Roger Bailey's new challenge


The Grand-Am has made a wise choice in selecting Roger Bailey to be the new chief appellate officer of the American sports car series. Bailey replaces highly respected IMSA co-founder John Bishop who held the Grand-Am’s appeals boss job since the organisation’s founding in 1999. Bailey’s job is to be the final judge of appeals of any Grand-Am rules decision or penalty. He will also work with Grand-Am’s Mark Raffauf and the ALMS’s technical chief Scot Elkins to establish the rules for the combined 2014 American sports car series.

Bailey started his career as a racing mechanic more than 50 years ago working on Jim Russell’s cars. He was Jackie Stewart’s mechanic when Stewart won the 1964 British Formula 3 championship in Ken Tyrrell’s Cooper and was Chris Amon’s personal chief mechanic at Ferrari from 1967-’69 before joining McLaren to build Can-Am and IndyCar engines and winning the Indy 500 with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and ‘76.

In 1980 John Bishop hired Bailey to be IMSA’s technical director and four years later Pat Patrick convinced Bailey to run the American Racing Series which became Indy Lights. Bailey ran the Lights series for 26 years before retiring early this year after a series of disagreements with now departed IndyCar boss Randy Bernard.

With Bishop deciding to retire from his role as Grand-Am’s rules commissioner, Bailey was the natural candidate to replace him. He was approached a few months ago and was confirmed this week in his new job. Bailey is also excited about helping steer the combined Grand-Am/ALMS series in the right direction in 2014 and beyond.

“I think there’s tremendous potential there,” Bailey says. “With the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring and Petit Le Mans and a strong schedule of the best road courses and street circuits the potential is there to be the pre-eminent road racing series in North America. It’s not going to be easy to find the right formula but I think they’re taking a very realistic attitude and they’re being very open to encouraging people from out of the box to be involved.

“We’ve got to find a way to upgrade the Daytona prototypes to make them equal in performance to an LMP2 car. It’s difficult to say what the future is of LMP1 because there are so few of them here in the United States. There’s a bigger problem with the GT cars because the GT Porsches in the ALMS are international style RSR Carreras and the Grand-Am cars are much more restricted.

“I’m sure the LMP Challenge will continue in some form. That’s where the DeltaWing will probably run. I want to see that car out there and running and I know many other people want to see that happen. People want to see new and different things and the DeltaWing defines that.

“As always in racing, it’s going to be difficult to strike the right balance between having affordable racing and encouraging new technology. But there are some very good people at the Grand-Am and the ALMS and I’m sure it can be made to happen.”

The Grand-Am and ALMS could not have found a better man to help achieve an often elusive goal. Everyone in the sport wishes Bailey and his colleagues the best of luck. If they get it right, we’ll be there cheering.

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