Former Champ Car vice president of operations/race director Tony Cotman is now the project manager of the IZOD IndyCar Series' new technical program that will debut in 2012. Cotman, who currently serves as both the leader of track design firm NZR Consulting and race director for Firestone Indy Lights, will be charged with making the rules and prices for the new IndyCar engine and chassis.
The New Zealand native has experience in overseeing car creation, as he looked after development on the Panoz DP-01, the final chassis in Champ Car history.
"I understand how important developing the right rules are in a timely manner for this process," Cotman said in a statement from the Indy Racing League. "Introduction of the new car and engine are not far off, and we have a lot of work to do. Having a strong team and committed chassis and engine partners will make my tasks that much easier.
"I look forward to developing and implementing rules that will provide opportunities for new manufacturer involvement and increased competition in the 2012 season."
League CEO Randy Bernard felt that Cotman's hiring will help the League focus on both its future and its present.
"The timing of completing these rules is critical to the development process," he said. "By bringing Tony on board to focus solely on the 2012 car, we can let [League president of competition] Brian Barnhart and the competition staff focus on completing the current race season while preparing for next year."
Robin Miller got what he wanted!
Sorry, but after reading piece after piece that had Miller pushing Cotman as the cure for many of IndyCar's ailments, that was indeed the first thing that popped into my head when the news broke on Cotman getting this very important gig. But seriously, folks...TC has earned a great reputation over the years and it isn't because he's been lucky.
The next-generation IndyCar is a massive project. I try not to exaggerate, but nothing less than the fate of the series (and in turn, open-wheel racing in North America) is riding on this. If the League gets it right, the sport is on the road to a miraculous revival. If the League gets it wrong, the sport remains stuck in irrelevancy -- probably for good.
There's a lot of things to be taken care of, but perhaps most importantly, Cotman will have to insure that teams will be able to afford all the bits and baubles that will go with the 2012 Dallara/[insert aero kit maker here] machines. He can't have them get messed with financially by Dallara or Honda over on the engine front.
Cotman told Miller in a SPEEDTV.com article that such a situation wouldn't occur.
“We’ve got to get this cluster under control and my job is to represent the owners and the series,” he said in the article. “We have to make it very clear that IndyCar is running the ship, not Dallara, or any other suppliers. People need to know how things are going to affect their budget and I’m all for a new car, but we’ve got to be smart in doing it.
"We’ll see what, if anything, is useful from the car we have now than can be carried over. And we need to get the engine rules out there so Randy has them when he meets with interested manufacturers."
Smart talk. But will he be able to back it up? We'll see.