Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 26, 2011

The Biggest Problem Faced By Indy Car’s Randy Bernard

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:14 am

Randy Bernard gave the Associated Press an interview a week after the much ballyhooed season closer in Las Vegas turned bad. The most troubling portion of the interview referenced hate mail accusing him of sacrificing safety for show business. He will not say what I am about to, but I will.

Anyone who writes hate mail to Randy Bernard pounds out their missives based on emotion and not facts. The vast majority of these meddling imbeciles have probably never even seen or watched an open wheel race lately. They have no business making themselves God.

Randy is deeply involved in crisis management and finding out what went wrong. It does not take a great deal of brain power for critics to pick out one aspect and harp on it like a bitching wife. It is not 1.5 mile ovals. It is not 34 cars. It is not Dallaras. What happened were the laws of physics taking a one-in-a-million turn.

My group of actual Indy Racing fans…you know, those of us who actually spend our money to attend Indy Car races far and wide several times every year…had a closed door meeting this week as well. What we fear is that the anti-oval bias of the current crop of owners and drivers will lead to a grotesquely unbalanced schedule of non-ovals heavy on the street festivals o’ speed. That is not acceptable. We want at least a 50/50 mix of ovals to non-ovals. Of the 50% ovals we want a mix of short, medium and large ovals. Fontana and Indy are good for large ovals (so would Michigan or even Pocono), and Loudon, Richmond, Iowa and others are good for short ovals. We damned sure should never lose Texas or Kentucky and getting Chicagoland back on track (originally built by IMS for Indy Cars) should be a priority.

Going back to Vegas is essential, but please NO STREET RACING there. Making the walls taller and coming up with a better retaining system would be ideal. There is enough street parading as it is, and between Long Beach, Baltimore and St. Pete you’re covered. Belle Isle is getting shoved down our throats.

My group of fans encourages Randy Bernard to stick to his guns with regard to an even split. We also encourage him not to listen much to the litany of circus clowns posing as racing fans who position themselves as having all the answers.

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16 Comments »

  1. Dear Defender:

    Have you lost your mind? Our beloved sport is under attack from every quarter after facing its greatest threat since the split and has been deemed an outcast in the motorsports world and your biggest concern is retaining oval tracks that have either been off the schedule for years or face cancellation for lack of attendance AND ratings? Let’s face it, you and I represent the aging and dwindling fan base who are still interested in American open wheel racing and we may be the last line who follow Indy Car as a serious sport and not as a side show in the wake of Dan Wheldon’s tragic and unnecessary death on a high banked speedway designed for NASCAR pack racing and not wheel to wheel competition (and not with 34 spec cars, mostly driven by ill qualified part timers with underfunded teams). Get real, Defender, and circle the wagons in support of our recovering from our deep loss and stop fanning the flames of dissention and hatred as you incessantly do with your rants. For somebody who can’t resist the temptation to revere your idol TG and his failed vision, while always bashing us who preferred CART’s mix of all four event disciplines (road/street/short ovals/superspeedways), you simply cannot grasp the new economic reality that this series cannot afford to run on largely empty ovals and still expect its sponsors, track promoters, TV partners and teams to survive.

    Editor’s Note: Randy showed in Las Vegas that he is a great promoter. Had the one-in-a-million accident not happened the opportunistic meddling that has characterized this past week would have been left in the wet dreams of the critics. Add the promotional savvy Bernard brings to the table along with folks like Eddie Gossage, and otherwise flaccid needle controlled at 16th & Georgetown begins to move. I can dig it. I don’t give a crap about anything cart did. They died, twice, years ago. Let’s continue to forge a new path.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — October 26, 2011 @ 1:16 am | Reply

  2. more broken backs please…..

    Editors Note: Well lookee here. Another classy comment from a Canadian cart ‘fan.’ How quaint.

    Comment by J.B. — October 26, 2011 @ 2:25 am | Reply

  3. Listen to your drum beating continue…Dude, if you cannot see how you’re using DW passing as a way to spin an agenda, I’m sorry. You’re lost.

    Editors Note: Just looking at the bigger picture. This sport is under assault from two factions:

    1. Blithering idiots who never watch Indy Car but feel compelled to slam it in the wake of the accident.

    2. Disenfranchised cart enthusiasts still stuck in 1995 using it to try and reconstitute what they think they had in 1995.

    Either way, I am trying to protect the future of what is actually a great sport.

    Comment by tom miles — October 26, 2011 @ 10:12 am | Reply

    • Dear editor – Who is “defending” the sport from the “disenfrachised CART enthusiasts”. last I checked NO ONE is watching oval races. Randy literally can’t give tickets away to keep grandstands from being empty. meanwhile, ratings for road course races are about the same as most oval races, and they are attended by more than 10 times the number of people. I want a return to the balance of CART, when they ran ovals appropriate for open wheel cars. Are you sure you aren’t a disenfranchise IRL enthusiast, pining for the days when Tony George was spending the family fortune to “win” at all costs, even if that meant running races that for the most part no one wanted to see?

      Editor’s Note: What you people want to see died. Twice. Get over it. It’s 2011. I want a highly diverse mix of ovals and non-ovals, and I like the direction Randy Bernard has. He has the luxury of not being influenced by the idiotic politics of the past. If you do not want to watch, go find something else to watch. By the way, when was the last Indy Car event you actually attended?

      Comment by Al — October 26, 2011 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  4. As an old oval guy who is not exactly pro-CART, I have to admit I have reservations about returning to the steeply banked oval in Vegas. While I also would like to see a 50/50 mix, it seems maybe INDYCAR might have to re-think which ovals are racy and safe. INDYCAR seems to run well on the flatter ovals while the steeply banked “NASCAR-tracks” have always been knuckle-biting wreckfests waiting to happen. I’d be a little hesitant to return to Chicagoland at this point. I’m not even sure about Texas anymore. I want oval racing, but tracks like Indy, Milwaukee, Nashville–sorry, I’m not knowledegable enough to remember all the tracks–flat tracks, might make for good racing. I want excitement and I want ovals, and I realize racing is a very dangerous sport regardless of the track, but maybe some caution is called for.

    I support Randy Bernard, I’m glad that Indycar and the drivers are communicating, and I want Indycar to be successful. I also think the 50/50 mix is still viable and that a street race in Vegas might be a good way to end the season.

    Comment by redcar — October 26, 2011 @ 11:58 am | Reply

  5. “Randy Bernard gave the Associated Press an interview a week after the much ballyhooed season closer in Las Vegas turned bad. The most troubling portion of the interview referenced hate mail accusing him of sacrificing safety for show business. He will not say what I am about to, but I will.”

    Actually, if you’re the fan of the sport that you claim to be, “most troubling portion of the interview” should have been that it was both necessary and resulting from the death of a driver. People in Randy’s position will always receive hate mail from unbalanced idiots; it’s nothing new. Frank Williams and the FIA received numerous death threats after Senna’s death; NASCAR officials and drivers did after Earnhardt’s.

    “Randy is deeply involved in crisis management and finding out what went wrong. It does not take a great deal of brain power for critics to pick out one aspect and harp on it like a bitching wife. It is not 1.5 mile ovals. It is not 34 cars. It is not Dallaras. What happened were the laws of physics taking a one-in-a-million turn.”

    None of the serious commentators that I’ve read over the past week have – to use your phrase – picked out one aspect and harped on it like a bitching wife. Rather, they’ve all cited a number of reasons. It may VERY well be 1.5-mile ovals with steep banking. It may VERY well be the number of cars that were on the track, together with possible levels of inexperience/rustiness in some of those cockpits. It may VERY well be the design and age of the chassis used, together with the engineering and aerodynamics to encourage pack racing. Lastly, the law of physics acted exactly as you’d expect: cars hit one another; wheels touched; cars flew; cars hit wall and/or fence. There was nothing particularly unusual about it, let alone “a one-in-a-million turn.”

    “My group of actual Indy Racing fans…you know, those of us who actually spend our money to attend Indy Car races far and wide several times every year…had a closed door meeting this week as well. What we fear is that the anti-oval bias of the current crop of owners and drivers will lead to a grotesquely unbalanced schedule of non-ovals heavy on the street festivals o’ speed. That is not acceptable.”

    Jesus, who died and declared you Ruler? Have you any idea how pathetically pretentious you sound when you talk about having held your own closed door meeting? The IRL is struggling to regain the ground lost over the past 16 years and right now they’ll be racing where they can be assured of getting a crowd and making some money. Some pompous fan group throwing a little hissy fit in the corner ain’t going to change that! By the way – in case you’ve not worked it out – the reason that owners and drivers are not always keen on adding ovals is that this type of venue is usually isolated from urban centres (so difficult to entice casual fans), is harder on the cars, generally cause bigger, more serious accidents which equates to bigger bills for the team owners (at a time when most of them are struggling for sponsorship) and, for the drivers, it’s more dangerous (presumably no embelishment needed.)

    “My group of fans encourages Randy Bernard to stick to his guns with regard to an even split. We also encourage him not to listen much to the litany of circus clowns posing as racing fans who position themselves as having all the answers.”

    You, my friend, are one of the clowns. You have no qualifications or experience and your “answers” seem utterly divorced from reality. You should try keeping quiet and let the adults sort things out…

    Editor’s Note: Thanks for the laugh, my friend. You’ve hit most of the stereotypes. I remain comfortable in the fact that I have been attending oval and non-oval Indy Car races longer than most comment contributors have been alive. I actually attend venues every year. Oh, and it is no longer known as ‘IRL.’ It is the IZOD Indy Car Series.

    Comment by Andrew — October 26, 2011 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

    • What? That’s your response? What stereotype am I hitting exactly?

      Editor’s Note: Wow. I’ll go slowly:

      -‘It may VERY well be 1.5-mile ovals with steep banking.’
      -‘It may VERY well be the number of cars that were on the track.’
      -‘together with possible levels of inexperience/rustiness in some of those cockpits.’
      -‘It may VERY well be the design and age of the chassis used.’
      -‘together with the engineering and aerodynamics to encourage pack racing.’
      -‘this type of venue is usually isolated from urban centres (so difficult to entice casual fans), is harder on the cars, generally cause bigger, more serious accidents which equates to bigger bills for the team owners.’
      -‘for the drivers, it’s more dangerous.’

      You’ve spent the past week arrogantly spewing against anyone who raises concerns with the Vegas race which includes a growing number of the IRL’s senior drivers, as well as some very respected people in the motorsport industry.

      Editor’s Note: As far as I am concerned, the majority of those you mention can go pound sand. Most of them are stuck in 1995 and refuse to budge anyway, even after being bailed out. I do not want them in my sport if they are unwilling to take the risks of a diverse schedule. If they want to go road racing there are alternatives.

      Yet YOU’VE still go the gall to proclaim from on high that these people are wrong, traitors, turncoats, imbeciles, and that none of the factors they raise could have had anything to do with the disaster.

      Editor’s Note: Disaster? Pull up your panties. A popular driver got killed doing something that could have killed him at any time. I feel as badly as anyone that Dan Wheldon’s time came up in Vegas, but real racers are those who would have gladly taken the same risk at any time on any track.

      So you’ve attended a lot of races? Big deal! So have a lot of other people and it proves nothing; nor does it qualify you for an opinion on every element of the sport. You don’t know all the contributing factors that came together to cause Wheldon’s death; nor do I. We’re not experts. Leave the theorising to those who are.

      Editor’s Note: Clearly I suppose I should take my Indy Car advice from an obviously angry Euro from across an ocean who has probably been no closer than a continent to any Indy Car race. LOL

      If it’s no longer known as the IRL why have you not updated your URL?

      Editor’s Note: Laziness, mostly. The skin is correct, however.

      Comment by Andrew — October 26, 2011 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

      • I’m not sure why you’re so embittered and feel so threatened but you argue like a child. To say that people raising questions about Vegas can “go pound sand” is an indication of how sadly out of touch you are. These comments have come from people who currently race in the Series and/or used to, as well as those who have been involved at some point in the lives. Each and every one of them is entitled to their opinion and those opinions carry significantly more weight than yours. As far as the “diverse schedule” goes, none of the serious commentators are suggesting that ovals be scrapped. I’m aware of a few isolated, knee-jerk calls for this but IndyCar has run on ovals for decades and I see no sane reason for that to come to an abrupt end. I do, however, believe that the Series should ensure that their investigation includes an analysis of the suitability of some of these venues; i.e. whether or not the shorter, steeper-banked tracks should be on the schedule, as well as the field size that can be comfortably run.

        So, you feel that Wheldon’s death was an unfortunate job hazard. Words fail me… Look: motorsport is dangerous. Everyone knows this. The responsibility of the organisers of these events is to ensure that all reasonable steps to ensure their drivers’ safety have been adhered to. Valid questions about the way in which IndyCar is run have been raised and these should be investigated. I’m not suggesting a witchhunt or that the Series be shut down, rather that any lessons that could possibly prevent future accidents of this nature be identified and implemented. If you’re unable to get your head around this then you’re no better than the people who watch motor sport in the hope of seeing a major wreck.

        Lastly, I’m not “an obviously angry Euro.” Even if I were, I fail to see why my opinion is less valid than yours. And, for the record, I’ve attended numerous Champ/IndyCar races over the years.

        Editor’s Note: Look, you’re still talking in circles, you are way too defensive (like most diehard cart enthusiasts) and are still far too quick to tell me how I yu believe I feel for me to be comfortable with calling you an objective commentor. Indy Car has led the way in the motorsports industry with regard to safety for many decades, and having angst about future evolution is not warranted.

        Comment by Andrew — October 27, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  6. You could not be more wrong. Indy Cars have no place on high banked oval tracks and there is no formula under which they will be safe. Further, circling in a pack (you can’t really call that racing) is entertaining to a tiny minority of vocal Indy Car fans, but actually stands in the way of the sport growing by adding addition racing fans. As for your comment about no street racing, if they could reclaim the course Champ Car ran in 2007, it would be much better than any race they could run at LVMS. I was there, and that was one of the best races I have seen in my life. Finally, you point to Las Vegas as a sign that randy is a master promoter, but in spite of giving away upwards of 75,000 tickets, he could only get 15,000 people max to show up on race day, and the ratings were low, until viewers who heard of the crash tuned in to see what happened.

    So unless you want to guarantee a fresh corpse every Sunday, it would appear that high banked ovals do not work on any level, in spite of what you want to see personally.

    Editor’s Note: Do you think your ilk could ever have a discussion about racing without hysterical ignorance getting in the way? I am sick and tired of disenfranchised cart enthusiasts positioning a series that died twice as a model. Between that pompous pontificating and factually incorrect babble you people make the entire sport look bad.

    Comment by Al — October 26, 2011 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  7. Question. Who said this?
    “It is dangerous, and you can die doing it, but the way I look at it, shoot, you can get hurt doing about anything — walking down the steps, driving down the road. Yeah, it’s more apt to happen in what we do, but I was raised [in this sport].”
    Answer.
    J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C., PBR Bull Rider. He said this sometime after the death of Glen Keeley, a PBR rider killed in March, 2000.

    Randy has seen this before, but I’m sure that didn’t make it any easier the second time. Both times he lost one of his guys, one of his friends. It was obvious during the press conference that he was devastated.

    As a result of the 2000 PBR fatality Randy convened a group of bullriders, officials, medical experts and other interested people. Out of this, they came up with, among other things, helmets and chest protectors, which made the sport much safer. I have faith in Randy and I think the same thing will happen for Indycar.

    It appears that there has been seven fatalities among bull riders since 1994. I haven’t heard a great clamoring to ban bull riding or change it into an unrecognizable sport. I think as soon as people start to think, based on facts and not emotionally, you will not hear people calling for these things in auto racing.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — October 27, 2011 @ 5:01 am | Reply

  8. I think we are going to see a split within a league. We already have it to a degree, with some drivers only driving ovals and others only road courses. Most of the ride buyers do not have experience in American oval wheel racing on ovals and it showed at Las Vegas. Many of us, if not most, refuse to see American oval racing and its traditions die because of the influx of ride buyers who grew up driving on mainly road courses. Inexperienced drivers was the cause of the Las Vegas race, not the track, not the oval, not the car. If Randy wants to fix the “problem”, it starts with getting more American drivers with oval racing experience, and putting an end to the ride buying.

    Comment by Bob F. — October 27, 2011 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

    • “Ride buyers” caused the Vegas wreck? Wow. Could you outline exactly how that is the case? Is it because Wade Cunningham was the one who spun, touching the whole thing off? He’s a ride buyer because he had to bring some sponsorship (gasp! Geez, something that only the likes of Danica, Graham, Servia and about 6 other perfectly capable drivers have had to do), ignoring the fact that he won an Indy Lights championship, has won 8 career Lights races (admittedly, out of 64 starts, but he did win 6 of those races on ovals, which I think displays that he largely knows what he’s doing), and finished a more than competent 7th at the previous race at Kentucky? Or are you going to lay blame on James Hinchcliffe somehow, ignoring the fact that he won the Rookie of the Year battle with one less start, and has been one of the best young talents in IndyCar in years? Or are you blaming this on Bia, Pippa, EJ, Charlie Kimball, Jay Howard or James Jakes, or some other “non-American oval track driver”, even though the accident was most definitely none of their fault?

      Don’t let the actual facts get in the way of the argument you’re trying to put forward.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — October 27, 2011 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

      • Did you watch the laps that were run? Did you hear the driver comments about drivers being reckless? Perhaps more experienced drivers would not have been “racing so hard” so early. Then we might not have had the level of damaged cars we did. Did you hear any of the driver comments right after the accident? They were being polite but they understood the problem.

        Speedgeek, you would be scared out there too if a not insignificant number of drivers had little oval racing experience and were driving that close that fast. I’m sure that is a fact.

        Comment by Bob F. — October 27, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

      • Dude, from what I saw last Sunday, just about EVERYBODY was being a little crazy, with the notable exceptions of TK (who was leading), Servia (who was happy in 2nd), Dario and Dixon (dropping like stones through the field) and Wheldon (who’d disposed of 10 backmarkers already, but only because those cars were slow, not because he was being reckless). I distinctly remember several close calls before lap 11, including (and I am going entirely off my memory here, because footage of anything but the crash itself is basically impossible to find) an instance of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Tagliani touching wheels on the backstraight and almost causing a similar accident on about lap 8 or 9. Last I checked, those guys have a couple hundred IndyCar starts between them, and one of them has even got a couple oval wins to his name. And they were not the only ones dicing around and doing that crap at that stupid early part of the race. ‘Tis true that two rookies touched off the fateful wreck, but let’s just say that Cunningham saves it, doesn’t spin and the race continues. Who’s to say that Tomas Scheckter, Paul Tracy, Davey Hamilton or Buddy Rice (or any of the other 20+ drivers I haven’t name dropped yet) doesn’t cause a big one about 3 laps later, just by having a miscommunication with his spotter and winding up on the same piece of asphalt at the same time as somebody else? When 34 cars are covered by about 3 football fields, such a thing does not sound all that far fetched.

        All’s I’m saying is that you’re pointing to the fact that there were a bunch of rookies in the race (which, what’s your solution? No more rookies, ever?) and the fact that a bunch of the lesser experienced rookies were foreign (which, can you tell me definitively that no theoretical USAC graduate rookie wouldn’t have made the same moves that any of the rookies in question made? Or the moves that some of the veterans were making? Because I don’t think that a million laps at Terre Haute or Kokomo would quite prep you for what was going on at Vegas.), and saying, “welp, two plus two equals four. Case closed.” It wasn’t quite that simple.

        Comment by The Speedgeek — October 28, 2011 @ 1:30 am

  9. Disciple, Have you figured out yet that you are fighting a losing battle?

    Editor’s Note: When fighting arrogance and ignorance, it often is. 😉

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2011 @ 6:03 am | Reply

  10. So if the schedule in 2013 is, say, three ovals (IMS, Texas and wherever), you’d go to only those races?

    Editor’s Note: Nope. Barber has been a mainstay on my calendar since the first test there. I also make it to St. Pete more often than not.

    Comment by A fan — October 31, 2011 @ 5:09 pm | Reply


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