IndyCar CEO, team owners at major crossroads

July 5, 2012
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Earlier this season, at least one IndyCar team owner wanted series CEO Randy Bernard fired.

While some owners more recently have come to Bernard’s defense, the relationship between owners and IndyCar’s chief executive seems tenuous. The two sides certainly have their differences of opinion.

Bernard wants aero kits for 2013. Team owners are skeptical of what they’ll do to the sport and its financial viability.

Bernard wants the series to grow from 15 races this season to 19 races in 2013 and 22 in 2014. Team owners say growth must happen in the right markets or it threatens to put them out of business and will inhibit new teams from joining the series.

IndyCar officials this month are making trips to Austin, Phoenix, and Pocono to examine possible future racing venues. Bernard promises there will be other site visits and says he hopes to unveil the 2013 schedule in early September.

“I haven’t determined the direction of aero kits, but we need to do that soon,” Bernard said. “I like aero kits. Team owners don’t want them for sure.”

Bernard likes them because fans want them, and the kits give manufacturers another chance to brand themselves and show off their technological wherewithal.

The aero kits will change the look of the IndyCar’s chassis. And while series officials say they’ll only cost teams $75,000 per car, car owners say the addition of aero kits will increase the cost of racing an entire season $250,000 to $350,000 per car.

“We recognize the desire from the fan base, but the biggest thing is trying to get our budgets under control,” said IndyCar team owner and driver Ed Carpenter.

Carpenter points out that the cost to run the new chassis and engine package that IndyCar rolled out this year is 25 percent to 30 percent higher than what series officials promised it would be last year.

“It’s quite a bit,” Carpenter said. “It’s increased the price of general operating costs, general maintenance and crash damage.”

The series must work with its sole chassis supplier, Dallara, to get costs down before introducing the new costly aero kits, team owners said.

The idea of having a sole supplier, Carpenter said, was to keep costs down. He said that having a sole supplier seems to have increased costs, noting that it’s significantly more expensive to run a car this year than in 2011.

Carpenter said that not only are parts more expensive, but some, such as the car’s carbon brakes, “aren’t lasting as long as advertised.”

“Until we get some of these things under control, I don’t think aero kits need to happen,” Carpenter said. “I don’t think it will be good for the sport.”

Carpenter, like other IndyCar owners, has concerns about Bernard’s plan to grow the series schedule.

“It’s easy to say we need to grow the schedule, and I’d like to race more, but we need to make sure we’re doing the right races and entering the right markets.”

Some owners are calling for more ovals, while others are cautioning that entering Austin could hurt existing IndyCar races in Houston and at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. While Pocono and Phoenix are intriguing possibilities, owners want to make sure those are desirable markets for their sponsors.

Carpenter said only venues that can afford a solid sanctioning fee to host a race should be considered.

“That way, purses can increase and we can cover our expenses,” he said.

Bernard said he and his staff hope to work more closely with promoters and host cities to ensure races are successful.

“The business model has to change,” Bernard said.

Bernard said there’s no cut and dried answer to how many ovals versus road and street courses he’d like to see on the schedule.

“I’m looking for the best race track and promoters we can get,” he said.

