IndyCar's China race, Izod title sponsorship in jeopardy

June 11, 2012
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The IndyCar Series still has a race on its calendar for Aug. 19 in Qingdao, China, but the race is anything but a certainty.

According to sources inside the series, race promoter, Yinxin Investment, has not paid a multi-million dollar sanctioning fee owed to IndyCar, little marketing for the race has been done, tickets are not on sale and current Qingdao government officials are waffling on whether or not they’ll be able to hold the inaugural street race this year.

While a race in such a far-away place might seem relatively insignificant to a U.S.-based series, the loss of such a race would mean the loss of considerable exposure in an un-tapped market. Qingdao is a city of 8.7 million along the East China Sea. But there's more at stake than exposure in that market.

If the race is cancelled, the IndyCar Series will run afoul of its agreement with title sponsor, Izod. That deal mandates the series has 16 races. IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard has recently acknowledged issues with the race in China, and while he said there's a back-up plan, he hasn’t said what alternatives might be.

Some have speculated the series will try to hold a replacement race at Road America in Wisconsin or even on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Any of those solutions would seem to have problems. First, the series is already set to race in Milwaukee later this month, just a little more than an hour from the Road America course in Elkhart Lake. Two races in such close proximity would likely hurt attendance at both events.

IMS and IndyCar officials have been resistant to holding an IndyCar race on the Speedway road course and timing could be difficult with a NASCAR and MotoGP race already on the slate. Either road course or oval at Lucas Oil Raceway is likely too small for the open-wheel cars.

There's also talk that any replacement race might be pushed to the end of the season to give the new venue time to plan and promote the event. The problem with that is promoters for an IndyCar Series race on Sept. 15 in Fontana, Calif. have already been promoting their event as the series finale.

The race in China isn’t Bernard’s only problem. Izod, the lifestyle and clothing division of Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., has slowed its promotion of the series this year and appears to be looking to get out of the six-year deal three years before it expires.

According to several IndyCar sponsors, league officials have been approaching current sponsors about picking up the title sponsorship deal starting next season.

  • Oh Randy!?
    I've heard rumblings about China and IZOD deals falling apart and couldn't be worse timing for RandyBoy on top of the Belle Isle debacle. If all of this falls through then good ridence Cowboy RB
    • Terry Angstadt
      The Hulman family might want to bring Terry Angstadt back into the mix. Its only taken Randy 6 months to put ICS on the brink of collapse with TA holding it up....great work Randy, you Rodeo Clown!
    • Fold it up
      Honestly, why have a series at all? It is a disaster. Call it off and start anew. Small series of three, four oval races, and the Indy 500. See about maybe buyign Gateway and Pikes Peak. Fix them up. Something along those lines. Run the ladder series cars on race weekends. Make it about Indy.

      The sport just cannot sustain a quote/unquote "series" anymore like other sports.

      It does not mean the Indy 500 has to be a stand alone. But things seem to dictate a small, third-tier, schedule of a race here and there with a fairly decent purse and a deal where if you buy tickets to that event, you get either free tickets or sustantially--discounted tickets to the Indy 500. Maybe even throw some package deals together for travel, motel, etcetera...doesn't have to a grandise thing. Just make it work.

      Come to Gateway and watch the big cars in the 300-miler Saturday night, get two Southeast Vista tickets half-price to next year's Indy 500. Likewise, Pikes, Phoenix, whatever....

      The sport is too expensive and irrelevant. A new IndyCar should cost $200,000 to $250,000 tops, with motor. Maybe even less. A budget of $500,000 to a million for the first-class teams should get you a four, five race schedule that is not so much a "series" as we know it today, but support schedule of decent paying races that allow teams to at leats break even and go for broke at Indy where the purse must be the highest possible so that a small team that starts 33rd, lasts 35 laps before the motor blows and finishes 31st, can make enough money in that one race to have paid for the entry, the race, and tow or three more later that summer.

      It can be done. Everyone has to think SMALLER, and throw away the notion this sport can sustain a series as we know it. Those days are long gone.

    • VIBRANT!
      This is swell news! Validates everything we've known for months now.

      Too bad the geniuses at 16th and Jonestown jettisoned the Australia race by inflating the sanction fee so much that the government over there said that the IRL wasn't worth it. Now you got nothing...

      I'm with Burl, flush this thing....did ya see the attendance at Texas? Pitiful. I can't wait for TV ratings to come out. AND, Milwaukee tix sales are virtually non existent. All us haters knew once you change the sanction fee model from pay to FREE it would turn the series upside down. This too will be pinned on Rodeo boy.

      What a refreshing vibrant direction this series is heading.
    • There is no interest... this sport outside a very small group of people, numbering 250,000 or less. That excludes the Indy 500, which is a heritage event. It still has some relevance on the American sporting scene, mainly do to how old it is.

      Finish 2012. Call it done. Do not waste anymore money of something so few care about.

      Not even my IndyCar racing buddies I go to the "500" with watched Texas Saturday. That use to be must-watch TV.

      One of them is turned off by all the foreigners. Another buddy onloy watched Indy anyhow but used to watch Texas, at least, because it was such a show. Now we have even lost guys like that.

      Close up shop. Cut losses. Call it what it is. Irrelevant. Resonates with the public about as much as Dario. In other words, whoc ares?
    • Ropin' Randy's Last Season
      I felt Ropin' Randy earned his termination papers with the track fiasco in Detroit. You would think the IndyCar safety team (if they have one) would have carefully checked the Bell Isle track as it hadn't been raced on in years. But no, they didn't and the track fell apart on live TV?! At least no drivers or spectators were hurt by flying debris.

      The Texas race while somewhat fun to watch was really sad with the lack of attendance.
      And now the China race is going south?

      Burl's scenario - while definitely not what IndyCar wants to consider - makes a lot of financial sense for the future of the series. Like it or not, IndyCar has de-evolved into a niche series. Maybe one slight notch higher than the Rolex series (and not for long).

      Let's face it, the gear-heads of my generation 50yrs+ are not being replaced by fans who appreciate American open wheel racing. They've either gone to NeckCAR or don't care about racing at all.

      Somewhat like the popularity of horse racing and boxing now being well past their time. Sad but appears to be more true with every passing year.
    • Reality Check
      As usual, *yawn* the haters including Anthony can only make these remarks based on negative ASSUMPTIONS. There is no factual evidence in this article that Izod is pulling out. Journalists say "sources" to create a story which the lemmings pounce on. Why doesn't the journalist get a reason as to why Izod is drawing back. Maybe they don't know how to fully expose themselves with racing. Its a dual partnership, not a Izod signs this and sees immediate spike in sales. Yep, detroit was a fiasco. And that is Randy's fault how? Roger Penske and GM are the organizers. The league still got paid and managed to have a race. Why are there no comments about the great race in Texas over the weekend? Oh yeah because then it would make all of these stupid comments even more invalid. Why not talk about a great Indy 500? One that even Nascar folks were saying was the best race in years? Why no talk about Randy bringing the organization back to actually breaking even which is what he was hired to do. You blow up this league you have nothing. The stand alone even that everyone says is the best thing to do. Lets rationalize that. If it is a stand alone event who is going to enter? Lets cross off any F1 drivers as Bernie will never cooperate, especially Monaco. Even if the manufacturers wanted to play, who will drive? It won't be f1 or Nascar drivers. Their contracts would be so thick that its just not permitted. So what do we have? Some second rate drivers with some cars. That is what the IRL was founded on so it looks like they would be shooting themselves in the foot yet again. The only thing to do is forge ahead.
    • Being a Realist
      BMC wrote: Yep, detroit was a fiasco. And that is Randy's fault how?

      Answer: Because Randy is the head of IndyCar and it's his job and responsibility to make sure the series is safe for the drivers and the fans. I would expect Ropin' Randy to make double/triple sure IndyCar venues are safe for all. Especially after last year's Las Vegas debacle on a track not suited to IndyCar racers.

      Just because Penske/GM held the race, the fact remains the track was/is old and apparently no testing (by any group) was done to see if the surface could withstand the new racers. That's a major safety oversight.

      Yet you say "the league got paid. And they still managed to have a race." Really? What about fan interest, I don't think Detroit had much of that.

      This year's Indy 500 was indeed a great one but the rest of the IndyCar series is not being well received, has gotten no media coverage or fan attendance.

      I'm not being a hater. Just stating the facts and what you can plainly see on TV - as in there were NO fans in the stands at Texas Saturday night. Really sad.
      • Indy as a standalone
        lets see, it seemed to work until someone had a vision
      • Nothing Real about it
        No, the Detroit fiasco was Beaux Barfield's Roger Penske, & GM's. I didn't know that Randy's contract is CEO and Race Director. Just another hater pinning all blame on one man. How many other racing series raced on that pavement all week and nothing happened? Let's be serious here, who expected that race to be good? They had an issue and dealt with it like professionals. The fan interest isn't there but Chevy's is so that's why it was there. Yes blacktop issue should have never happened but by the success of all the other races that weekend, and in years past how were they to know it would happen? So not only was it a fiasco, but the series still put a race on and got their sactioning fee. That is how you run a successful business which is what Randy is doing. There are always and has always been snoozers. ALWAYS. That is not the fault of Randy.

        There were not alot of fans in the stands saturday which is sad because it was a good race. That is probably why Randy is rethinking that approach on whether to go back next year. It has to be viable.
      • That's Mr. Penske to you Randy
        My guess is when Mr. Penske shoots Randy a disapproving glance the cowboy gophers a little in his BVD's. When Mr. Penske tells Randy to jump the cowboy only requires a number. My guess is it goes the same with Mr. Penske's lieutenant, Mr. Ganassi.

        These two either inform Mr. Bernard how it will be or ignore him altogether so as not to waste time. Corrective interviews are quick and to the point, I am certain.

        Sadly for all involved, termination is near for all.

        When a new schedule comes out, supporting the Indy 500, in the manner I have suggested, small-scale, almost pro-am in nature, I think it would be best for the H-G family to consider the exclusion of said parties.

        I would much rather see a WoO team or an SCCA team hire a Clauson or a Meira and run Indy for the pure love and hell of it, and then go have a beer and a bratwurst, then Mr. Penske and Mr. Ganassi gloat and self-serve. And so would just about anybody else who had paid money and time to follow this sport over the years.

        It is all about Indy. Make it so. And add in a 300-miler here, a twin 150's there, on a summer night over there, or a Fall Sunday there, so real race car driver's from whatever discipline they are in, can get a little IndCar seat time, an extra pay check, and get ready for the next May.

        IIt has been proven out, people do not watch the Indy 500 or an Indy Car race to see Chip Ganassi or Roger Penske or any blowhard owner. The few who do watch are there to see gunners go elbows out to win the Indy 500. The talk was about Takuma Sato this past month, not Ganassi.

        This is a Month of May and summer night Saturday sport, burgers, beer, and balls. It is not a corporate tassle-loaferd CEO exhibition, "rebuilding" cities, and "partnering" with target demos and "branding" gobbeldy-gooks on city streets over wine and cheesecake.

        This sport is about one thing and one thing only: The Indianapolis 500. MAN and machine. Nuts and guts.

        Time to fold this mess and call it an epic disaster. Do it now, while there may be some money left, or a small enough debt load to brign the focus back to Indy and three or four races here or there on a hot summer Sunday in the middle of August, where a man can park his sprinter or sports car and get a little IndyCar seat time, looking ahead to May. Guess what? There are dozens of studly race car drivers with methanol for blood who would run the dog out of a Dallara just to get a sip from that bottle.

      • HEY BMC
        Great race at Texas, huh? To me that race (and this entire season) has invalidated the entire 1996-2011 IRL/IICS generation of motorsport. Just like the haters had been saying all along.

        So, I guess there is a positive in all of this.
      • who r u talking about
        the people who have wasted their time and money on Tony's folly?
        China has been officially cancelled.

        What failure this series is...Milwaukee, Baltimore, Qingdao...low of no sanction fees from most tracks, and most others wanting severe discounts. No promotion or marketing. IZOD getting out. No one watching on NBCSN cable outpost.

