IndyCar has officially announced new IndyCar Race Director and President of Competition Beaux Barfield this morning. With a one-year contract, Barfield will have the final say on what happens on the track.
Barfield raced go-karts competitively as a youngster, winning his first karting race at age 15. He continued to race in Formula 2000 and IndyCar Lights before moving into teaching and coaching of open wheel tactics. Since 2008 Barfield has served as what most consider a successful Race Director for the American Le Mans Series; from 2003 to 2007 he served as steward for the now defunct Champ Car Series.
During this morning’s press conference, Randy Bernard indicates that he has been impressed with Beaux Barfield as being articulate, forward-thinking, experience. Bernard says “…this man has been chief officiator for another series and I think that is very important.” One of the first tasks for Barfield will be the re-writing the IndyCar rule book. Former IndyCar Race Director Brian Barnhart received much criticism throughout the 2011 season for his seemingly inconsistent calls, caused at least in part by the relaxed writing of the existing IndyCar rules book.
2012 not only brings a new Race Director to IndyCar, but a new car as well. Barfield will be tasked with retooling the IndyCar rules book to match the safety expectations that begin with the DW-12 Dallara car, to be more consistent over all situations, and to better fit the expectations of drivers and teams in regard to safety and fairness. Barfield reacted to his new position with comments including that he is looking forward to starting “from the ground up” in rebuilding the rules book.
In relation to the sometimes controversial calls in IndyCar on blocking, Beaux said “In the beginning, when I began my career in officiating, we made no calls on blocking. The next year, based on fan feedback we called absolutely everything on blocking. Both are absolutely wrong…the absolute black and white rules that most of us long for are not realistic….when it gets to the dangerous side, calls will be made.”
On officiating at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barfield says that “I don’t think anyone can put in words the real emotions that we all get when coming to somewhere like Indianapolis motor Speedway…I certainly respect that as much as anyone else in here does. Ultimately, when the green flag drops I have to put those things aside and focus on what’s going on, on the track.”
Barfield says that he will lay out the rules for race control and that stewards will serve as a “safety net.” Although he says he is not prepared to roll out his steward plan quite yet, he did state during the press conference today that he feels it is important to have stewards from different backgrounds to have a well-rounded group of support personnel. Showing a bit of his humorous side, Barfield laughed and said that he knows he is probably just drawing a blank but he cannot think of a controversial call that he has made in his past, although to an extent, he says all calls have some level of controversy.
Beaux does hav a healthy sense of humor – just visit his Twitter page (@BeauxBarfield) to confirm this. Prior to today’s announcement, his bio on Twitter reads “ALMS Race Director. Instructor/Coach. Amateur: motorcycle builder, guitar player, helicopter pilot. If it has wheels I'll ride it drive it fix it or f**k it up.” He self-censors, but at the same time is not afraid to speak his mind.
Scrolling through his last month or so of Twitter updates finds Barfield calling other sports personalities names when he feels it necessary, joking about favorite movie quotes and scenes, and interacting easily with those from many walks of life. Barfield is involved in a long-term relationship with Cody Unser, founder of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation (http://www.cufsf.org/) and daughter of two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr.