An ICONIC symbol of the "new" IndyCar series

Retired 4-star General William Looney, new chair of the ICONIC IZOD IndyCar Series Advisory Committee (Photo: USAF)

Everybody loves a good acronym, particularly in business.

The best acronyms, of course, are those that not only flow well off of the tongue, but also mean the same thing in both short and expanded form. It may take some reaching to get it to work correctly, but in the end it's a more significant symbol.

The new IZOD IndyCar Series advisory committee on the 2012 chassis question has one of those doubly-meaningful acronyms. The panel will be labeled "ICONIC," which stands for "Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective."

Yes, the name is kind of a stretch and somewhat gimmicky. But since several of the new IndyCar concepts that have been presented to the series fit that description as well, it seems like a good fit.

The ICONIC panel is chaired by retired four-star Air Force General William R. Looney III. Looney's service record is somewhat typical of officers who achieve flag rank, with all of the requisite commands, promotions and medals that are required to advance to the top of the military ladder. The area of Looney's expertise that makes him an asset to IndyCar appears to be his experience as an administrator in the Air Force's recruiting and education command. Balancing the demands of disparate subordinates and streamlining their needs into a cohesive whole through discipline and pragmatism was definitely good practice for handling the self-interest of open-wheel lobbyists.

Joining Looney on the ICONIC panel will be experts representing IndyCar's management, team ownership, engineering, and powerplants. The team owner representative will be elected by full-time members of the Leader's Circle program, while the other experts will be selected by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard.

ICONIC is expected to come up with a recommendation on the 2012 chassis in less than 90 days, after which Bernard will make the final selection based on their report.

The advisory committee continues the trend of major league decisions being guided by what could be termed "outsiders" to the IndyCar community. Considering the IndyCar series' history over the past two or three decades, outsider oversight may actually be overdue. The IndyCar series continues to struggle to regain its mass appeal after nearly two decades of special-interest strife and a catastrophic split between the Indy Racing League and CART/Champ Car series.

Although the IndyCar press release announcing the ICONIC panel mentioned Terry Angstadt's and Brian Barnhart's roles in "researching and developing" the 2012 chassis, most of the objectives for the new car - explained by Bernard as "safe, raceable, cost-effective, American-made, less mass/more efficient, relevant technology, modern look and green" - are directly attributable to the DeltaWing project, the details of which were leaked in advance of the concept model's unveiling in Chicago earlier this year. The leaked information spurred on a rash of new design concepts from current chassis builder Dallara, former CART/Champ Car supplier Lola, Swift Engineering, and BAT Engineering to compete against the DeltaWing, which is backed by a majority of the IndyCar team owners.

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