        This is how AOW is being run today. Great job IndyCar. Superb work...I could do a better job with my eyes closed.
      • That TV number for Texas
        must be so special they are waiting for the proper occasion to announce it
      • How now Qingdao?
        So much for the emerging market of 8 million and all those Indy-Car loving, ket target demographic Chinese Beer Festival guzzlers who live, breathe, sleep, and eat Indy Cars.

        Adding to the epic stupidity, incompetence, and general stinky-poopiness of the powers-that-be ocer at ICS: Maybe angering ICS, which thinks/thought/maybe has the 2012 season finale. A track should know for certain, in Mid-June, it has the season finale in the given season it is/was/could be be hosting the season finale. But Randy says, oh, maybe not. It is only three months out. Give us time.

        Only in the IndyCart Series could they mismanage this into insulting an ICS track.

        What a horse turd of a racing series. Please, please, please put it down. Euthanize it and end the suffering.
      • The teams are
        not really saddened by this news.
      • Ho-Pin Tung is Sad
        And that is just sad.
      • How about that
        Since BMC is obviously such an honest poster, I came back to this comment board tonight to see his apology for claiming that cancelling China was just an "assumption". Imagine my shock & horror (just choked on my own sarcasm there) when it was nowhere to be found. Yup, honesty & INDYCAR minions have never met and never will.

        FACT ALERT FOR INDYCAR MINIONS: Randy Bernard's attempts (so far) to create new or revive dead races has been pathetic. Here's the truth:

        1. His first attempt to run a revived Milwaukee tanked attendance wise. Randy & his minions just threw the promoter he hired under the bus and moved on to the next sucker. "Let's get Mikey to try it. YEAH!!!" To be continued...

        2. Randy's attempt to run Loudon was so bad attendance wise they were a "one & done". Nobody seems to blame him for that one either.

        3. The only thing that saved Randy from being raked over the coals for the ridiculously low attendance at Las Vegas after all those free tickets were offered was Dan Wheldon's death & the Hollywood SFX crash that took his life. That race was supposed to be Randy's baby. It went out with the minion's bath water too.

        4. Although Detroit was OK attendance wise, 2 hour pothole delays never convince new fans to return to a new/old race. Someone convinced Randy that patching up Detroit with the same stuff Penske patched MIS up with in 1985 was a wonderful idea. Uhh, OK. BTW, didn't Randy hire Beaux Barfield, whose fault Detroit apparently was? Nope, the bus driver & passenger that ran over Beaux disagrees.

        5. Baltimore is now on it's THIRD promoter in two seasons and started six months late selling tickets for the 2012 race. That was a Bernard original. Again, not picking competent promoters TWICE reared it's ugly head as Randy's minions buried theirs.

        6. China, Randy's latest gem, was vaporware from the start. So far, the city's new mayor, whose name Randy's minions probably can't spell or pronounce, is the latest to get a great look at bus axles tonight. Apparently, he gets blamed for all the stuff that wasn't done in the five months BEFORE he took office. That's minion math for ya!!!

        When someone fails SIX TIMES in less than two years at doing something, are we really supposed to believe their seventh attempt will be any better? How many CEO's even get six chances to fail these days? INDYCAR chose to hire a CEO who was clueless on running or reviving auto races. They got exactly what they asked for. Too bad it wasn't what they needed.

        Randy was praised for bringing INDYCAR to profitability. The confirmed loss of China's reported $8 million sanctioning fee & the apparent impending loss of IZOD, who reportedly contributed between $10-$15 million to the bottom line, has put INDYCAR right back where Randy started. Time to put the rodeo pony out to stud and bring a racing stallion in to fix what never should have been broken in the first place.
        • Again, Randy answers to Mr. Penske and Mr. Ganassi
          All those points are valid, Tony Joseph. But don't forget, that at the end of each dismal day over at IndyCar, Randy takes his direction from Chip and the Captain. Both think it is 1992 and happy Americans will eagerly lap up watching Penske and Target machines go 90 miles per hour on torn up from the floor up parks and city streets. Not so unless it is a high school temp stand full of corporate freebies like Detroit. And people go to Indy because they love Indy. Don't forget teh Dario boofest post-race.

          All of it is post-CART ugly and failure.