  • where are you
    where are all the negative people at with their anti positive comments on IndyCar. Shoot you naysayers are usually done with 5 negative columns by now :) Happy Independence day
  • Here's a positive comment
    Randy Bernard introduced the "no sanction fee" formula for Indycar races since 2011. How's that working out? Now, they want to find venues to pay sanction fees again? Good luck with that. Maybe the IRL should do everything free...just give it all away. Betcha it still wouldn't sell.
  • A sticky wicket
    You can see both sides of this issue for the IndyCar series. I can identify with the teams not wanting additional costs, especially when they're still learning the engineering and mechanicals on the new race cars. Carpenter's sanctioning fee comment that only those venues that can afford a "solid" fee be considered really makes sense. So much emphasis must be placed on the local promoter/sponsor to reach out to race fans in that area so as to fill the stands. It really makes IndyCar look bad on TV when there are 50% of the seats empty. In defense of Randy Bernard, the more races they can run, the more chance they have to attract new fans and bring back former ones. More races also keeps IndyCar in the news more consistently. What a dilemma. Should be interesting to read the compromise that is reached. If any.
  • Econ 101
    Someone wasn't paying attention in class. Competition, not monopoly, drives down cost and encourages innovation. Apparently all the owners and drivers missed that question on the test freshman year. Higher than expected cost and push back on creating new aero packages... Who said you would never use what you learned in Intro Econ?
  • Has Any Reputable Journalist...
    ...bothered to visit the Dallara facility, talk to the people at Dallara, investigate both sides of this 'story' or otherwise fleshed out the reality? Why do I feel we're only getting one side of a story Maybe no one speaks Italian.
  • Huh?
    This is the best you can do, Anthony? You interview TG's stepson and play it off like he speaks for all the owners...? Really? The same guy who said Texas would be boring? The same guy who complained during the Texas race that it was boring even though it was one of the best shows that track has seen? The only disconnect I can see is your hand (and Chief's) on the pulse of the series.
  • Hey Defender
    What did you do that has prevented 80 employees at the plant from building the cars the Indiana taxpayers are paying for? Maybe Wilke needs to investigate this.
  • Hay Dipsicle
    I visited the facility. All they have is two guys working the espresso counter and no Americans building the cars the Indiana taxpayers are subsidizing.
  • Hey Defender
    When did you become a fan of taxpayer supported racing?
  • I See The Children Are Out Of School
    "What did you do that has prevented 80 employees at the plant from building the cars the Indiana taxpayers are paying for?" Uh, I do not work for Dallara. The last time I actually talked to folks at Dallara, however, they were on track for assembly of all Indy Cars by the end of the year. You youngsters need to exercise a little patience in conjunction with use of your brains. "I visited the facility. All they have is two guys working the espresso counter and no Americans building the cars the Indiana taxpayers are subsidizing." I had a tour a few weeks back and was impressed by the amount of build-out in preparation for assembly. Perhaps you should have gone further than the coffee shop. "When did you become a fan of taxpayer supported racing?" The way in which the minds of children work is fascinating. The blinder myopia they talk themselves into is amusing. Disingenuous misrepresentation of actual facts seems to be a common trait among the IndyCar darkly obsessed. Do a little investigation, kiddo. Study economics. As a Speedway taxpayer I am 100% behind the gentrification of an area that was about to be swallowed by squalor. The transformation of that area is remarkable and is just beginning. Taxpayer supported racing? That type of ignorance is stunning.
  • The Assembly of something
    manufactured somewhere else is not exactly what the taxpayers were expecting. Putting taxpayer money to use to build the community is not the same as using taxpayer money to race. You always have a need to skirt the issues being discussed. Arrested development comes to mind.`
  • Hey Defender
    without looking, who is leading the points race for the AJ Foyt trophy at the moment. Oh that's right, you aren't a race fan, how would you know.
  • Funnier By The Minute
