Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Owner's Response

The next generation chassis and engine formula has been a topic of much debate over the last couple years, and it's only ramped up in recent months since DeltaWing, Swift, Dallara, BAT, and Lola unveiled their proposals.  But, since the IZOD IndyCar Series announced the ICONIC Committees decision in mid-July, it's gotten a lot more interesting.

Flashback to Noon on July, 14th at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, location of the 'future strategy' announcement.  Packed to it's gills with fans, media, drivers, teams, and league/manufacture representatives, the Toby Theatre at the IMA was also full of anticipation. Once the announcement was finally made, the reactions were all over the board, from overwhelmingly positive to overwhelmingly negative, and everything in between.

One giant piece to the 2012 puzzle are obviously the team owners, and the owners have been very quiet on the situation until more details are released. That was until yesterday, when Speed's Robin Miller published a story on a meeting most of the team owners attended in Sonoma that was devoted to the 2012 decision.

No question that it's not a perfect situation, and additional details need to be unveiled, but at least one team owner is in favor of the new direction the IZOD IndyCar Series is taking, and believes he knows why many of his peers aren't fully supporting the project:
"The majority of them [car owners against the 2012 project] are the ones that were saying all along that the current car needs to be replaced, and were upset when it was pushed from 2011 to 2012. I will have to say that the majority of the owners that are not wanting to get a new car are the ones that invested hundreds of thousands of dollars each into the DeltaWing project. I speculate that this would not have been an issue had the DeltaWing have been selected as the chassis, they would have forced teams to purchase those ugly beasts for quite a bit more than the 2012 Dallara option from the prices I saw. Now that the outcome of the chassis selection did not include the company that those owners invested heavily in, now they want to hold off from purchasing new cars. I think it is guys like these that are doing more harm to the sport than anyone at the Indycar Series, and this type of foolish thinking is exactly why the value of Indycar is not where it needs to be.

Chip [Ganassi], Michael [Andretti] and Roger [Penske] all have the biggest budget of any team (minimum of $8 million per car) and they say they can't afford to spend $600k on new cars in 2012? We all run our teams as a business, and if we know that in 2 years time we will have to make a capital investment of around $600k for new equipment, then we need to manage our businesses such that we can afford to make this investment. $600k would mean having to cut some engineering staff, or mechanics, or not investing in luxury motorcoaches for a season, etc. Let's also remember that the engine lease is expected to go from $935k to about 600k, which means that you have enough savings in the engine lease to roughly purchase one new chassis. This is still a much better climate for chassis than it was in the 80's and 90's when teams were forced to purchase new cars every season, at $250k each. Now, we make a purchase of a chassis and have it for minimum of 3 seasons. Bottom line, teams have to manage their businesses and prepare for a capital expenditure in 2012, they need to make cuts where appropriate to be able to afford new equipment.

I support the Indycar Series and their forward thinking approach to developing a new, fresh, and exciting racing product that we can put on the track. Most importantly, my team needs a good product to go and sell to companies wanting to invest their marketing dollars in my team and the Indycar Series. An old, antiquated, outdated chassis is not going to be exciting for the fans, and thus the sponsors. The Series has an incredible amount of forward momentum in the sports entertainment marketplace, and with many sponsors leaving or greatly reducing their involvement in NASCAR, the Indycar Series is well positioned as a marketing platform with continued growth shown over the past season. A new chassis and look for Indycar will continue to bring excitement and cost effectiveness to the series in the future." - Anonymous team owner


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