“Aero kits have been a tremendous source of controversy among some IndyCar team owners who object to the additional cost of the cars and how it affects their budget. While some team owners may find flaws with the current plan, several IndyCar team officials were impressed that “at least now there is a plan.”
“Believe it or not, up until yesterday, the manufacturers didn’t know anything what we were going to propose,” Walker said. “We did a meeting yesterday. They were the first partners with IndyCar that actually had a chance to see this. Up until then it was Will and I and Mark Miles, standing at the back of the room, were the only people who knew what IndyCar was going to do.
“There were a few more boards that addressed cost from our standpoint in our presentation. We didn’t think it was right to bring it out here because it wasn’t relevant to this meeting. Met with the drivers, gave them the same sort of presentation. We met with the manufacturers. We’re here with you today. We tried to get to everybody as soon as we could because we wanted that feedback.
“So far there are suggestions on how we should think about this, think about that. I haven’t had anybody come up and say, no way. I’ve only seen one owner that wanted to go out there and get his name in a paper and say other ways should be better, which is his right. In that meeting, it was constructive. I think we got general support, at least right now.”
While Honda and Chevrolet will be the first to create aero kits, there question then becomes how much different will each look?
“They will look different to start with but after that ‘Like monkey see, monkey do,’ whatever has the best package, they’re going to migrate that way,” Walker said. “Because of the restrictions they have in the rules, how many panels, it may lead them all to a similar place. It may. But they’re going to spend a lot of time trying to be different, trying to be better. We may get some surprises there. I think we will for the introduction of these aero kits. When you look at what we have to do, how we do it, this is one of the easier ones in terms of beginning the process to change our cars and our specifications. I think it’s one of the more cost-effective ways to do it.”
Walker began his position this past Monday and is already well into a plan to help bring innovation back to IndyCar racing. But he also realizes that even the return of innovation won’t mean that television ratings will increase dramatically and fans will return in droves to race venues.
“We didn’t get here overnight – we evolved here,” Walker said. “Where we go from here will also be a process of evolution. If we’re going to go to a completely different place ultimately, we’ll take time to do that.
“I don’t care who comes in and takes this job and has the challenge of moving the sport one way or another, it’s always going to take a lot of time. It always comes down to resources and time.
“The fans want to see some differentiation. As much as I would like to turn the clock back, I’m not so sure back to the future is the best way to do that. I think we need to keep stability, keep rubbing on it. So this is a very conservative step, for sure. This is not earth shattering. But there is some newness in it. It’s going to look a little different. It’s going to introduce an aero race with the two manufacturers, which they want. It’s going to give some differentiation for the teams and their cars, and the fans hopefully will recognize that.
“It’s not the magic bullet that’s going to fix IndyCar. I just don’t think you can see that realistically happen in that sort of time. You have to think further out. If you want to get adventurous around 2019, 2021, possibly. We have a plan here moving in that direction. We’re working on what is the next step, all part of an evolution.”