INDIANAPOLIS – What I’m saying here isn’t new. I’ve been banging the Jay Frye is the best thing to happen to INDYCAR drum since he was hired in 2013. His background and leadership skills have been among the biggest factors to why the series is growing the way it is. An example, Mark Miles said today in Detroit that the fan base has risen 38-percent over the last few years. Also, attendance is up at almost every track. Indianapolis is seeing 400,000 spectators walk through the gates of 16th and Georgetown now throughout the course of the entire Month of May, 300,000 of which on race day alone.
The drivers are on his side. The owners and teams are on his side. The fan base is on his side. Heck, there’s four new teams coming the series’ way.
Now, there’s a new car that will debut in 2018.
Credit all of this to Frye and his talented team. He’s the only person in decades that’s been able to unite all sides to this series. In the past, a person in his position was in a tough job. They could never make a decision that would make all parties happy. Eventually, the paddock would grumble and the fan base would loudly object to any decision made.
It’s no secret, the series used to look like a sport with no direction. While I know there was some methods behind the madness, to the public eye and to the media, it looked like the series was run by the seat of their pants.
With Frye, it’s all change. It’s now a well oiled machine.
On Tuesday, he spoke of a five-year plan. A what? Five-year plan? That’s something you’d never hear in INDYCAR. Now, Frye is speaking highly of not just this plan that was implemented, but how it’s actually working.
“Well, part of this, again, whole process we talked about, we’ve come up with a five-year plan, Frye said on Tuesday. “The plan actually was activated and started in ’17 by freezing the current kits and then having the universal car starting in ’18, so this car will run in ’18, ’19, and ’20. End of ’18 we’ll get together with a collaboration of people and come up with what our goal or plan is for ’21 and beyond, so the plan is kind of a rolling five-year plan.
“So ,so far, so good, and I think coming from a team perspective it’s important to have — that everyone understands the direction of the series, where we’re going, what we’re doing, what it’s going to cost. All this is locked in now for the next three years, so I think, again, this all goes back to all the people that helped make this all happen, and it was a great effort by our entire paddock, by Chevrolet, Honda, Dallara. Firestone has been at all the tests with — this car is probably going to need a little bit different tire than the ’17 version, so it’s been a great team effort.”
A lot stands out to me there, but the biggest? “Everyone understands the direction of the series, where we’re going, what we’re doing, what is’ going to cost.”
That seems completely new to this series. No one in the past had everyone aligned like Frye does. Frye, not only has everyone aligned, but he has a plan for them and they’re all united in it.
The next thing that I see from Frye, is that he’s a great leader. He’s instrumental to all of this, but here the man is giving everyone else credit too.
“It’s been a great team effort,” he says.
How about what he said preceding that?
“It’s been a phenomenal team effort by our current OEM partners, Chevrolet and Honda, all the teams, everybody in the paddock, all our guys at INDYCAR and girls have done a phenomenal job to get it to this point. A very proud day. This process started early in December of ’15 with I guess the direction or what could be the direction. By first quarter ’16 we came up with a vision of what the car could look like and how it could possibly perform, and like you mentioned, we unveiled what it possibly could look like last January here.
“It’s been a long process, but it’s been very rewarding and very, I guess — it’s done everything we thought it would do and then some, so we’re really pleased and encouraged by where we’re at.”
This man gets it. He’s a the leader that this series has always needed and he’s surrounded himself with the best people.
He talks about planning even further later on.
“Yes, but I think part of it was that we had a — it was a well-thought-out and good plan,” Frye continued. “If you go back to the whole process starting in December of ’15 through coming up with a vision, kind of idealist in the first quarter of ’16 to freezing the kits for ’17, going through the process that summer to figure out what we wanted to do, and then even coming here last January where we unveiled some sketches and drawings of the car. I think in that time frame we also tested the ’17 version car with some of the ideas we had for the ’18 car, and everything came back from that. So this car is correlated throughout the whole process, whether it’s scale model testing, track testing, anything we’ve done, and that’s a huge compliment to everybody who’s been a part of this, and we’re really proud of where it is.”
As he said, this whole thing started a few years ago and the plan has been detailed and down to the point. He’s been open and honest the whole way through and today was a proud moment for the series and Frye.
If you don’t know the process or the direction, you’re just not paying attention. How Doug Boles is the best person to happen to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jay Frye is the equivalent to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
This series is on the right track.