AVONDALE, Ariz. – After introducing its new three-member steward system to officiate its races during the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Hulman and Company CEO Mark Miles – the ultimate authority of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – discussed the new system and how it will help improve the officiating throughout the season.
Brian Barnhart continues in his role as race director but is not in charge of any of the officiating of the race. According to Miles, he is the “producer of the race” controlling the pits, safety cars and the pace cars “but not officiating in the sense of deciding when there’s an infraction, and if there is an infraction what the penalties would be,” Miles explained.
The men in charge of determining infractions are the three stewards – two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, former CART, IndyCar and NASCAR driver Max Papis and former Ford Vice President of North American Special Vehicle Operations Dan Davis.
“The decisions about when there are infractions, and when there are infractions what the penalties are, rest solely with the three stewards,” Miles said. “We thought it was really important, first of all, to get the maximum amount of continuity. We want consistency in our decision-making. I think our competitors deserve that. Fans deserve that. That’s as high a priority as there is, along with independence and fairness, which we know we can count on.
“So with that in mind, it was really important to us that we found three very experienced, enthusiastic stewards who will be the stewards for every race. I mean, maybe there’s an illness or something, but I think everybody’s expectation is same three stewards all the way through from start to finish for the Verizon IndyCar Series this year. I think that has not been the case in the past, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Miles wants to improve consistency and transparency to the decisions that are made in Race Control. He credits INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye with the three men chosen for the new role.
Davis was named chief steward of the trio.
“With Dan Davis as chief steward, we have somebody who has been so important to the sport in various series for so long,” Miles said. “His role, like Max called earlier today, is like team manager. As chief steward, he is a steward. He will, along with the other two guys, participate one vote each on any decision that’s being made about an infraction or a penalty.
“He also has all the administrative responsibility to organize the group, to have them practice and improve, and really be the administrative leader of the team, which we think is very important.
What does that mean besides making sure everybody is at the race on time? One of the things they’re committed to doing which I’m so excited about is, after every race, they will meet by video conference. They’ll look at every call they made and everything that could have been a call they didn’t make collectively, and they’ll talk. They’ll look at and review whether they think they made the right decisions, because sometimes they may not.
“We think this is so important. It’s part of a process of continuous improvement. As the three of them do every race, and after every race they kind of go back and do the postmortem, I think it’s very important.”
INDYCAR plans to simplify some of its rules and regulations. Instead of issuing warnings, penalties will now be called on more than half of the current rules and regulations. According to Miles this will simplify the officiating process.
“The drivers came to us and said, “What’s a warning?” Miles explained. “It’s an opportunity for inconsistency. So let’s just get rid of it where we can and where it makes sense. More than half of the rules will no longer start with that. I think that’s a good move.
“In the past, the drivers didn’t receive this table. It was top secret up in Race Control. How would they know if we were being consistent, if we followed our own plan? Of course, this year the stewards will have it and they’ll be expert in it with the drivers and the team personnel, and the public and media can have this table. The people can hold us accountable as to whether we’re all following how we view how it all ought to work, and we will.