The IndyCar Series has selected Beaux Barfield as its new director for racing, and during his introductory news conference Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he made clear he was planning on taking a hard line.
Barfield, whose deal is for just one year, intends to call blocking, impose more consistent
penalties and create better lines of communication between teams
and drivers. It's part of
an elaborate package Barfield intends to roll out this season after
he finishes rewriting the rulebook.
"Obviously, the attraction for me coming into this, is taking
something that requires some fixing and some change, and to be able
to come in with the ability to write rules and really start from
the ground up," Barfield said.
He replaces Brian Barnhart, who lost race control responsibilities last month.
Barfield, 40, is a former open-wheel racer and spent the past four years as race director of ALMS sports car series and was the race steward for the now-defunct Champ Car Series from 2003 to 2007. He then moved to the Formula Atlantic Series for two seasons and then ALMS.
"That's something we haven't really had for a while, someone that's been behind the wheel," said Graham Rahal, who drives for
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard had been searching for a new race director since relieving Barnhart of his duties after a dramatic 2011 season.
Barnhart was under fire most of the season after a handful of decisions cost him the respect of the drivers. In two very public incidents, Will Power was caught on live television making an obscene gesture toward the race control tower at New Hampshire, and Helio Castroneves called Barnhart a "circus clown" in a Twitter rant.
Power was furious when Barnhart decided to resume racing at New Hampshire despite driver protests that it was raining too hard. The slick conditions caused a crash on the restart that collected Power, who infamously flashed his two middle fingers toward Barnhart.
Barnhart admitted his error after the race -- "You're just kind of sick to your stomach and realize it was an error on race control's standpoint and, clearly, my fault," he said -- but he was lampooned for the call and never restored his credibility.
About six weeks later, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves took to Twitter to vent about Barnhart penalizing him for passing under yellow in Japan. He complained Barnhart was inconsistent in penalizing some drivers and not others, changed the rule book when it was convenient and blamed Barnhart for "bringing down an entire series."
The low point of last season, both for Barnhart and the entire series, occurred Oct. 16 at Las Vegas when two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed in a multicar crash. A report released in December absolved Barnhart and series officials of any blame.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.