Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 31, 2012

IndyCar’s Termination of Randy Bernard-The Backlash Continues

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:38 pm

Marshall Pruett wrote an excellently crafted article on Speed TV’s site (and it’s just part I) that neutrally reviewed all of the critical events over the past few years that led to the embarrassing, ham-fisted firing of Randy Bernard as CEO of IndyCar this week. All racing enthusiasts are highly encouraged to read it to draw your own conclusions, as I have.

IndyCar Owners

Here are the problems for me, given the beautifully expressed scenarios laid out by Pruett:

  1. It is difficult to tell which group is more dysfunctional and self-interested at the expense of anything else, especially the cultivation of fans — the corporate inbred Hulman-George ‘braintrust’ or current IndyCar owners and many of their whiny drivers.
  2. The owners (and by extension many of the drivers) went over Bernard’s head to whine to Belskus. That should have never been allowed to happen regardless of the circumstance. That behavior is the exact same behavior that ran cart into the ground, twice, along with a litany of failed CEOs along the way. What the series has always needed is a Big Bill France-like dictator who maintains, with force if necessary, a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. cart would never have allowed such a leader. Too many egos, and they talk out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand they raise holy hell about cost overruns for parts, but when Firestone doubles the price for tires they do not bat an eye. When Randy Bernard strikes a much more favorable deal financially and from a marketing standpoint with another manufacturer, they form a lynch mob.
  3. An even bigger hurdle is the conservative, out of touch nature of IMS/Hulman & Company. No one in the organization has ANY testicles. Especially Jeff Belskus, who is so afraid of alienating anyone that he remains silent most of the time on any issue and when he does speak rivals Joe Heitzler for use of buzzwords, only without the personality. That lack of committed direction is what leads to the awkwardness of things like firing the CEO.

Baking Powder Magnate

Who in their right mind would ever take such a job given current owners and ‘the family?’ Kudos to Josie who went way out of the box to grab a marketing expert who built a lucrative sport with millions of fans from essentially rodeo scraps to try and do the same thing for IndyCar. Too bad neither of the groups of inmates running the asylum recognize that need with any degree of intelligence or foresight. That is exactly why ratings stink and aluminum shines.

But read Pruett’s article and decide for yourself. The nonsense that is occurring today parallels the early 90s, and both sides still appear to be too stupid to solve the problems.


October 28, 2012

An Open Letter to IndyCar, IMS and The People Calling The Shots

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:29 pm

IndyCar Business Plan

I understand you have a bottom line and that you want to operate all of your businesses is the black. None of that will ever happen if you do not cultivate and nurture existing and potential customers who will purchase your product. It does not take the Boston Consulting Group to tell you that. The facts that speak most loudly involve racing fans that have simply stopped showing up for races and watching them on television. Over the long history of open wheel racing and particularly since the late 1970s the consistent and abject stupidity of the collective dysfunctional ‘leadership’ of the sport has now managed to alienate the last possible group of dedicated (and money spending) racing fans.

I do not know why you have separated with Randy Bernard. It is the sincere hope of those of us who still care that you will offer fans who have remained loyal despite an incredible amount of abuse

So Long, Breath of Fresh Air

some sort of explanation that does not involve buzzwords, lip service jargon, arrogance or most likely the deafening silence that usually accompanies decisions that seem to defy any form of common sense.

In Randy Bernard you had an enthusiastic outsider widely known as a tireless, driven individual bent on taking IndyCar to high levels never previously imagined. Given the mess he was handed along with the encumbrances that characterize working with the IMS collective, I believe his performance was spectacular, and his five year mission is unfinished. Instead we have another logic-defying change at the top with no explanation. I really admired his fresh, outside point of view and aggressive moves to move the sport back to the mainstream, regardless of toes (or egos) that may have been stepped on along the way.

What have you accomplished instead? A regressive public relations nightmare from which you may now never recover. Your actions are consistently disgraceful. Loyal racing fans simply do not deserve such abuse.

It is my hope that you fully explain this action and what led to this decision. It is fair to say that the very future of the sport absolutely depends on it. It really does not matter what the reason is, whether it is owner pressure, internal infighting, manufacturer pressure or whatever. Explain yourselves for once. We can handle it. If you do not begin treating the people that keep you in business with simple respect the only thing you can reasonably expect is a lot more shiny aluminum and test pattern level television ratings.

Why do you people make it so difficult for average people to just be fans?

October 23, 2012

IndyCar Silly Season Keeps Getting Sillier

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:43 pm

The one thing on which any and everyone who is even remotely a racing fan can count when the subject is IndyCar or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is that the family in charge will always make the most inexplicably stupid and counterproductive decision they possibly can each and every time.

Given all the tweeting and rumor mongering by gossipy writers over the whole Tony George effort to regain control, the obsessed remain glued to social and other media. Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star offered three additional rumors, all from ‘well placed and informed’ individuals. His fence post gossip choices:

  1. Anton gets control by Friday.
  2. Randy Bernard is out.
  3. Ownership and direction remains unchanged.

What is the most stupid, counterproductive thing that could possibly occur? Tony George back in charge and Randy Bernard out. So that is likely what will happen. There would be flowery press releases offering sound bites with no substance, and zero explanation from anyone.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the fan base that has not already been alienated would not get left out, and would likely finally leave leaving a few hundred mostly older demos to watch and attend all the races.

Look, I admire and respect Tony George and deeply feel as though he should be the guy in charge of IMS. I firmly believe he was born to do that job. The reality of any possibility, however remote, that he could return to the helm of IndyCar has a lot of folks spooked. We can always count on idiots to be idiots; e.g., the delinquent shrieking on Randy Bernard’s Facebook page about the ‘imbecile,’ ‘FTG,’ ‘moron,’ etc., and other childish epithet tossing. The problem in real life is that most racing enthusiasts have the same sentiment, even though most are more mature than acting like 2nd graders on the Internet. Many others have deluded themselves into a belief that Tony George is the anti-Christ.

None of that ever matters to either IMS or IndyCar. They have a long history of saying fans mean everything but acting just the opposite, usually with no explanation or discernible logic. Why should this be any different? The one thing that could kill the sport once and for all is for Tony to end up back in charge. Not because he would do a bad job, but because of the baggage. He could be anointed the second coming of Christ and not make a dent. 99% of the racing press have pilloried the guy for nearly 30 years, and many times it gets personal. That is why the Tony takeover is so plausible, simply because it would defy all sense.

This is the best silly season in history.

October 19, 2012

The Irrational Fear of Tony George

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:28 pm

Whenever the subject of Tony George arises in casual conversation with others who refer to themselves as racing fans, the tone often changes. Hysteria often results. I have never fully understood such willful mental and emotional retardation, much less the accompanying squealing.

These folks are often enthusiasts of the twice bygone cart era. They simply dismiss 85 other years of Indy Car racing that both preceded and followed their 16 years in the evolutionary spotlight. Usually those are the worst excuses for fans in the long history of racing. They continually pound the drum for what they stupidly claim was the highest of high points for Indy Car and blame all of their failures on Tony George without the benefit of any sort of mirror much less actual history.

What anyone who calls themselves a fan must come to grips with is the fact that the Hulman-George family will probably be involved with the management of the sport for the rest of their lifetimes. I am on record as saying Tony George running IMS would be a great thing. He successfully channels his grandfather. IndyCar, as a subsidiary of IMS, should have autonomous management that is separate. In that regard Randy Bernard is well beyond adequate. My biggest frustration is that he is charged with doing a very important job with various limbs tied behind his back.

The one thing I would never favor is placing any ownership group in charge. That would be like putting Jerry Sandusky in charge of Chuck E Cheese. But what if Tony George suddenly ended up in charge? Does anyone really believe he would be the one calling shots? What if he appointed Zak Brown as CEO? Many Tony-haters actually respect Brown.

Here is my advice for those who despise Tony George for whatever reason: Grow up. Life is too short and the sport deserves responsible fans. The remote possibility that he could actually pull off a purchase remains unlikely. Indy Car is not failing, nor will it if Tony George manages to buy it. Unless it is a group of owners. At that point the cancer becomes terminal.

October 12, 2012

The Indy Racing Destiny of Tony George

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:29 pm

Rumors of an Indy Car purchase offer spearheaded by Tony George have failed to subside, and the Sports Business Journal added a little more granularity on Friday. Somewhere in the seven figures. He has solicited help from owners and Zak Brown. Predictably, George neither confirmed nor denied. IMS/Hulman & Company, on the other hand, vigorously denied the rumor again, emphatically stating that although unsolicited offers arrive a lot the series is NOT for sale.

If there is any justice in the Indy Car world after years of strife that mostly began after a 1978 plane crash claimed the lives of nine USAC officials, here is one notion of things that should happen:

-Tony George should never again get into the series ownership business. It did not work once, and he has even less support from the parent company now. And can anyone imagine the destructive reaction from the same obsessed cart-centric idiots who have tried in earnest to destroy the sport since 1996?

-The one job for which Tony George is perfectly suited is running IMS. That, I believe, is his destiny. When he did that IMS became an even more magnificent showplace. Like his grandfather, he gets it. It is something he was born to do, and he ought to be allowed to do it. Mari is not getting younger, and it is Tony’s time.

-The next set of firings probably ought to be his sisters. It is my belief they are collectively far more guilty of the stereotype that led to Tony’s departure than was Tony.

-Allow Randy Bernard to do his job. As I sit in New York ads for the PBR at Madison Square Garden are abundant, and they will sell it out. And be on national television. All this from a sport that was largely concocted recently. That is how Randy Bernard rolled up until he arrived in Indy. Give the guy a raise and get out of his way.

The naysayers, particularly those who remain willfully impaired but no less obsessed, will inevitably chide Indy Car for being on the verge of oblivion, but that small group has appeared increasingly foolish as each of the past sixteen years have passed. The reality is small advancement in multiple areas. Who would have thought two years ago that Indy Car would ever return to Pocono?

Is it not time for Indy Car fate to take a different direction?

October 8, 2012

The Problem With Some Of The Racing Folk Who ‘Use’ Twitter

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:59 am

Over the weekend NASCAR/racing reporter Jenna Fryer sent out a tweet from Talladega that re-stirred the mostly settled pot over the supposed ‘Indy Car for sale and Randy Bernard out’ rumors. That rumor last week sent most reporting entities, most of whom being too lazy/uninclined/untalented enough to actually look into it, into a rumor propagation frenzy that would make an old ladies bridge club proud. All she typed was ‘What I learned today, re: IndyCar: Where there’s smoke there is fire.’

There is the primary problem with Twitter. You have someone who is supposedly a reporter acting like the queen of the seventh grade cheerleading squad. If that tweet had been delivered from her mouth, it no doubt would have been sing-songy, and preceded with something like ‘I know something you don’t….ha ha ha ha haaa ha.’ When I was in the seventh grade we had a word for those kind of girls, and it began with the letter ‘C.’ That’s right. We thought they were CRAZY.

An even deeper question might involve why a NASCAR writer at one of their signature tracks after the Indy Car season has ended is rumor mongering like that to begin with. Are there not enough actual NASCAR stories to tell? If Jenna actually is a writer or reporter and sees fire in smoke, why would she not write what she ‘knows’ with appropriate attribution? You know, things real reporters actually do. Can you imagine what might have happened had Woodward and Bernstein tweeted instead of actually investigating then pounding out exactly what they uncovered for hours on their Smith Coronas?

Don’t be confused by the message. If something actually does exist, despite on the record denials by the people who own the series and the owners supposedly involved, why can’t someone supposedly tuned in actually write about it after thoroughly investigating? It’s a lot easier, I suppose, to rumor monger. It is just not very mature or professional. My message/challenge to supposedly professional writers who have attached themselves to this rumor, a rumor with no more actual substance than the average fart, is to go investigate then present facts. Leave the cutesy seventh grade behavior for seventh graders.

October 1, 2012

The 2013 IndyCar Schedule Is Out

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:10 pm

Randy Bernard stumbled through the 2013 IndyCar schedule on Wind Tunnel Sunday night. Word was everyone wanted 19 events. We got 19. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s actually only 16 venues. Three street circuits will have races on both weekend days. And yes, there is still no balance. The schedule is skewed 65% non-oval; 35% oval. And they are mostly smushed together.

The absolute best news of the entire performance was the official announcement of the return of Pocono, creating a return to the Triple Crown. Problem there is it’s not a real Triple Crown because Pocono will only be 400 miles long. So it’s more like a 2.75 Crown. That was a bend-over for ABC.

The absolute most ill-advised, mind-boggling stupid thing on the schedule is a month+ gap between September and October, right in the heart of the season. Given the NFL, most every sports fan will forget about racing during that gap.

The most genuinely sleazy and suspicious aspect of the announcement unrelated to IndyCar management was the timing of a Sports Business Journal story that claimed Tony George and owners enlisting Zak Brown and pooling some funding to buy the series.  The only official retort is a press release from IMS saying the series is not for sale, there have been no negotiations and no one has even asked, and denials from at least three owners that they are involved.

I feel sorry for IndyCar. There are still far too many obsessed children who stop at nothing to destroy the series. Despite the relative goofiness of the schedule, I know of five or six events I will make next season, plus Pocono. Just have to get through winter first.

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