Deal with flip-flopping Firestone big gamble for Miles

January 2, 2013
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The recent agreement between Firestone and IndyCar to maintain the tire maker as the open-wheel series’ sole tire supplier through 2018 is an interesting one on several fronts.

First, the Dec. 21 announcement of the deal came just four days after Mark Miles had been installed as Hulman & Co.’s new CEO overseeing IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He told me a week before the announcement it was one of the first big issues he had to get nailed down.

The lingering tire supplier issue was making more than a few IndyCar constituents antsy heading into the new year, and Miles was certainly eager to relieve that angst.

Still, I’m surprised Miles didn’t take a little more time with this decision. Especially with the Hoosier Racing Tire Co. begging to get a shot at the contract.

Hoosier officials told me as recently as the International Motorsports Industry Show in December that they were willing to go whole hog on the series, and its partner in the deal—Continental Tire—was prepared to pour as much marketing cash into the series as Firestone.

Although Hoosier has never supplied tires for IndyCar, it’s not new to motorsports. No company makes more racing tires annually than the Indiana-based manufacturer.

While Firestone has been a reliable supplier to IndyCar since the series was founded in 1996, it more recently has been at the center of controversy and political unrest within the sport.

In early 2011, Firestone threatened to pull out of the IndyCar Series. The timing couldn’t have been worse with the series bringing on a new chassis and engine in 2012. One series insider told me Firestone had IndyCar “over a barrel.”

“During our long history in racing we have met or exceeded all of our motorsports goals,” Firestone’s racing director Al Speyer said in March 2011. “So now it’s time to set new goals—for ourselves and our brands.”

Looking back now, you have to wonder what those new goals were.

Former series CEO Randy Bernard had to do some fast negotiating to keep the tire maker in the series through 2014. But Firestone leveraged a hefty pay increase out of the deal. Before 2012, Firestone provided IndyCar free tires, saving teams about $750,000 a year.

With IndyCar team budgets stretched thinner, team owners complained that they couldn’t afford the aero kits many fans were anticipating and that Bernard had championed. The tight budgets also led to tension between team owners and Bernard, with owners telling him they couldn’t afford spare parts for the new cars, which were costing slightly more than forecasted by Bernard’s staff.

When Bernard, in 2012, began talking with other tire makers, Speyer was indignant.

“We’ve got certain rights and we want to stay,” Speyer said late last season. “This new direction caught us by surprise. We had no idea it was coming.”

Speyer made tracks over Bernard’s head, driving straight to IMS boss Jeff Belskus to complain. Firestone can certainly be credited for hammering a few nails in the coffin of Bernard, who was fired in October.

Firestone has proven it has lots of power in this sport. Miles should tread carefully here if he wants to maintain law and order over his new fiefdom. Tying the knot with such a partner through 2018 is a decision with major ramifications.

There didn’t seem to be any immediate rush to get this tire deal done, certainly not before the 2012 calendar flipped to 2013. So I’m surprised Miles, as calculating an operator as there is, didn’t take a little more time to evaluate this.

Maybe it's unrealistic to think Miles could have waited to hire his new IndyCar CEO before finalizing a deal with such a major supplier. But now the new IndyCar CEO will be saddled with a deal that he had no input on for the next five plus years.

A race series’ tire supplier is not only critical for the series’ speed and safety, but is also one of its biggest marketing engines. Firestone, sources said, paid about $8 million annually to market IndyCar.

One element of this new deal makes it stranger still. The deal did not include an extension of Firestone’s title sponsorship of the Firestone Indy Lights Series, the top feeder series for IndyCar. That deal expires after 2013.

I suppose Miles could choose to bring in another tire supplier for the Lights Series and use that to test them. And in turn, use that company’s presence to keep Firestone in line. But with the kind of political power Firestone packs, it's a tactic that could easily backfire on Miles.

One thing is certain: This saga has more twists than a serpentine road course.

With Bernard fired and Firestone’s Speyer set to retire in 2013, the IndyCar-Firestone soap opera must proceed with new protagonists.

Just two years after Firestone threatened to exit IndyCar, racing sources now say that it could become the presenting sponsor of the open-wheel series and possibly even replace Izod as the title sponsor in the next year or two.

