With the hiring of Beaux Barfield as the IZOD IndyCar Series’ new Race Director, it appears that the IICS went out and secured the right man for the job.
Barfield’s résumé speaks for itself. Time as an official in ChampCar, a junior open wheel racing background of his own, and a respected tenure as Race Director in ALMS, it’s difficult to see how he wouldn’t have been at the top of the candidate listing. Barfield is also a known commodity among many of the drivers from his background both on and off the track.
Judging from his comments at the press conference announcing his hiring, Barfield seems to understand the level of responsibility inherent in his role.
“I think the decisions come down to the Race Director, period, end of story because ultimately I have to sit in the drivers' meeting and explain to the drivers exactly what my expectations are,” stated Barfield.
“I absolutely have the final say.”
For fans and drivers, ensuring the on-track action is well-administered and discipline is consistent will be what they’ll be looking for from Barfield. In his press conference announcing his new role, the new IICS Race Director seemed confident he could deliver just that, especially in light of his prior experience.
Recounting his background ranging from Formula Ford to ChampCar, Barfield stated, “That experience allowed me to get to know a lot of the drivers and people who are in the INDYCAR paddock today. My driving experience counts for a lot when you're in the heat of the battle making difficult decisions in Race Control.”
Although many are focusing on the race calls and penalties that will be a large part of Barfield’s responsibilities, he will also be heading up the effort to clarify and tighten up the Series’ rulebook—in fact, Randy Bernard cited that as Barfield’s first task in his new position. In order for rules to be consistently enforced, there needs to be solid definitions and clearly defined parameters as a basis for analyzing and applying rules to any situation. However, there will still be a need for adjudication, and that’s where experience and judgment in the Race Director’s role come into play.
For Barfield, the real work begins now. Race Director should not be a celebrity position; if he’s doing his job properly, then his relative anonymity will be a true measure of success.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com, which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate.