Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 28, 2011

Attention Randy Bernard and Tony George: INDYCAR is the Most Important Thing. Get Together.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Here are some marching orders from actual fans that are deeply passionate about the future of the sport. This involves both Randy Bernard and Tony George, and we want you to pay very close attention. Last week Robin Miller unleashed a large pile of tin foil hat conspiracy theories that were more whacko than usual on the Speed TV website. Most of them had to do with his fear of what might happen if/when Tony George, with the assistance of hand-picked cronies, eventually gained control of IMS/INDYCAR, etc. after regaining a seat on the Hulman & Company board. Almost every scenario had Randy Bernard probably leaving in a huff.

I call bullsh*t. If I know Tony, he has probably distanced himself on purpose to give Randy and crew room to maneuver. Even if that is not the case, there are a few things that absolutely need to happen.

-Attention Randy Bernard: You have sought the counsel of everyone from owners to manufacturers to sponsors to television folks to Robin Miller to fans and lots of other constituencies. That is outstanding. One guy who actually does know, in a manner of speaking, where all the bodies are buried is Tony George. He has a passion for IMS that has not been seen since his grandfather was alive. He actively practiced Mr. Hulman’s philosophy of eschewing some profit in favor of improving the physical plant a little more every year. Tony would make a much better ally than some perceived sinister enemy. It is far too easy to buy into the stereotype idiots have created for him, but it is crucial that his input be considered. Get with him. Insist upon it.

-Attention Tony George: Up until now your involvement with Randy Bernard has been minimal, and that has probably been advisable. Now that the Bernard honeymoon is over I believe it is imperative for the two of you to work together as partners working toward mutual goals. I understand you may be nervous about, for example, new track records. IMS has killed more drivers than any other track. Your family has had to deal with every death since 1946. I understand the trepidation. I also understand fans like to see envelopes pushed, and none really have been since 1997. We also see that Randy has done more in a year than the IRL did in many before it. So work with him. Give him your support again publicly. Have dinner with him. Set it up as soon as he gets back from Europe.

If both parties approach this from a practical standpoint I believe even more great things could happen. One of the biggest obstacles to forward movement of the INDYCAR Series has got to be the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is now led by overly conservative, risk-averse bean counters. As such, potentially great deals and promotion of its biggest event ever are slipping through cracks. That is probably an area Randy Bernard would like to see accommodated a little more aggressively. Tony George could definitely help facilitate that sort of change.

So please, for the sake of the sport and all of its fans, work together without cynicism to advance the stature of the sport. Do it for the fans. Randy, you are doing a wonderful job. Tony, help Randy reach even higher heights. This is no time to let egos get in the way of forward progress.

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February 25, 2011

Tony George and the Crazy INDYCAR-Obsessed Who Stalk His Every Move

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:27 pm

There is certainly a beehive of negativity around the Internet about the return of Tony George to the board of directors of Hulman & Company. Collective angst is led, predictably, by Robin Miller. He laid out a far reaching set of conspiracy theories in his Speed TV website column this week, including Anton masterminding a coup d’état to return to power, Randy Bernard running for the hills, and Tony cronies being added to 3 more new slots on the board to help him facilitate his plan of attack.

Most of the whacko proclamations by Internet-based chicken littles are just plain nutty. I prefer using common sense and facts, which include Tony George being openly supportive of the great job Bernard is doing. There has even been talk of some sort of press release about open support for current direction.

Additional facts involve the bottom line. Under Tony both IMS and INDYCAR were said to be losing lots of money. Even though no one who spouts off has ever offered any sort of logical accounting of revenue versus expenses that has never stopped such know-it-alls from proclaiming losses over fifteen years of close to a billion smackers. Many of the same folks now say IMS is making money and INDYCAR could be profitable this year if not for additional expenditures to build INDYCAR insisted upon by Bernard. In other words, most admit it has turned around. Why would the family choose to lose money again?

Instead of positioning Tony George as he is; i.e., a passionate racing enthusiast who cares deeply about the sport and the institution of IMS, most panic-stricken whack jobs have convinced themselves that he is a bitter, megalomaniacal child angry that his previous overtures to buy the track/INDYCAR were rebuffed. He is perceived to be a guy desperate to control everything again. Of course most who think of Tony George in those terms are usually the same people who have planted themselves in 1995 and refuse to budge.

If Tony actually is as ignorant as his critics say he is, how could he possibly be smart enough to mastermind such a return to power?

Here is what I would do this week if I was a member of the Hulman-George family:

  1. Sign a contract extension with Randy Bernard at a higher salary.
  2. Inform Jeff Belskus that he will enthusiastically accept high dollar partnership deals crafted by INDYCAR even if it means risking offending outside parties used to having their backsides kissed.
  3. Start heavily promoting the ‘Most Important Race In History’ in media other than a billboard at 16th and Georgetown.

Start with those three things and we will all be OK.

February 23, 2011

INDYCAR: A Big Pile of Great News Tempered by a Pile of Something Stinky

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:57 pm

Tuesday was a very weird day that featured really high highs in terms of INDYCAR news, but really low lows in terms of one of the sleaziest practices in the sport.

We all enjoy good news best, and there was plenty. Las Vegas on October 16th was confirmed as the 300 mile season closer (wish it was 400) with a wrinkle. $5 million to any qualified (there will be a committee involved in determining who is qualified) outside driver who can come in and beat the INDYCAR stars. That is the kind of promotion that can blow up in managements face, but is also the kind of risk taking marketing the series has needed for a long while. With all the former series champions and 500 winners walking around with hats in their hand, there could be some viable takers. As an added incentive, anyone who buys a ticket to ANY other INDYCAR race this season gets freebies to Vegas. They want to fill the joint up. That type of promotion could well inspire someone somewhere in the country to buy tickets they might not have otherwise, improving attendance at other venues. That is common sense smart.

There was also great sponsorship news. Sarah Fisher’s little team that could signed Allison as an associate sponsor, which further strengthens that team in their funding efforts. Perhaps they should buy equipment from DeFerran Dragon and put Kanaan back to work. More on that in a moment.

Andretti Autosport found a new primary for Ryan Hunter-Reay as well as associate for Mike Conway with DHL. Between Sarah and Michael, two new blue chip sponsors are now in the fold.

The one item that killed the great news was the parting of Gil De Ferran and Tony Kanaan because Tony did not bring enough sponsorship with him. That kind of crap drives me crazy. The De Ferran Dragon team contains a former Penske 500 winner, Roger’s son Jay, and money guy Stephen Luczo. A few months ago they had to cut loose a potential star in Raphael Matos in order to hype their signing of Tony Kanaan for the entire season. What they did not tout as that particular turd was being shellacked was a deadline for additional sponsorship from the driver. What!? I know INDYCAR has come a long way, but not nearly far enough if that kind of cheeseball nonsense is occurring in teams like that. Now there is doubt the team will make it to the first race. How can Sarah Fisher make it work but a team with that pedigree cannot?

Kudos to Randy Bernard for attempting to minimize the doling of welfare, but efforts to improve the economic climate in the series obviously needs to continue.

February 21, 2011

How a Racing Star Is Born: Good Advice for INDYCAR

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:32 am

The INDYCAR Series is on a roll. Sponsorship dollars are up, as are ratings in demographic targets. Management is forward thinking and is taking chances that have positioned the series very well for the upcoming season. The series has a diverse group of drivers from all over the world. Theoretically that is great, but is it practical?

In other words, what about the winner of the Indianapolis 500? One driver who could very easily win it is Ryan Briscoe. He is very talented, relatively young, has sufficiently matured behind the wheel, and drives for one of the top two teams. But if he does will it matter?

