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Indy Racing League set to announce new chassis

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Indy Racing League officials this afternoon will chart their future by announcing their decision on a new chassis for the 2012 season in a press conference at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Motorsports observers expect a major multimedia display, thus the IMA backdrop. They also expect the decision to stir up some controversy, a situation the series’ new CEO will have to manage to keep the IRL moving forward. IBJ.com will post an update after the announcement.

IRL CEO Randy Bernard has been working for the last few months to determine which of five chassis options the series will go with. The radical Delta Wing model, with its fender-like features and "Batmobile" appearance has garnered the most attention. But motorsports insiders expect Bernard, with the help of an advisory committee he formed shortly after beginning as CEO in March, to chose both the Dallara and Lola chassis.

Dallara and Lola designs offer some unique innovations, but are less radical than at least two of the other options. Bernard is also expected to broker a deal to assure at least part of the manufacturing of the new chassis is done locally.

The decision will be Bernard’s first major decision since he’s taken office, and racing sources expect some acrimony to follow.

“This decision will be controversial, no doubt,” said Zak Brown, who represents myriad motorsports sponsors in multiple series. “One big issue facing Randy is how does he make this decision without becoming a lightning rod. Each chassis has a level of support, and he’s going to have to manage the situation to assure there’s no more division among the series’ participants and supporters.”

Brown said the IRL was overdue for a chassis change. Currently, IRL teams race use an eight-year-old chassis design that has been criticized for being unsafe, outdated and boring to watch.

Currently, Dallara is the sole IRL chassis provider. But Bernard’s advisory committee has advised him to select multiple chassis makers for 2012 and beyond.

Series officials are attempting a difficult task, bringing the cost of racing down while making the series’ race cars more sophisticated.

“It’s not an easy thing [IRL officials] are trying to achieve,” Brown said. “It will take a little time to prove it was the right choice.”
 

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