          Time to flush away the whole sha-bang. Flush it good too, because it stanks!
        • When I grow up, I wanna post Like Tony Joseph!
          Great job Mr. Joseph! You have wonderfully illustrated the reality or Indycar 2012.
        • Thanks for the compliment
          Tony Joseph..Lets see here. Tell me where in my post that I said China getting cancelled was an assumption. Good luck becuase I never said that. I was referring to Izod. Also if you read my post fully without your hater goggles on I am nearly twisting all the hate back around to a logical perspective. Lets take a look at your Hater Fact Alert.

          1.Randy threw together Milwaukee in a short span of what like 6 months. Is that enough time? No. Did Randy go to Milwaukee and hand out flyers and then nobody show up? No. He trusted the great people of Milwaukee to do it. It didn't have good attendance. Instead of the promoters being blamed its Randy. News Flash. Why did he even try? Because that's what the fans wanted was a race at Milwaukee. You call it a failure. I call it listening to fans and giving them what they want. Were you there? Did you watch? So I am going to say thanks Randy for giving us a race at Milwaukee. Michael and his group are going to do a great job this year.

          2.Once again, It was all Randy to run at Loudon. Let's not place any blame on the fact that the weather was bad at Loudon, it was the first race back in years and we were only given once chance. Per your usual stance, 100% Randy. Not the track organizers who whore themselves out to Nascar. Given the chance to race there again the attendance would have went up. Especially with the new cars.

          3. Sad Sad Sad to say that Dan Wheldon's tragic death was what saved an event. What saved the event was lots of time to plan, and great promotion in a familiar arean for Randy. He drew the tv ratings he was projecting to get. He sold out the corporate hospitality suites, and the attendance was fine. The track is so big that unless it isn't filled to capacity it looks empty. Like the brickyard 400.

          5. I already addressed why Detroit was a success in my post above. You just couldn't come up with anything. Attendance was good, they patched the track up like professionals and got on with the race.

          6.China is China. Its unfortunate. Randy did not lose any money so he will have to get creative when finding another race. Big deal. Indycar is not the first and last racing series that has had a date cancelled in China. Even the almighty F1 has had issues in dealing with China. That's how it goes. Politics always get in the way with anything.

          In your last paragraph you point to the sactioning fee of 8 mil. I do not know the financials but I would bet that since they had a contract in place with China, they get some monetary gain as I would assume there is a cancellation clause and some money down to secure the event. As for the Izod issue. Only an assumption at this point. And you are blaming Randy for Izod leaving. I addressed this already above as well but you obviuously have your hate goggles on. You say that Randy has failed six times in only 2 years. You only concentrate on what you percieve are failures and do not look at the things he has accomplished. A typical hater. Thanks for calling me honest by the way.
        • Everybody elses fault
          BMC...too funny! It's always someone elses fault. The series needed to fill a void in the schedule...that's why New Hampshire got the nod. They gave them charged no sanction fee and had plenty of time to promote.

          FACE IT dood, EVERYONE hates the 2012 IRL series. The NASCAR mods steal the show everytime.

          It's the speedway's fault for letting this all slip so far into the toilet. Blame everyone BMC, everyone EXCEPT the problem. RAndy is over his head and the lEeegue stinks. Texas TV ratings? Stink. Milwaukee? Stink. Baltimore? Stink. China? Stink.

          All because of the ineptitude at 16th and Jopnestown. Look it all's the truth.
          • ok "DOOD"
            Actually everyone doesn't hate the IZOD INDY Car Series. There are quite a few people that like it. What you and all the other haters seem to not realize is that I am not saying that Randy is perfect. I am just saying that he deserves credit where credit is due and you and all the others on here only talk about the negatives and not the positives to paint your picture and drive your points home which is dumb. 2 sides to everything. I am simply pointing that out. He took on a big job and has made progress. I am giving him the credit. Once again my posts have done nothing but counter everyone else's rant. Everyone is becoming catty and defensive which is an obvious sign that they know I am right and want to argue. Human nature.
          • Hardly
            I respect your opinion Mr. BMC.

            I disagree with it, but I respect it. What was the Texas TV rating? Detroit TV rating? Do you think the series can survive on 0.7 and 0.14 TV ratings?

