IndyCar: ICONIC Cartoon Break

Andy BernsteinCorrespondent IJune 16, 2010

HOLLYWOOD - MAY 20:  Producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg speaks at the Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony honoring cartoon character Shrek who was honored with the 2408 Star on May 20, 2010 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

To the basement of the Brickyard Crossing Inn we travel, for a glimpse at the future...and the Shrek in the room that all are content to ignore.

That's where the ICONIC panel meets, and their table is now adorned with a full complement of colorful drawings and spec sheets. Anything being overlooked?

If the 2012 IndyCar Season starts as planned, with fresh new equipment to fill the grid, Andretti Autosports will have found roughly $2,660,000. in new funding.

This figure includes the offset from the potential 25 percent reduction in engine lease costs. It doesn't include any line items in their operating budget now...every team will still have payroll, transportation, shop and equipment costs, tire expenditures, etc.

But to start the season with four cars on the grid, and a spare chassis for each driver, $2.66 million in additional funds is probably close to the ticket. More, if you add a nice spares package for each entry.

Not far from the Brickyard Inn Basement, and not very long ago, there were 78 Dallara chassis filling the garages on Gasoline Alley. Go ahead, tell me you hate them. Tell me they are iconic symbols of IndyCar's dark days, or are obsolete as race cars capable of competing in events that the public will watch.

Dallara: the Shrek of contemporary motorsports. Grab your pitchforks.

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I'll grant you this much, there was a lot of green in those Indy garages. If we use the most credible public estimate for a new Dallara chassis of $600,000, that means there was a total of $46,800,000. worth of rolling stock ready to giddyup. Engine lease cost not included.

Next year, unlike 2012, every team won't have to purchase new chassis. In reality there are not a great number of Dallaras sold to new teams, or added to replace cars wadded up on track. The durability of the present chassis permits teams to run them for several years, and that line item on the budget is thus decreased.

Let's say those 78 Dallaras were ALL used cars, and we'll mark 'em down to put you in one today. At half price, we're looking at $23.4 million for the lot.

We can only hope that big lump of green isn't invisible to the ICONIC panel, lost under the many colorful drawings of the future. That's too much money for IndyCar team owners to lose.

Any plan that includes the continued participation of the current Dallara chassis, even if they are relegated to use as Indy one-offs or T cars, is a step back to reality. Otherwise, every team owner watches his investment in them evaporate.

Nothing against AA, they were chosen as an example to clearly represent both the magnitude of the investment, and the magnitude of the problem. AA supports selection of the Delta Wing chassis, and the figure calculated for new chassis was taken directly from Delta Wing's cost estimate of a $600,000.

That was for a turn-key race car, so we'll subtract the $150,000. AER engine that has yet to be approved. The chassis will require AA to fork over $3.6 million for eight Delta rollers. IF the best case scenario comes true, and the Honda engine lease cost drops by 25 percent, about $1M will be saved on the four leases.

That's where the figure of $2.66M in new funding comes from. Who produces it is another question.

It was great to read that AA has secured funding for Ryan Hunter-Reay to race at Iowa this weekend. That gets them back to four entrants on the grid, and hopefully they can finish the season that way. Adam Carroll waits in the wings, presumably as a fifth AA entry who also lacks funding commitments to define his schedule.

If most other IndyCar teams are in better financial shape than Andretti Autosports, it would be wonderful to read the news. Dragon De Ferran Racing is short a chassis: aren't there any used Dallaras around to be bought, and to put Davey Hamilton in one today?

No green. None for HVM to buy a replacement for Simona De Silvestro, either. But in 2012, that will all be different. Every IndyCar team will have the added funds to buy new chassis and T cars, spare parts packages and upgraded service equipment. At least, that's the plan...

And where is that money coming from? Maybe they should ask Shrek. I hear he's a big movie star. IndyCar knows how much they bring to the table. 

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