Team owners are worried about the costs associated with the $75,000 2012 aero kit. (IndyCar.com)
There will be three new engines powering the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR series but everybody might be driving the same-looking car.
SPEED can report that the car owners are against introducing the bodywork kits until 2013.
“The owners voted Saturday in Brazil that they didn’t want to do the new bodywork kits next year,’’ said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. “INDYCAR’s position is that we want it for our fans and our manufacturers but I guess we can’t make the owners do it.
“I respect the fact they have to spend a lot of money for new cars and engines and we are here for the long term. But I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.’’
Bernard was asked about the reaction from Honda, General Motors and Lotus (John Judd) – the three engine manufacturers.
“I haven’t spoken with Lotus yet but Honda and GM said they would do whatever is needed,’’ he replied. “It will be a significant savings for them next year.’’
The plan was for Dallara to build the tub with its own bodywork/aero kit and the three engine manufacturers would also design personal aero kits that had to be sold for $75,000. Now it sounds like the owners just want to all run the Dallara with whatever engine package they obtain.
Bernard said the vote was 15-0 (A.J. Foyt abstained) and Roger Penske claimed it was not a power play on his part but it sounds like the two top teams in the series have a serious difference of opinion.
“I heard people are saying it’s Penske and Chevrolet thing but there were 15 people in that room who all voted the same way,’’ said Penske, who was responsible for bringing GM.
But Mike Hull of Target/Ganassi Racing said he made an impassioned plea to the group.
“I told them I think we’re making a big mistake here,’’ said Hull, the general manager for Ganassi. “I want bodywork kits. I don’t care what it takes because I’m tired of racing spec cars.
We have an opportunity for innovation with this new car.
“If Chevrolet doesn’t want to spend the money on it, then that’s fine but the opportunity should be there if Honda or Lotus wants to do it.’’
Honda’s Erik Berkman said the news the owners don’t want to have some different looking cars is “disappointing.’’
“We haven’t announced anything yet but we were planning on an aero kit,’’ said Berkman, the head of Honda Performance Development. “We wanted to be up and running by the Indianapolis 500 in 2012 and I know Roger Penske feels like there’s too much risk for launching a car at Indy.
“But that doesn’t hold water with me. You could have one dominant engine just as easily.’’
It remains to be seen what is going to happen.
“This isn’t CART, this isn’t an owner’s organization, we don’t make the rules, the sanctioning body makes the rules,’’ said Hull. “The owners should sit in a room and listen to Randy and Tony (Cotman) and get ready for whatever they decide.’’
Bernard said he hasn’t made up his mind yet.
“I’ll listen to our owners but I want more feedback. I’m not voting yea or nay until I talk to more people and think this through.’’
Robin Miller brings 40 years of experience to his role as SPEED.com's senior open-wheel reporter, and serves as a frequent contributor to SPEED Center and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.