    '...manufactured somewhere else is not exactly what the taxpayers were expecting. Putting taxpayer money to use to build the community is not the same as using taxpayer money to race. You always have a need to skirt the issues being discussed. Arrested development comes to mind.' Skirt issues? Huh? Actual reality comes to mind for me. Let's have a basic discussion about how the world operates these days, kid. My wife bought a new Subaru. It was manufactured mostly in Japan but also in other parts of the world, including America. The car, however, was 100% assembled in Lafayette, Indiana. That assembly process provides hundreds of jobs and helps that part of central Indiana grow. What is the difference in that arrangement and the Speedway/Dallara arrangement, other than scale? 'Taxpayer subsidized racing' is merely another desperate lunacy grab by the ignorant. 'without looking, who is leading the points race for the AJ Foyt trophy at the moment. Oh that's right, you aren't a race fan, how would you know' Actually, I am in Toronto at the moment for the festival o' speed. Ryan Hunter-Reay, by the way. As usual, your assumptions remain woefully short on both sense and accuracy.
  • Hey Defender
    Your post are no good without corroborating current photographs
  • Oddly, No Follow-up on Actual Issues
    It's hard enough to make text make sense in this comment section much less pictures. I'll snap some the next time I am there.
  • AJ Defender
    Defender you did not answer the question. Who is leading the Jabba the Foyt championship? Your name is Defender after all.
  • Hey Defender
    You aren't worth one. Dallara promised the State of Indiana that 80 jobs would be created at its US facility, and the total to date is 15 - and that includes the staff at the Italian cafe in the assembly facility (don't call it a factory). One team uses the slogan "American Made, American Driven," and if the 'made' part is meant to talk about the car instead of the sponsor's product, they are not telling the truth. The DW12 is approximately 10 percent American, by my calculation."
  • Shooting Ducks in a Barrel
    "Defender you did not answer the question. Who is leading the Jabba the Foyt championship? Your name is Defender after all." Jabba the Foyt, huh? Even for mental giants like you that seems like such an original epithet. Reading must not be your long suit either. That question was answered in my 'Funnier By The Minute' contribution. "You aren't worth one. Dallara promised the State of Indiana that 80 jobs would be created at its US facility, and the total to date is 15 - and that includes the staff at the Italian cafe in the assembly facility (don't call it a factory). One team uses the slogan "American Made, American Driven," and if the 'made' part is meant to talk about the car instead of the sponsor's product, they are not telling the truth. The DW12 is approximately 10 percent American, by my calculation." Nice copy/paste of John Oreovicz content. Do ALL of you whacko conspiracy theorists actually believe the 80 hire should be there right out of the gate, before the place is even finished? Talk about unrealistic expectations....
  • Why do parts cost so much"
    Owners are paying the Euro conversion rate plus markup for replacement come? Duhllara has an American shop built with the expressed purpose to provide cost effective cars and parts. Why is it neither cost effective or American made? Appears this league continues being a sham.
    • Patience, Grasshoper
      Get back to us with your quaint obsessed outrage after they actually finish the build out, son.
    • Why are Indiana Taxpayers
      subsidizing Italian workers?
    • Selective Outrage Is Funny
      Do the Subaru, Toyota or Honda plants in Indiana subsidize Japanese workers?
    • What do Subura, Toyota & Honda
      have to do with the lies told to Indiana taxpayers about the 2012 Indycars. Toronto tickets sales down over 10% from last year. Vibrant A city with over 6 million people in it's GTA and Dipsicle couldn't convince more that 13,000 people to buy a ticket. Vibrant
    • When Will Toronto Get Cancelled?
      Well, I see the tendency for the obsessed to make up their own numbers to fit their 'arguments' hasn't changed. LOL. Uh, what 'lies' have been told to Indiana taxpayers? Would it surprise you to know that the framework of the Dallara deal is remarkably similar to deals Subaru, Toyota and Honda have in Indiana? So is it a horrible thing that those manufacturers are operating where and how they do? I wish intelligent discourse was possible with the obsessed.
    • Toronto will get canceled
      when the family stops bankrolling it just like the rest of the series
    • Toronto REJECTS Izod Series
      I saw overhead shots of the Toronto race...parking lots empty, grandstands gone. Limited fans milling about, beer gardens eliminated. Great work IRL leadership...looks like you destroyed another once-successful event, now for the 4th consecutive year. HaY RaNDy...if you EVER want to know why the fans hate your series just drop me an email because it's apparent you can't figure it out.
    • 11,255
      that is the number of grandstand seats sold by the beginning of the farce. Where were the other 100,000?
    • Doomed, I Tell Ya, Doomed.
      Hmmmm. Perhaps festivals o' speed are not all they are cracked up to be. I'd rather go to someplace like Kentucky anyway. I say drop it.
    • Cheef
      wood know
    • 2012 AOW Economics
