Don Halliday – Chief Engineer
Don Halliday, one of the most respected engineers in open wheel racing, is the chief engineer of the No. 14 ABC Supply Indy car.
Halliday quickly became comfortable with the Texas-based team even though he still works from his home in Ohio. “I initially noticed how friendly the group was and how accepting they were,” Halliday said. “Since then we have become a lot more organized with improved engineering systems and processes, which will make our task going forward that much smoother. Raul [Prados, performance engineer] has helped tremendously with this.”
Working with the family patriarch has proven challenging to some engineers but Halliday appears to have found a way to relate to Foyt. “I love A.J.’s passion,” he revealed, “and I feel we have a real good team feeling which probably comes from his son Larry’s very calm demeanor and the introduction of ‘honest respectful communication’.”
With just one test behind them (at the time of writing), Halliday assessed Takuma Sato’s strengths saying, “His speed and experience - I feel his descriptions of what is happening with the car are very accurate and we are getting to know one another quickly as was evident with his speed at Sebring.” Indeed, Sato posted the quickest time of 13 drivers at the private test which included the full contingent from the Penske and Ganassi teams.
Working with the speedster whose longtime philosophy is ‘No Attack, No Chance,’ Halliday adds with a smile, “I think our task will be to go through each weekend at 99.5% and not have sections where he is at 100.5%!” But he agrees with team owner Foyt that it is easier to slow down a driver than it is to speed him up.
Last year, Halliday took on the challenge of sorting out the brand new Dallara chassis—in fact it was the motivating factor for his return to the IZOD IndyCar Series after a seven-year absence.
“It’s what I’ve always been used to from working in Formula 1 and through designing Indy cars as well – that’s part of what you do,” said the New Zealand native who has been a U.S. citizen for a number of years.
Halliday’s open wheel resume dates back to the late ‘70s, working with the Bruce McLaren Formula One team before moving on to Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team in 1983-1984. He moved to Indy car racing in 1985 with Maury Kraines’ Kraco team, then spent 1987-1988 in European Formula 3000 before returning to Indy cars for good in 1989. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he enjoyed success with some of the top teams and drivers in the CART Indy Car series including Truesports (with driver Scott Pruett), Tasman (with driver Andre Ribeiro), Team Kool Green (with drivers Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy), and Team Rahal (with driver Kenny Brack). He has designed race-winning Indy cars in his career that began in the 1970s in his native New Zealand. In 1977, he designed, built and drove his Formula Vee race car to the New Zealand championship.
Halliday’s return to the IndyCar Series last year followed a productive entrepreneurial period for his automotive engineering company Halliday Technologies Inc. which he founded in 1994. Halliday Technologies Inc. holds several patented designs in auto safety related areas, including the Real Time Traction Tool (RT3) – a breakthrough technology that measures friction between individual tires and the road and runway surface. This technology has been used in auto racing and by Firestone in the development of race tires.
Halliday also designed a military vehicle using DMACS technology which vents the blast through the vehicle providing enhanced protection for the war fighter in the event of an IED blast. He holds several patents for this technology which has proven, in simulation and live blast testing, to reduce the accelerations on the occupants by over 70%.
“I’ve become a bit of an inventor,” he acknowledges.
Halliday’s being able to think outside the box is one factor that appeals to team owner A.J. Foyt.
“I like the way Don thinks,” Foyt said. “He was a key factor in making the car competitive last year and with that season under our belt, we have a lot of data to work with. In our tests with Takuma he worked really well so I think this team will surprise people this season.”