Blair New But Experienced
January 31, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
He knows the key phrases, thanks the right people, praises the proper officials, but, more important, Blair has the pieces in place to compete for wins and maybe more as he enters his second year as a car owner.
Alex Barron will drive for Blair in the Indy Racing League this season and will, Blair hopes, bring the team the success it was so close to in CART last year.
“If we achieve the things that we want to in terms of delivering a quality product to Alex, Alex’s performance on the track itself, it will result in hopefully some great wins, as well as some significant position in the point standings,” Blair said.
Blair failed to win or place high in the points in CART last season, but the team put together some successful runs.
In June, Max Wilson drove a steady race in the rain and the team pulled off a quick pit stop on the way to fourth place at Portland International Raceway. Then, Barron finished the 13th in Australia and ninth in Fontana, Calif., in the final two races of the team’s first season.
The solid runs proved the team could be a contender. Blair moved to the IRL in the offseason, but he kept Barron. Blair also enlisted several racing veterans to help run the team.
Tom Gloy is president of the team. He has three decades of experience as a driver and an owner in a variety of series, including NASCAR, CART and IMSA. John Dick is the team’s engineer. He has worked with drivers such as Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy and Max Papis. In 1990, he was part of the Indianapolis 500-winning team with Arie Luyendyk. General manager Bob Sprow has 20 years of experience. He has been team manager or crew chief for teams such as Penske Racing, Newman-Haas Racing and Patrick Racing.
With that kind of team, no wonder Blair is so confident.
“We’ll be well-prepared, and I hope that in the competitive spirit of being out there with the other teams itself, that we are able to put together exceptional performance,” Blair said. “We aren’t going to make any big, huge lofty claims of what we’re going to achieve. We’re going to earn the respect of the other competitors on the track, hopefully of the media, our sponsors and demonstrate the very competitive program overall.”
Part of Blair’s program includes Chevrolet engines built by McLaren Performance Technologies. McLaren is best known for being part of Johnny Rutherford’s Indy 500 wins in 1974 and 1976.
Blair Racing co-owner Hayden Harris is the chairman of McLaren.
“The relationship with McLaren Performance Technology is really quite key for us, as well,” Blair said. “Our team is not only proud to be Powered by McLaren, but sees the relationship as a true competitive advantage.”
McLaren’s history at Indy also includes a pole position with Pancho Carter in 1985.
Blair would like nothing more than to put the McLaren name back in victory lane, especially at Indy, but just heading to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway is exciting enough.
“This is going to be an enormously exciting opportunity because there have been chances which I’ve had to go and observe,” Blair said. “But this is actually going to be the first time of being at the Brickyard for the 500, and it’s not just as an observer. It’s going to be as an owner. So that’s going to be a very significant life experience, if you will.”
Blair has other business to tend to before he heads to Indy, though. The first open test of the season is Feb. 6-9 at California Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. A few weeks later the season begins at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 2.