      Fascinating that the IRL/IIICS is still using old CART attendance stats to secure these great events like Toronto. The fact remains that in 4 years of IRL/IICS at Toronto, the IRL has yet to eclipse even ONE years worth of attendance from the previous series who occupied Toronto. Why is that? Like TV ratings, I'm sure some paid Speedway propagandist will step forth to tell us Toronto is sucksessful as Indy itself and for the "critics" to not worry. Toronto is dead, and it's because of nobody but yourselves.
    • So tiny D meets someone
      and a month later that person bails from trackforum. Not at all a coincidence. Keep up the good work of alienating your small fanbase.
    • Toronto: Build a Real Track.
      Here's a helpful hint for the kart kiddies: Most people in this country could care less whether there are IndyCar races in Canada. As far as I'm concerned they can be cancelled. I'd rather see markets like Memphis opened anyway. If I were Canada, I'd build a real track in Ontario and stop relying on some glorified fairground.
    • Randy's Last Rodeo
      Time for Randall to ride off into the sunset, headed west for a triumphant return to dusty California corn dog fairs and rodeos. This car racing thing just ain't a workin'. Recent comments suggest the gunslinger is all hat. Further, he's a cowboy puppet for the real gunslingers who wrecked the sport in the first place. You can thank Messrs. Penske and Gannasty, primarily, for their services in making IndyCar racing almost entirely irrelevant outside the Indy 500. Fire Randy. Tell Penske and Gannssty to go pound it, and kill the sickly series. USAC, please stand up a small, three or four oval schedule to compliment Indy. Fontana, Michigan, Iowa, wherever...that is all that will work. People still love IndyCars one day a year and you know where. A handful of oval races here and there spread out over the March through October timeframe will remind them it one day be Spring again and the cars will roar at IMS. A sustainable series cannot exist anymore. Those days are over. Randall, please tender your resignation by the close of business on Friday.
    • Why build something for nothing?
      Build a real track in Toronto? Hahhahahahabwahhahhaa! The IRL can't even fill 1/10th of what existed before. To me, that shows the product sucks and Toronto fans ain't buying it. The worlds greatest IRL owner is the promoter of it and it STILL is worthless. Me thinks Mikey Andretti's greatest abilities is to take more and make it less. Seriously, look at his credentials. Is it any wonder he got fired by The Donald? AOW is dead. Thanks TOny for saving the sport, and Ropin Randy for building this big dung infused pyre called the Izod Indycar Series.
    • Helpful hint too...
      Disciple, I think you could say most people in this country could care less whether there are IndyCar races.
    • Toronto - I was there
      I flew up to Toronto with my boyfriend for the Toronto race. He has an Aunt there and we thought combining a visit with her and seeing the IndyCars someplace beside Indy would be fun. It wasn't. The racing is horrible on those streets. It was boring and I almost fell asleep. There seemed to be about 10,000 or so fans there. Some were hardcores, dressed in IZOD IndyCar Sreies gear. Some were what looked to be casual fans out for the sun and fun. But overall, the atmosphere compared to Indy is like apples and oranges. It was almost surreal. My boyfriend said he is down to just going to Indy next year, maybe Mid-Ohio this summer because we can camp. We'll see. I agree with Burl. The road races are just not entertaining and I think a few races on ovals are a better idea. We will not be back.
    • The IRL
      ruining formerly successful races for over a decade.
    • The IRL
      kicked out of over twenty venues for under performance
    • Burl or Bull?
      Indy killed open wheel racing in this country. And it isn't even an oval. All you have left is a fake running on the back of an 80 year tradition. Long live the visions
    • Like Tony said
      when he took over. Indy fans don't care about racing. I could run golf carts around the track and they would still come
    • Talk To Your Doctor. IndyCar is Not Going Out Of Business.
      It is obviously safe at this juncture to remind the IndyCar-obsessed nattering scattershot all through this comment section that it is probably time to consider an increase in dosage of fluoxetine.
    • Why drop Toronto
      I'm sure you can find someone to tell us there were 150,000 tickets sold for the weekend.
    • Someone Hand Me A Fly Swatter
      I believe that ilk and their fantasy numbers died along with cart, although a handful of them still obsessed have made it a mission to pollute comment sections of blogs all over the internet.
    • Wait till we start
      our letter writing campaigns. You & Jim can give us some of your old ones to copy from
    • 1990 Molson Indy
      That was a fun one. 1997-8 too. 2001-2006 was great too...grandstands loaded and beer gardens full. Take a peek on Youtube. Dozens of grandstands that you don't see in 2009-2012. What happened? Only thing I can figure is the IZODIRLcarz showed up. An ICONIC failure.
