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Miles Talks New IndyCar Steward System

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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.
“Another value for us is timeliness. Over the time of the series last year, it felt like more and more calls were getting made on Tuesday and announced on Wednesday. We hope to stop that to the maximum possible extent.
“So our expectation is that the stewards will make the calls during the race, the penalty will be determined; we won’t be having that conversation on Wednesday. The incidental exception will be when we learn something after the race, like a tech inspection. I think you can expect that from us, finishing a race and knowing what happened to the greatest possible extent. I think the drivers, the participants, the fans deserve that.”
Papis is still a current driver in other racing series including IMSA and brings a fresh perspective to his role as a race steward.
“You guys know well the love I have for the sport – it’s been the No. 1 reason why I came here,” Papis said. “When Jay called me, I asked him exactly what he meant, what he wanted out of me. When he told me about the words “consistency, transparency,” I was sold.
“I feel that obviously I’ve always been on the other side. I’m still on the other side. I’m still a race car driver. But it’s a set of eyes that really can determine if things are done – for which reasons things are happening on the track is going to make a really big difference.”
Ironically, Davis ran Ford’s motorsports effort during the time of the infamous split between CART and the old Indy Racing League. Davis decided to remain loyal to CART and abandon Ford’s involvement with the Indianapolis 500 when it was part of the Indy Racing League.
“I was with Ford forever and ever; I learned a lot about the sport, but I wasn’t as an official,” Davis said. “I will tell you things that are so important to me, so important, are honesty, integrity and fairness. It’s led my entire career since I started in the business at 18 years old. I started in the auto business at 18. It’s 40 years later. If you don’t have integrity, you don’t have anything. That is what we’re going to bring to the stewardship. I think it’s important and that’s what we’re going to do.
“As many of you know, I am passionate for motorsports and I am passionate for open-wheel, and that’s why I’m here.”
The additions of the three race stewards along with the addition of Bill Pappas as INDYCAR vice president of Technology are three of the biggest decisions Frye has made since replacing Derrick Walker at INDYCAR President during the off season.
“In general, the league had a pretty good week this week,” Frye said. “We made some additions with four new people, Bill Pappas, our new vice president of competition and race engineering, then the three new stewards. We had an opportunity to make the league better, stronger, and we are really excited about what we have been able to accomplish this week.
“I’ve known Dan Davis for a long time, with the NASCAR days, with him running the Ford program. We weren’t ever a Ford team at the time, but I had great respect for him and the things he did.
“You get to know people even when you don’t know them obviously with the way we all travel together. With Ford, they had great respect for him. Integrity, great guy, wanted to do whatever it took to do to get the job done.
“When we started thinking about who would be a perfect candidate to help us with this, we thought of him. It wasn’t because we go way back as much as the respect I had for him for what he had done. I watched it from afar more than on a day-to-day basis.”

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