In the Daytona 500, a 20 year old whose looks resemble Jimmy Kite in just his second Cup race won the big one. Trevor Bayne became a star. The fact he drives for an old school legacy team that has seen better days makes it even sweeter. His victory made the boring tag team nature of a wreck infested parade irrelevant.

INDYCAR should learn from that. Ryan Briscoe is really good, but would a victory by him tangibly enhance the stature of the series? If another foreigner won there could be compelling story lines; e.g., Helio winning number 4 or Tony Kanaan finally crossing the bricks first. But imagine what a young American could do driving for someone other than Penske or Ganassi. People often chide NASCAR for being contrived but their 500 today produced a new, young American hero. That is precisely what INDYCAR could use this year.

Racing season is underway!

 

February 18, 2011

The Indy Car ‘Split’ Is Alive And Well Thanks to Classless Fans Of a Twice Dead Adventure in Arrogance

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:45 am

I certainly wish they would get past it for a change.

Yesterday the parent company of IMS and INDYCAR, Hulman & Company, added four members to their Board of Directors. Three of the new members are highly successful leaders of blue chip organizations in a wide variety of market segments. The fourth member is Tony George, deposed leader of all things IMS and IRL.

Predictably, ignorant haters have begun slithering out of the woodwork to condemn this move and use it as an excuse to call Tony even more names and jerk their knees in infantile ways. This type of delinquent behavior is a sad commentary on a large group of crybabies that have the unmitigated gall to foolishly refer to themselves as racing fans.

Here are some prime examples harvested from Facebook commentary that are essentially clueless, mentally deficient pontifications from mostly children who lack maturity and/or sense:

Tony George Critics

Tom Ryan of California wrote ‘As long as he is only one vote out of 12 or so. But the damage has already been done……….’ Uh, what ‘damage’ is that, Tom? The 500 is preparing for its 100th anniversary. The series that occupied the grounds from ’79 to ’95 killed itself. Twice. They did that without any assistance from Tony George.

Bryon Mahler, an Ohioan who was a teenager when cart began their boycott opined ‘I wish I could be rehired to a job that I had already screwed up.’ Hmmm. Curious. The entity George founded is still turning wheels sixteen years later. The series it displaced killed itself off. Twice. Byron evidently has a whacko definition of ‘screwed up.’

Ben Robbins, a classless alcohol consuming hater, lowered the bar all the way: ‘Why? He’s a dick cheese. They should have never given that Nigga any money.’ Ben does not give his elementary school grade level. Clearly he is as ignorant as one can possibly get.

Youthful cart enthusiasts Unloading a Barrage of Stupidity for No Apparent Reason

Mike Rice, from, where else, Long Beach, at least articulated his dislike of Tony sans profanity: ‘I’m afraid of what damage he may do to a finally-recovering series that he (and his wing man Barnhart) had pretty much killed. What Tom Ryan said up there is the only way that this makes any sense – 1 vote with no more clout than any other. I’m very leery about him being in this position again. I’m all for second chances, I just remain leery because of what his vision (no pun intended) did to AOWR. cart costs and the politics of the whole thing were in fact out of control, no doubt. It just never should have been split in the first place. Hindsight being (hopefully) 20/20, I’ll hope for the best here.’ Mike, Tony is on the board of directors for Hulman & Company. I am in favor of waiting to see what happens. cart’s self immolation, twice, was the result of their own arrogant incompetence, not that of Tony. Tony started a series from nothing, and it is stronger than ever in year sixteen.

Youthful Jeremiah Davis says ‘we dont need this guy screwing up IMS or IndyCar anymore than he already did…’ Curious. Just how, precisely did he ‘screw up’ IMS or Indy Car? Another young-un by the name of Christine Beck also needlessly pushed the panic button by exclaiming ‘NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!’ With that sort of intelligent, witty commentary how can any of these moronic critics be wrong?

Mike Hurst, road racing enthusiast, says ‘IRL cars cost more than CART at the end and IRL had fewer American drivers. No tears for Tony. He damn near killed AOWR. Thank God for the ALMS.’ Actually, in actual fact, he SAVED AOWR from itself. For proof, one need look no further than cart, which killed itself. Twice. I wish people would stop confusing cart with INDYCAR. INDYCAR has always succeeded.

Another classy Hoosier who was also a teenager when cart began their boycott is Michael Williamson, who blurted ‘And he better keep his f’ing nose out of the IndyCar series! He ruined it and Randy Bernard has done a fantastic job running it! Randy’s accomplished more in about 1 year than Tony ever did! Randy = progression, Tony = regression, period! Remember, Brian Brainfart is Tony George man!’ Brainfart? How classy. I wish these youngsters knew more about the institution they seem so ready to condemn. All of these people need to learn some respect.

Give Peace a Chance

It has been my sincere hope that as INDYCAR and everyone in it as well as most real INDYCAR fans have bent over backward to accommodate the cart-centric, those fans return such dignity in the spirit of unity they have been given, regardless of deserving or undeserving anyone may be. But no. Whenever the slightest news leaks out involving Tony George, a knee jerk frenzy of abject stupidity from these immature children rains down like an avalanche of smelly dung. Every single time.

My frustration remains not only due to the classless ignorance of such people, but their unsportsmanlike hostility. The sport should try to purge itself of these imbeciles once and for all. The ‘split’ ended years ago. It is high time cart enthusiasts still lodged in 1995 grew up for a change.

February 17, 2011

Ready for 100 In Indianapolis?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:48 pm

Whenever anyone enters or exits the main hall at the new Indianapolis International Airport terminal, they are assaulted with a gigantic floor-to-ceiling bright yellow sign that proclaims, in letters larger than life, that Indianapolis is the home of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. To say that it is impressive is an understatement. It is impossible to miss. That means that every man, woman and child who walks in or out sees it.

One potentially ironic reality is that the 2012 NFL season may not even happen. That is a very real possibility. Pompous, divisive statements by owners such as Jerry Richardson (there is a definite reason the Carolina Panthers are the worst team in the league, and it starts at the top) do not make most optimistic.

In the same city, one local institution generates the economic impact equivalent of three Super Bowls EVERY YEAR. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is preparing for the 100th anniversary of the very first Indianapolis 500. As usual, any notion that it should be promoted seems lost on those in charge. Perhaps it is because they will already sell out the joint (or come very close again). They will already be on national television and get good ratings.

It seems odd. Wonder how much does it would cost to promote ‘The Most Important Race In History’ using a huge sign at the airport? I am impatient. My first 500 was the 50th anniversary. The 100th deserves a bigger celebration. These days it takes a lot to cut through the clutter.

 

February 16, 2011

A Celebration of Life for Tom Carnegie at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

The late Tom Carnegie was remembered in a ‘celebration of life’ at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum on Tuesday. Members of Tom’s family as well as Speedway brass and hundreds of fans who stopped by with less than 24 hours’ notice listened as peers, drivers and others, including Donald Davidson and Dave Calabro, paid poignant tributes to a man who was the last tangible link to the rescue of the track in the 40s by Tony Hulman. Davidson opined that the big qualification day crowds the track drew in the 50s and 60s were largely because of Tom Carnegie, who added drama to the world’s biggest theatre.

The track will never be the same without him. RIP, Tom.

 

February 14, 2011

Motor Sports In America: Time to REALLY Shake Thing Up, And Here’s How:

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Now that the INDYCAR Series is enjoying significant resurgence it is high time some unexpected yet major interesting disruption affected the fortunes of the sport. There is one that would be extremely compelling.

