay for an engine lease. They are further targeting a 50% reduction in operating costs per chassis. Yeah, you can probably go cheaper with a delta wing style concept, but then you don’t have an engine manufacturer.

    The IndyCar series had to take a long view with this chassis/engine package. There had to be room for the growth of the series. By going to Goodwill to get a car, they would have been hammering nails in their own coffin in a sad self affirmation that they would never grow past their current state…..

  3. Alan Turner


    Maybe I’m missing something but I’ve never heard that with the Delta there is no engine mfg. Interviews with Bowlby indicated at least as much “interest” from mfgs. as have developed so far with the Dallara announcement.

    I think RM maybe be pushing it some but the complaint I’m hearing is that there are allot of unanswered questions despite statements about targeted goals (such as a 50% reduction in operating costs) there are have been zero explanations as to how that will be obtained.

    I certainly believe that it’s time for a change but even in F1 they consult the mfgs before setting regulations. NASCAR is the only exception where by the governing body openly dictates with a “to hell with you. you’ll do as we say or you won’t race” attitude. The team owners may not be part owners or franchisees ala CART but they damn sure are equity partners in this series and I think that they have the right to have some input. deFeran not withstanding.

  4. Alan,

    Yeah, the owners are uncomfortable about the unanswered questions, and so am I. Until Cottman writes the rules, Dallara and Honda cannot provide accurate pricing information. Until that pricing information is fully available, the teams are stuck with IndyCar’s high hopes for low costs, which is not sufficient to set budgets and plan sponsorships. We also have to wait until the rules are written before any additional engine manufacturer would even consider throwing their hat in the ring.

    Regardless of how the IRL tried to spin this situation, this all came together at the last minute and I still wouldn’t be surprised if they had to punt the chassis to 2013.

    I think Ben Bowlby spoke in glowing terms about ‘interest’ from manufacturers, but Honda had voiced lots of displeasure with the Delta Wing engine package. They didn’t come out and say that they wouldn’t make an engine for it, but there seemed to be an implied threat there.

  5. Honda’s threat to not participate with the Delta Wing package was a bit stronger than merely implied. Honda had flat out stated that they were going to develop a stressed turbo V6. Regardless how you spin it, that platform just wasn’t ever going to fit into the DW plan. That was one of the points I had clarified during the Downforce Crew Breakfast on Bump Day. The whole Delta Wing thing was DOA, pure and simple.

    Again, I maintain that this whole situation is merely a political gambit by the teams to try and leverage additional cost restrictions into the 2012 regulations while they’re still fluid. There’s no genuine threat of open rebellion.

  6. racing girl wannabee

    It’s gossip until I hear it from team owners myself.

    It would be good to delay to 2013, just to pad some testing time for teams. Let em drive and test, let crew have a go at ’em and make the new IndyCar and the old, Indy Lights. they should each get a week with a demo model, no obligation.

    Make your choice after driving it, new top tier or stay where you are at lesser purses. Makes IL more competitive, for sure!

    While there might only be the big teams buying initially, Dallara might bring other sponsors to the table to help everyone out. small teams can watch what happens and get their own program going as they get backing. join later in the season or next.

    I don’t quite understand how Lights is sanctioned, so don’t know how that would work (if at all).

    just my two cents.

    “still crazy after all these years”

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