There are going to be some changes at the Indianapolis-based Verizon IndyCar Series, beginning in mid-December when long-serving vice president of competition and head of race control Brian Barnhart leaves to take over the presidency of Harding Racing, also situated in Indianapolis, Ind.
Barnhart joins Al Unser Jr and Larry Curry as chief operatives for the start-up operation, which ran Gabby Chaves in a few series races last year and is ramping up to run the full series in 2018. Barnhart joins Harding Racing on December 18.
“We are thrilled to have Brian join Harding Racing,” said Mike Harding, the team’s owner. “Brian’s years of experience on the both the IndyCar competition side and the operations side makes him an invaluable resource within the league. We have the legendary Al Unser Jr., an incredibly talented young driver in Gabby Chaves, a hand-picked winning crew led by team manager Larry Curry and now Brian.
“He is the missing piece,” Harding continued, “that will take Harding Racing to victory lane.”
Barnhart is among the longest-serving members of the INDYCAR operations group, having started with the organization in 1997, just two years after its formation. He has served in various capacities with INDYCAR over the years, but this is not his first time with a private team. Barnhart was a crew member for various open wheel race teams in CART, notably working with Unser Jr.
“I am so appreciative of my years at INDYCAR and with the Hulman-George family,” Barnhart said. “The opportunity from Harding Racing to return to the competition side of INDYCAR racing was too hard to pass up. I am very excited about the incredible opportunity to work with Harding Racing and alongside Al Unser Jr. again.”
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Unser Jr. expressed his pleasure at working with Barnhart on the team side: “In our younger years, we won two Indianapolis 500s and two CART championships together. I’m looking forward to celebrating many more victories with Brian and Harding Racing.”
Harding Racing made its debut at the 101st Indianapolis 500 last May with Chaves, the former Indy Lights champion, finishing ninth. The team also competed at Texas Motor Speedway in June, taking fifth, and raced the tricky Pocono Raceway triangle in August, securing a 15th place result. The team competes full-time in the upcoming Chevrolet-powered 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.