The one I favor seems within the realm of possibility. NASCAR has entered a sort of panic mode given falling attendance, ratings and sponsorship. That decline has to be humbling but is probably inevitable particularly given their PT Barnum approach to building popularity over the years. The third generation of Frances now in charge have been compared by many to the third generation of Hulmans. Their place on that particular branch of the France family tree has not meant they no longer feel entitled to control the entire sport completely on their terms. The France sense of entitlement emboldens Brian to want to control the sport with as much ferocity as Big Bill.

That is bound to cause conflict, particularly given strong personalities outside the France inner circle. Bruton Smith, for example, loves to stir pots. IMS leadership remains ultra-conservative, risk-averse and hopelessly devoted to counting beans. You have to wonder how many potentially great deals wither on a vine solely due to non-boat rocking politics. I just hope Randy Bernard does not get frustrated or fed up with idea squishing practices borne of the nature of IMS structure.

Logical conclusion: There must be conflict all through the sport to keep it on edge. The type of disruption that would be the most entertaining is a NASCAR ‘split.’ What would happen if Bruton Smith bought into INDYCAR, then the two formed their own ‘stock’ car series? Imagine the possibilities. Bruton has been on a track buying spree, and now owns eight really fine properties including a road course. NASCAR/ISC owns twelve and also bought three really nice tracks they decided to shut.

Using Bruton’s tracks as the basis for a new series, the new series and INDYCAR could run many on the same weekend giving tremendous bang for the fan buck. IMS could even be used as the new series ‘Daytona’ with a Brickyard event expanded to 500 miles. There are plenty of independent tracks that could hold joint races.

Perhaps that sort of outlandish idea is not possible because it would mean pointing a middle finger at NASCAR. My guess is that the NASCAR folks who side primarily with either ISC or SMI do not want to kill any golden geese, and the memory of what cart did to INDYCAR is probably still fresh in their minds.

The possibilities, however, remain fairly tantalizing.

February 11, 2011

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Lost Part Of Its Heart and Soul Today. RIP Tom Carnegie.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:02 pm

Tom Carnegie, one of the few remaining original links to Tony Hulman’s reclamation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1946, passed away this morning at age 91. He did his job better than anyone else could have for sixty one straight years.

The entire racing community and every single fan of the sport lost a cherished and treasured family member today. The sport now has a large void that no one will ever likely fill. His voice was synonymous with the drama that unfolded every year at Indy.

RIP, Tom. You were the very best.

 

February 10, 2011

Festivity Suggestions for the Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race in the 100th Anniversary Year

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Growing up in Indianapolis in May meant most Memorial Day weekends were spent at the track. My family always got there very early in the day so we could enjoy all the pre-race festivities. There were rarely lulls in the celebration. There were always live marching bands from all over the state and from other parts of the country. Parades of celebrities, queen’s court, military personnel, drivers and others were always well timed.

Although those components are still a part of the pre-race, where did all the live bands go? Is Jim Nabors even accompanied by a live band anymore? It has not been the same since before Tom Carnegie retired. Now it seems like one long gap after another with not as much continuity as in the past.

These days they have the big flag in turn one and folks holding up shiny cards, but the rest of the presentation has gone stale. Here are but a few suggestions to liven it up:

-Get live marching bands back into the show.

-Incorporate modern special effects.

-Bring back the cannons

-Keep the balloons

-Find someone other than Flo to sing God Bless America. Find a hip, modern star to do it. Let’s let Flo sit in the suite with Mari and have some cocktails.

-Get Indiana’s own Straight No Chaser to sing the National Anthem. They will nail it and it will be respectful and memorable.

-Incorporate a moving speech about the purpose of Memorial Day that rivals the late Jim Phillipe’s ‘Homage’ speech.

-A.J. Foyt driving the pace car with Al, Sr. and Rick Mears as the wingmen in trailing pace cars.

-Have a parade of former winners. Hell, have a parade of all former drivers.

I know there is talk of making the pre-race this year more memorable than at any time in history, and I sincerely hope they are serious.

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