The Verizon IndyCar Series announced today that Brian Barnhart is returning to the position of Race Director this season. Barnhart was Chief Steward from 1997 – 2011, who was then replaced by Beaux Barfield. Now that Barfield has moved on to the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, Barnhart will be in charge of event operations and serve as one of three stewards that officiate each race. This won’t be anything new, as he served as a steward last season.
The news was made known to the drivers this morning, as they had their drivers meeting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in preparation for the 2015 season which begins in March.
Barnhart was replaced after the 2011 season, in which there were multiple controversial calls made by he and race control. The most glaring one came at New Hampshire, where he decided to restart the race in wet conditions. The result was a pile of skidding cars, and an angry Will Power, who turned to race control and displayed an obscene gesture known to many as the “double birds.”
During the last three seasons, Barnhart has served as Vice President of Competition in addition to his role as a race steward. Derrick Walker said that Barnhart’s experience in race control and his knowledge of the three steward system led to their decision. “One of the things that excites me the most is the steward system we implemented last year,” Barnhart said in a statement. “That was a great advancement in how we review and make discretionary decisions, and having that assistance in making calls is a big improvement to the way we officiate IndyCar events.”