[INDYCAR press release]
INDYCAR President of Competition and Race Director Beaux Barfield has welcomed two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, former Indy car competitor Johnny Unser, and longtime CART/Champ Car senior manager of competition Gary Barnard as race stewards for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Barfield said most Race Control personnel relating to operations roles in 2011 will return, with the functions of the stewards to be altered.
“It takes a group of eight or nine people to do specific jobs, whether that’s communicating with corner workers or dispatching the safety team,” Barfield said. “All are necessary to provide a good officiating system. The stewards will really take a step back from being so involved in what the Race Director does.
“There have been several schools of thought over the years whether there should be one person making the decisions or three. 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, 58, was the CART and Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1985 with Bettenhausen and a three-time pole sitter at the Speedway. He also won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Luyendyk has coached IZOD IndyCar Series drivers the past few seasons and will be the mentor this season. Unser, who competed with Luyendyk on the racetrack and has officiated alongside Barnard, will assist.
“I wished I would have had that kind of help at Indy in ’85,” Luyendyk said. “I had to find my way around, and the only advice I ever got was from Mario Andretti who said ‘Watch out for this place because it can bite you in a hurry.’ We don’t have to really coach those guys on how to drive. We have to coach them on how to go about dealing with certain situations and keeping calm. It’s more mental coaching than driving coaching. 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.”
Unser, 53, a nephew of Al and Bobby Unser, was the Race Director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in 2008. He made five starts in CART in 1993 and 1994 with Dale Coyne Racing and competed in 15 INDYCAR events. He’s a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter (most recently in 2000).
Barnard, who has held various duties in Race Control for more than 15 years, was a race steward alongside Chief Stewards Wally Dallenbach, Tony Cotman and Chris Kneifel in CART/Champ Car. He also worked in Race Control with Barfield in Champ Car.
“A steward is kind of an overseer of an event who understands a driver, the product, the officiating, and has a broader sense of everything that goes into making a great event,” added Barfield, a former Indy car driver. “By being a safety net to me, it leaves us in a better place moving forward. It also leaves someone in that role to serve as a driver coach.
“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. 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.”