            I know you think Randy's done a good job, but it's not enough. It's reflected in everything as of late. He just is not the answer.
            • One correction Chief
              The Speedway didn't "LET" it slip into the toilet, they paid good money to get it there. Hunedreds of millions of good moneys.
            • Why fire Randy?
              When there will be no series to run? See where I am going with that? A shut-off will save dollars, which makes cents. Talk is cheap, but BS walks. There are no viable options left. Run the cars in front of 10,000 at Texas in October and wave the flag one last time. Give drivers and teams a heads-up so they can seek employment.

              Randy can go back to piggy-pig races and tilt-o'-whirls. And he's got the buckin' bronco thing. Maybe he can make calf-ropin' a trend-rage for three or four years.

              Dario is skeert and Marco is bored. They can go run the sport cars.

              Penske and Ganassi can run the fable cars over in NA$CAR to get speed kicks.

              Put this thing down this year and go out with some dignity.
            • I agree
              Thanks Chief. I do respect your opinion as well. Obviously we see things differently. The tv ratings are what they are. Not much to brag about. Its tough on a network that people don't know much about. They do one heck of a job broadcasting but it doesn't matter if not alot of people are watching. I actually think that they should pony up and actually pay for network time on a different channel such as NBC or CBS. Not feasible at this time though. I don't think Randy is to blame but I agree I don't think he is the answer but there is a caveat to that. He alone is not the answer. It will have to be a collective group to get this going and there isn't a line forming to assist.
            • Fair Assessment
              BMC, NO oNE can ignore the problems, none of them. I understand IMS/Indycar is a private company and they can do what they want, but the writing has been on the wall for dozens of years and it just seems to get worse. When you are getting TV ratings for your series that are so low they can't even announce them (0.09), it's a problem that certainly catches sponsors eyes. They never addressed the perception problem...they just forged forward like the damage created over the past 20 years could be forgotten. It wasn't (by fans and sponsors) and you have what you have today. That is the truth. Randy should have apologized....
            • An apology from Ropin Randy
              would mean diddly. Until the SOBs who did the crap that caused this situation apologize, nothing will change. Stays here!
            • It's not Randy's fault
              The town of Speedway has not been able to shut down 16th street and Georgetown road yet to build the traffic circle and fountain that the IMS deserves, since the IMS is a 'world class facility' according to their press releases and those of the Speedway redevelopment committee. Once that's done the fans will all flock in, you just wait. If you want proof look at all the fans that stream into the Pacers and Colts games because there is a circle in downtown Indy. The key to the entire series is Firestone, look at the panic that set in last year when they said they weren't interested in signing a new deal. I don't think anyone here hates the IRL, just the way it's been managed. I would have liked to seen the Delta wing car chosen, but that was too radical a change for them, just like the turbines. What I find very interesting is that the IMS does not seem to want to hold the replacement Chinese race. My take is that it's either too expensive because they can't sell enough sponsor packages (diluting the brand is the fancy terms marketing hypes, I mean types, use for that), or more likely the turnout would be lower than pole or bump day, which would be hard to do since the 'crowd' was dismal each day. I think everyone here hopes the IRL / Indycar can make the series work either with Randy, or his replacement, if that's what it takes. I've had Chip and RP as clients, those are some humongous egos to deal with, they do not like the word NO unless they issue that command.
            • 'Ol Rog and the Chipster...
              The Captain and Ganassti, that is are severe cases of arrested development, business success withstanding. Beyond that, they are boyish and juvenile in a sandbox sort of way. At any rate, they preside over a dying sport, to which they can be credited for making terminally-ill with Penskenassi Disease. Death is near, albeit doctors doing what they can in futility.
            • I heard its gone to be
              about a 0.2 for that great Texas shootout. That has to make IZod happy again.
            • And before you chime in
              if the Izod Indycar Series had a supporting fanbase, the TV numbers wouldn't be at the level they are. As Burl might say, the TV number reflects the actual size of the fanbase. But maybe the family will spend 600 million more dollars to drive that number up. There isn't a Television service provider that doesn't carry NBCSports, but there is a substantial number of forum fans who won't pony up the $5 or $10 to get it.
            • The Past 17 Years
              has always hinged on the Family's willingness to spend large sums of money to keep the fledging league flailing.

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