INDYCAR Turbocharger Ruling Appealed By GM

Image courtesy Honda Performance Development

Image courtesy Honda Performance Development

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Turbo-Gate isn't over yet. A ruling went against General Motors the week of the Sao Paulo IZOD IndyCar Series race after the manufacturer's Chevrolet racing division questioned competitor Honda's use of a different  compressor cover A/R for their single Borg Warner turbocharger than that originally made for the unit. Borg Warner had developed the newer unit over the past year intending for it to be used on Honda's turbo, feeling no need to update the similar covers for Chevrolet's and Lotus' twin turbochargers.

A three-person panel agreed with Honda and Borg Warner and allowed Honda Performance Development to use the newer spec compressor cover A/R; the results were a far more competitive race in Sao Paulo. Where the first three road/street course contests had seen Chevy-powered Indy cars enveloping the front of the grid and finishing positions, the top six qualifiers in Brazil were split evenly between Chevrolet and Honda. There was parity for the first time this year, although the results were pretty much the same: Team Penske and Will Power took their fourth and third straight victories, respectively.

On Thursday, May 3 INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series announced there would be a hearing for Chevrolet's appeal of the ruling meted before the Brazilian race. General Motors, the parent company of Chevrolet protested INDYCAR's decision and their appeal hearing takes place on Wednesday, May 9 in Indianapolis, one day before the start of Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in anticipation of the 96th Indianapolis 500.

Honda has been invited to participate in the hearing, but the proceedings are closed to the public and to media. The appeal decision will be final and binding, according to the INDYCAR rulebook that states (13.11, Appeal Procedure Final): "Decisions of Officials shall be final and binding unless such decisions and penalties may be protestable under the Rules, are protested, and appealed within the time limitations and other procedures prescribed by the Rules, and such protests or appeals are pending."

In his role as the Appeal Official, INDYCAR President of Operations and Strategy Brian Barnhart has elected to utilize a single individual to resolve the appeal, pursuant to rule 13.4, Jurisdiction: "The Appeal Official shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to resolve all appeals. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Appeal Official shall have the right to select an individual or individuals to resolve an appeal with all of the powers and responsibilities of the Appeal Official set forth in this Rule 13. The jurisdiction of the Appeal Official is limited to those matters and issues submitted in the appellant's written appeal. The decision which is the subject of the appeal shall not be stayed pending the appeal unless otherwise determined by the Appeal Official and upon such terms as the Appeal Official deems appropriate."

Barnhart chose retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm to hear the proceedings next week.

Justice Boehm retired from the Court on Sept. 30, 2010. Justice Boehm brings his substantial and unique experience to bear on matters through mediation, arbitration and private judge services with the Van Winkle - Baten Dispute Resolution group. As a private lawyer, in-house counsel, and managing partner of an Indiana law firm, Justice Boehm has participated in the negotiated settlement of a large number of complex business disputes.  

The jurist also had extensive experience in negotiating substantial transactions including business acquisitions and dispositions, real estate transactions and a variety of commercial agreements. He served as Chairman and CEO of the organizing committee for the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, and was the first President and CEO of Indiana Sports Corporation.

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