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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3 Comments »

  1. There’s an old saying; ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’

    Tony George had his chance to lead. While, at least in your opinion, he did an excellent job with IMS, his leadership (and I use the term loosely) of the IICS made hiring Randy Bernard (or someone like him) an imperative. You frequently mention series sponsorship levels rising to $80 million +; under whose watch did series sponsorship decline occur? You tout a ‘40% increase in target demographics’; again, who oversaw the decline of demographic ratings to levels below Bull Riding, the Tour de France, and World Cup Soccer? Many of us are looking forward to 2012; new chassis, multiple aero packages, multiple engine suppliers. Yet, under who’s hand did we see 7 years of Dallara Honda and, more importantly, no apparent effort to find something different. Answer: Anton Hulman George.

    That being said, give credit where credit is do. TG ran the Speedway quite well. He put money into facility upgrades. He brought F1 and Moto GP to the track. He brought in NASCAR (okay, I’m not a fan of that last one, but some are.). When Tony ran the Speedway, and focused solely on being a track owner and promoter (and not a car owner or series president), he did quite well…and so, for that matter, did Open Wheel Racing.

    Randy Bernard appears to have the series going in the right direction. Television ratings are up; low, but up. He’s reaching more of the target demographics that the series needs to draw new sponsors, both for the series, and for individual teams; again, 40% more than diddly squat isn’t a huge number, but 40% more diddly squat is better than nothing. If current plans hold true, we will have multiple aero packages and engine suppliers for the 2012 season; yes, none have turned a wheel yet, but at least there are plans. He said no more to ISC, and fostered a partnership with Bruton Smith at SMI; this may not work out as we hoped but at least, to me, we’re SMI’s partner, rather than ISC’s little b#@ch. All this has occurred under Randy Bernard’s leadership.

    Tin hat conspiracy or not, the last thing the SERIES needs at this time is Tony George trying to interject his way back into it. Tony George ran the Speedway well. AOWR needs him to do that. He had the chance to lead the series; look where that got us. He needs to now follow the lead of Randy Bernard. If he can’t, then he needs to get the hell out of the way.

    Comment by Steven Kornya — February 28, 2011 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  2. I will say this as I have said all along: Tony George is a perfect fit in one role and one role only. That is as the “owner” of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has his grandfather’s sense of what needs to be done with the physical plant at 16th and Georgetown. He may be a train wreck at public relations, and a hazard as a spokesman for anything, but he KNOWS the facility. You may disagree with his adding Formula 1 or NASCAR to the IMS equation; You may not like that under his watch, the old “Snakepit” went away; what you CAN’T say is that the Speedway itself has in any way deteriorated. I have not attended a race since 1987, but I’m going back this year. I can tell from the visuals I have seen on television since 1989, I will be amazed at the upgrades. In that respect (and that respect alone,) he has fulfilled his grandfather’s legacy. Friends have already told me about a lot of the subtle changes (which won’t seem so subtle to me,) that have taken place. I can’t wait.

    Let Randy Bernard handle the series and the public relations. Let Tony handle the Speedway without having to support the series and a racing team out of the same pockets. And, Tony, since Randy wants the track records gone, (as do millions of race fans everywhere,) do what you can (as steward of the Speedway,) to make that happen as quickly and safely as possible. I think everyone might be surprised and pleased at the result.

    Comment by SkipinSC — March 3, 2011 @ 2:56 am | Reply

    • You are 100% correct, SkipinSC, you will be amazed by the changes since your last race in 1987. I’ve been attending since 1996 (no politics involved there, just the first year I was physically able to make it to the 500), and it has evolved into a whole different place in those 15 years. You’re going to like it.

      There is no way anybody can call Tony George on anything that he’s done with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, because every change he’s made has been for the better. Now, the IndyCar series and Open Wheel racing as a whole…that’s 100% debatable, but he has been a fantastic source of change and improvement at 16th Street and Georgetown Road.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — March 3, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | Reply


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