Some thoughts on a few Indycar news items:
Holmatro Safety Team- 5 More Years
Indycar and the Holmatro Safety Team have agreed to a 5 year renewal of their partnership. I can’t imagine a race being run without them at the ready to clean up a crash site and tend to the driver. The Holmatro is the best in racing at what they do. I have gotten to know a few of the crew. Great guys. Indycar has developed many long term partnerships, and this is one of the most essential.
Continental Tires has expressed interest in being Indycar’s tire supplier after its contract with IMSA expires at the end of this season. I don’t know what makes them think there is any chance of that happening. Firestone produces a reliable safe tire that the drivers and owners depend on. In 20101 when Firestone nearly left the series, Continental was considered by Randy Bernard. The drivers were strongly against a new supplier, and the series forged a new deal with Firestone.
Continental had several tire issues at the Rolex 24 in January this year. Wayne Taylor Racing, where Ryan Hunter-Reay drove, had seven left rear tires fail. The multiple failures caused the car to retire from excessive bodywork damage. Continental disputed that it was the tire’s fault. Firestone has admitted when its tires were not compatible for the track and worked to fix the problem.
I have seen some comments on social media about how great a tire war would be. There is no place for a tire war in Indycar. It could lead to failures at high speed that will result in serious injuries. I’m all for engine competition and even chassis competition, but let’s stick one tire that we know is safe and reliable.
Like a spring bulb, this story can be counted on to return almost every year. Cosworth has an Indycar ready engine and they are eager to get it in a car. The problem is a manufacturer needs to agree to badge the engine, which means funding the development project. Indycar rules require engines to have a manufacturer badge. This is at least the third time I have seen this story. We know they want to join. Let’s wait until they can announce a partner before we hear this story again. Then it will be news.
I will be thrilled when a third OEM joins the series. The advantages are many. We could see increased car counts all season and a guarantee of at least 36 cars at Indy. It seems there is more interest on a larger scale this year and not enough equipment.
Scott Dixon thinks having a spec aero package favors Honda overall in the series. Chevrolet had a distinct advantage on the high downforce circuits the last three years, but they still won their share of low downforce races. Will Power has won the last two Pocono races, one of the tracks where Honda had a distinct edge.
While Chevy has not qualified well at Indianapolis in the manufacturer aerokit period, on Carb Day and race day they were very fast and competitive.
I think we’ll still see a Chevy team near the front most of the season, although Honda should take a few more poles this year.
I think Indycar is close to reaching a broadcast agreement for 2019 and beyond. I know many people, including me, hope for a single network, especially an exclusive deal with NBC. I have no idea what the package will look like, but I imagine there might be some digital component as well.
It appears it will be an exclusive partner and will be one of the two currently airing the series. With the budget cutting ABC/ESPN has been doing and their lack of commitment to improving the product, I hope they are not chosen.. Replacing Cheever and Goodyear in the booth would have shown that they had some interest in making their coverage better. NBCSN always produces a much better race broadcast with a better team in the booth and great pit reporting. The opportunity to get more races on a main network throughout the season would be an advantage.
I wonder if Indycar learned anything from NBC’s was negotiations with Formua l , where F1 wanted a digital stream to compete with NBC’s own digital network. As a result, the great NBC broadcasts are no more, and F1 will be on ESPN as a feed from SkySports.
I like the approach Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing takes toward getting sponsors. Rather than finding one sponsor for the entire season, they have found multiple sponsors for certain races. The team seems quite adept at doing business this way. Other smaller teams might want to adapt this method. You’re not hitting one company with a huge price tag.
Some of Rahal’s sponsors so far for 2018 and the races they will be primary sponsor for:
Total- Long Beach
United Rentals- Indianapolis 500, GP of Indy, St. Pete, Detroit
Luther Automotive Group- Iowa
Fleet Cost & Care- Texas
One Cure- Phoenix, Portland
David Malsher at Motorsport reported yesterday that Indycar is looking to add 100-150 horsepower in the next generation engine, which could be in the series as early as 2020. Frye is getting input from Honda and Chevy and also from potential new OEMs to create a formula with the add boost. I will be thrilled if this happens. I have felt all along that more power is what would help make the cars more difficult to drive and eliminate the lack of lifting in the corners. With this year’s new aero package and more power, the cars may become closer to the beasts of the 90’s.
I will be back next week with a two part season preview including my always inaccurate St. Pete and season champion picks.