The Verizon IndyCar Series’ competition department completed its overhaul Wednesday, when the league named a new panel of race stewards including two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and open-wheel veteran Max Papis. The two veteran drivers will team with motorsports executive Dan Davis to monitor on-track competition.
Davis will serve as the chief steward amongst the trio, with all three of them answering to Jay Frye, who was named the league’s new President of Competition and Operations in November.
IndyCar announced the formation of the new stewards’ panel via press release, and it should be great news for race fans that two-thirds of the people making the calls about racing incidents are people who have actually raced. Luyendyk (pictured above) was the CART Rookie of the Year in 1985, won the Indianapolis 500 in both 1990 and 1997, and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Papis is another well-known name whose career includes three wins in CART, but is probably better known for his success in sportscar racing, including two wins in both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring endurance events and a 2004 Grand Am Rolex Series championship. Papis made headlines in 2013 when he was slapped by the girlfriend of a fellow NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver with whom he had collided on-track.
Davis will serve as IndyCar’s chief steward, which makes him the panel’s leader, and while he’s never been a racer, he has spent four decades and counting in the motor industry including 14 years as director of Ford Racing Technology. That position meant he was in charge of the entirety of Ford’s North American racing operations, so he’s certainly very familiar with the world even if he lacks extensive experience behind the wheel.
The fact that IndyCar has hired these three to be the overseeing body for competition is a strong positive for the league going into 2016. One only needs to look back at the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season to recognize the importance of having consistent standards in place for competition; NASCAR seemed to change its policies (and punishments) for each situation.
In contrast, IndyCar has gone out and found people whose resumes prove the league is serious about officiating races, and that it wants to have personnel who understand and respect the drivers’ point of view. Hopefully if there are any concerns about racing incidents, this trio will be able to evaluate them not as executives but as racers – and handle them in a way that is clear, consistent and fair for all involved.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.