Bernard Barnhart and Race Control

The call/no call chatter about Helio at long beach last Sunday is frothing to a frenzy. On Tuesday we had Al Unser Jr. explaining the difference between a racing and a non racing incident. He goes on to say that the hammering from Penske Helio is going to inevitably get is a far worse punishment than anything a steward could impose. (Ed: something like that)  Unser is back at the next day giving more details about what had transpired in the closing segment of Sunday’s race.  Randy Bernard himself steps up for an interview on Thursday. I can’t believe the man who just got the news of a sub 0.3 rating in LB is getting pulled for an interview like this right now.

(Ed: Noticed Miller’s articles are getting more and more flamboyant recently and Pruett has been doing the bulk of the news breaking and serious news guy stuff… coincidence?)

Having been charged with the herculean task of saving the sinking ship that was the IRL, morphing the ashes of American open wheel racing into something quasi marketable and not spending any money in the process. . . The poor guy is getting dragged into race control issues. Micromanagement is what makes good leaders go insane. If Bernard is putting out fires all day long, how in the world is he ever going to make any forward progress with the series? How much longer can he take two steps back due to outside complaints? Randy is a jewel, and indy car nation needs to let him do his job of growing the series, not officiating races.

Everyone has something negative to say about Barnhart, but Bernard did a very good job putting what is going through a race steward’s mind when he is officiating. Bad calls are made in every sport, during the Pacer game on Thursday night, twitter was ablaze with chatter about bad calls from the refs. It is something that professional sports have to deal with. We do know one thing, Barnhart is in no one’s pocket and he is not shaving points. The only old guard left is in race control with him and he has the support of the new man in charge. Yes, he may showboat during qualifying for the 500, but he has shown he has the gusto to penalize when It is needed. At the end of the day a drive through would not have done much to negatively affect Helio’s race, but being put on probation again for the second year in a row will change attitudes. I think HCN may think twice before coming off the long straight through the Sambadrome, next week in Brazil, all hot and bothered like he has done the past 3 races.

No, I do not like the way Barnhart officiates races and my gripes with him are mostly the same as everyone else’s, but he has a tough job. It wasn’t very clear until I read Bernard’s interview, but there is more to the job than throwing the black flag at every punt. Rubbin’s racin’, even in indy car, always has been. He doesn’t do a terrible job, race control just needs more consistency in their penalizing. Graphics are a topic for another day, but man, how great is the F1 package?

Eric Hall


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