    • Reminder: It's 2012.
      What happened? Seriously? After cart earned its first toe tag Molson pulled the plug. The people were not there for the race cars as much as they were there for the beer. Canadians love their beer.
    • The supply of beer hasn't been interupted
      so it must be the cars and the people associated with them. The once dead IRL still ruining formerly successful races
    • Most people in this country
      couldn't care less if there are Indycar races in the US. As far as I'm concerned they can be canceled.
    • Can't sell beer to nobody
      This an important point. Does the Speedway still sell them 32oz buckets of beer? Sure they do. Toronto unloads several trackside beer tents where they could sell beer. Canadians love beer, beer makes money for promoter. Savy business people know that there is no shortage of beer...just folks who drink it. Canadian didn't stop drinkin beer. Why weren't there any Canadians at the Toronto Indy this past weekend to drink beer? Why didn't they even provide for them to have a place to drink it? Thats how bad it is for the Indycars. ALL empty parking lots in Toronto with no one to drink the beer because they hate the IRL/Indycarz. So they refuse to go....I wonder why? Any of you Indy place fans wanna eggsplain it to me? 1986-2007 the place was packed to the rafters...then, in 2009-2012 it's empty. They should bring in NASCAR in Toronto, the golden goose has once again been slayed by the Visionaires from 16th and Jonestown.
    • Hiccup
      Uh, they have to PAY for the beer now.
    • Even the Rah Rah girls at TF
      don't believe your spew
    • Geez, that is an admission
      The great Dipsicle admits Toronto is an IRL loser. Under his favorite greatest IRL owner. Tell us about your Toronto experiences Dip...
    • Free beer tomorrow?
      WHo is they?
    • Here For the Beer
      They = Canadian 'racing' fans. In the 'golden years' they showed up largely for a free drunk. I could drink all the Molson products I wanted for free back int he day. Once that got cut off there was no reason for most to go. And spare me the line about Canadian fans being more sophisticated and preferring a twice dead series, etc. If that is the stance you five or six zealots hold then that makes those 'fans' not fans at all. It makes them ignorant.
    • They started takinf down grandstand the first year
      your once dead series showed up. Now getting any better. More proof the CART owners' decisions to let the Hulman family fund their racing businesses twice was smart. You can't do much when someone is dead set on destroying everything. Long live the visions. hEY jOSIE HOW MANY HUNEDREDS OF MILLIONS ARE YOU OUT NOW.
    • Free Beer in Toronto?
      You mean the little Molson stand inside the exhibition where they used to give 2 oz beer samples? Back in the "Golden Years"? Bwahahhahahahaha..... I tell ya what oh great oracle, I've been going to Toronto since the 70's, over 20 of 'em at that race. I have NEVER gotten a free beer from ANYONE in that town. Wait...I take that back...Don Cherry bought us a round at his old bar and we got invited to the Steelback Brewery one night. That's it. Just admit it, the Izod Indycar Series can't even sell beer to Canadians. That's how bad it is. V I B R A N T
      • Free Beer???
        So Chief, there never was free beer involved? I was wondering about that. I couldn't figure out how anyone could be giving out free beer legally. I can see them keeping the costs down as compared to other event type pricing since it was Molson doing the promotions, but free, no way. I guess it just goes to show how far some defender types will go to stretch the truth to fit their agenda. Sort of makes me wonder about ALL the other claims made by Disciple of Indycar.
      • NEVER
        Dipsicle alleges free beer was given out to the massive Toronto throngs which supposedly resulted in large attendances at pre-IRL/Indycar Toronto races, years 1986 - 2007, respectively. That free beer claim is patently false. Dipsicle knows why the series is failing, he just refuses to acknowledge it. The Molson Indy Toronto was the place to be...then the IRL came along and now no one goes. Even if they had free beer...
      • @ Carter
        Just another lie the Dipsicle of Indycars is famous for. Hell, the IRL could keep street bums from wanting a freebie
      • Things Must Be Vibrant
        in the IZOD Indycar Series these days when you no longer need a COO. He didn't even need to give them a customary advanced notice. Just walked in, said goodbye, and walked out.

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      1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

      2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

      3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

      4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

      5. Funny people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............