Beaux Barfield leaves IndyCar for IMSA; Hodgson also named for IMSA

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Verizon IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield will leave his post after a three-year stint, in order to take on a full-time role as IMSA race director, per sources to MotorSportsTalk. Further news from IMSA has followed later Friday afternoon.

Barfield took over the role in 2012, coming in after prior race director Brian Barnhart’s stint ended at the conclusion of the 2011 season. He had previously served as race director of the IMSA-sanctioned American Le Mans Series from 2008 through 2011, and had prior stewarding experience in Champ Car, Atlantic, Trans-Am and USF2000.

Upon Derrick Walker’s appointment as INDYCAR’s president of competition and operations in June 2013, Barfield was no longer the primary voice for IndyCar race control and officiating. Instead, Walker has served as the voice for any questions related to these topics.

A statement from INDYCAR supplied to its teams reads as follows:

INDYCAR would like to thank Beaux Barfield for his contributions to the Verizon IndyCar Series during the past three seasons and we wish him all the best as he assumes his new position with IMSA. INDYCAR’s on-track product showcases extremely competitive and compelling racing and we look forward to identifying a race director that will take the Verizon IndyCar Series to an even higher level starting in 2015.

While Barfield moved to IndyCar, Paul Walter took over the role of ALMS race director in 2012, did both ALMS and the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in 2013 and has been race director of IMSA’s unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014.

Barfield replaces Walter in the role for the last two TUDOR Championship races of 2014 and into 2015.

Where IndyCar goes from here remains to be seen. Barnhart is still on staff; he filled in for Barfield at the 2013 Toronto doubleheader race weekend.

On the IMSA side, here is the release issued Friday afternoon. Barfield isn’t the lone appointment here:

As the 2014 inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship prepares for its two final races and plans for the 2015 season take shape, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced a number of enhancements to its competition department. IMSA adds motorsports veterans Simon Hodgson and Beaux Barfield to key leadership positions while establishing key new roles for existing IMSA competition officials Scot Elkins, Paul Walter and Mark Raffauf.

source:
Simon Hodgson. Photo: Wayne Taylor Racing

Hodgson, a native of the United Kingdom, brings more than 25 years of experience in motorsports to his new position as IMSA’s Managing Director, Racing Operations. Hodgson’s experience includes positions in Formula 1, IndyCar and IMSA / GRAND-AM, where he most recently served as general manager of Wayne Taylor Racing’s championship-winning Prototype team.

Hodgson will oversee all racing operations functions, such as race directors, series platforms, competition administration, member services, track services and logistics. He will report to IMSA President and COO, Scott Atherton.

Elkins, who has served in an executive role with IMSA since 2008, becomes Managing Director, Technical Regulations. He will oversee the technical aspects of all IMSA-sanctioned series, with a primary focus on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda. Those aspects include Adjustment of Performance (AoP), technical regulations, homologation, technical staff and technical inspection.

He also will continue to represent IMSA for all international technical meetings with groups such as the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Automobile Club l’Ouest (ACO), and will continue to lead IMSA’s development in collaboration with the ACO and FIA of all aspects of the new TUDOR Championship Prototype (P) class car set to debut in 2017. Elkins will continue to report to Atherton.

“The addition of Simon to our senior leadership team and the redefinition of Scot’s responsibilities put IMSA in a very strong position domestically and abroad,” Atherton said. “Simon comes in with a wealth of relevant industry experience and has earned the respect of virtually everyone with whom he has come in contact throughout his very successful and diverse career.

“Likewise, Scot maintains a strong voice in defining technical regulations that shape the future of our sport here in the U.S., Europe and around the world. He has developed solid relationships with his international counterparts, which are vital to the long-term success of the technical rules that will govern and unify professional endurance sports car racing.”

Hodgson joins the company at its Daytona Beach headquarters on Monday, Sept. 8 and both he and Elkins assume their new responsibilities immediately.

Barfield tapped as new IMSA Race Director

Beginning with upcoming 2014 events at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Sept. 19-20 and the season finale Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, veteran official Beaux Barfield will become Race Director for the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire Challenge. Barfield served in the Race Director role of the IMSA-sanctioned American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón from 2008 through 2011. He most recently was Race Director for the IndyCar Series from 2012 to 2014.

Barfield will be responsible for race direction and race control staff for all TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire Challenge events.

With the addition of Barfield, Paul Walter moves into the role of Director, Racing Operations. His responsibilities will continue to include the development of all event schedules and supplementary regulations, as well as the IMSA Rule Books and related updates. Walter also will serve as the Clerk of the Course and have an active role in competition-related matters.

Long-time IMSA and GRAND-AM competition leader Mark Raffauf has been named IMSA Director, Series Platforms. He will have day-to-day oversight of all IMSA series platforms, including the TUDOR Championship, Continental Tire Challenge, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda, Ferrari Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin and Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

Barfield, Walter and Raffauf will report to Hodgson.

“These enhancements to our leadership structure will enable us to maximize the strengths of each of these individuals and our entire IMSA competition team,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “I am pleased to add Simon to our team, welcome Beaux back into the IMSA family and congratulate Scot, Paul and Mark on their new positions. All of them are proven professionals who will play important roles in the continued growth and development of IMSA now and into our bright future.”

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”