Only time will tell if this fast-track deal will lead to long-term harmony and growth for the series or a rough ride for Miles and his new IndyCar regime.

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  • AH HAHAHHA
    IRL toadies Indyman and Defender just got kicked in the slats by Mark Miles by keeping FIRESTONE!!! I love IT!!! Great job Mr. Mark Miles. Now, take more advice and clean the house of Barnhart and get rid of the hideous "scooting" sidepods of that not-ready-for-primetime DW12 car and us lifelong AOW advocates might be pursuaded to start watching. Until then,...not.
  • Thanks to Miles...
    ...IndyCar will still have the stones. I'm with Chief on this one. Mr. Miles must provide Brian "Gimme Four Good Ones" Barnhart the opportunity to purchase a ticket to watch this year's Indianapolis 500. And a ticket only. Next, it owuld be beneficial to relieve the DW12 of its ugly. The sport may yet make it. Iffy, but maybe.
    • Huh!?
      I read these articles because I live in Indpls and have a general interest in the 500 and the series. I especially rely on the comments section in order to provide analysis on what I just read and to educate me further. I must say, the Indy Car soap opera is interesting, but, without being an "insider", I have no idea what the prior two comments mean. So, for you two geniuses who just posted, could you dumb that down for the rest of us casual race opera followers? I have no friggin clue what you are talking about!
    • To Billy
      At times it's difficult to say exactly what Chief and Burl are talking about. But in general terms, a lot of us IndyCar fans do not care for the look of the bubbled-appearance of the sides of the IndyCars. Take a look at a photo or two on Google images and you'll see what I mean. They look clunky. It's a bad brand message for the sport to be sending out. And the rear fender things technically mean they're not truly open-wheel cars anymore. Some drivers say they don't handle as sleekly as they IndyCar of old. Others have said the new DW12 car is too easy to drive. The reviews among sponsors on the appearance of the car is mixed. Some think the new sidepods make more room for sponsor names and logos and make those logos more visible during races. Others say "it takes some getting used to." That's politico for it looks odd and clunky. As for Brian Barnhart, well, he's made a number of mistakes as the previous chief race official. Big mistakes. Many fans would like to see him go. Last year he was replaced by Beaux Barfield. But for some reason he retained some sort of executive position within IndyCar, and that hasn't sat too well with a lot of the sport's hard-core fans. Since Barnhart was hired by Tony George hire, that hasn't helped him with a number of anti-Tony factions, especially old CART and Champ Car fans. Though, I'd say casual fans probably don't care as much about the Barnhart issue. I hope that helps.
    • Kicked me in the what? I have no issue with this. Since no one, including Anthony is privy to the deal, no one can inteligently discuss if this is a good deal. While I would have loved to see Hoosier get a shot, if bringing Hoosier to the table caused Firestone to cut a good deal for the series, more power to them. It was not that long ago that Chief and his haters was saying that Firestone pulling out in 2012 was the end of the world for Indycar. Then when a new deal extending to 2014 was announced Chief and his haters said this was just a stalling tactic costing Indycar a fortune. Now that Indycar has extended to 2018 Chief and his haters seem to think that this is somehow a bad thing. I guess for the haters it is. Indycar seems to think they have a good deal. Miles has had very good success with every project he has been involved with, so we must assume it is a good long term deal for Indycar. It is intriguing that the Lights was not included in the deal. Does that just mean they did not announce a new deal yet? Does that mean that they are waiting for the contract to expire to workout a long term deal? Or does it mean that they are going to use the competition of Hoosier Tire to get a better deal? Bringing Hoosier, or any tire manufacturer in with a new tire with no fall back for 2014 would have been a very tight schedule with a lot of possible pitfalls. Now if Hoosier were to be the Lights tire provider in the new contract, that would give Indycar two major tire suppliers providing money to advertise its two series. It would keep the heat on Firestone to provide quality products and not try to blackmail Indycar and it would give Hoosier a great testbed for Indy style tire testing for 4+ years. What better position to step into Indycar than having several years of testing at the step below? I am not sure how anyone considers a long term tire deal a bad thing. Two strong engines, a strong tire contract, strong commitment from its body builder, sounds like Indycar has that side of its shop in good shape. Now lets see what Miles does to shore up the TV and attendance.
    • Could Someone Give Us Something Substantive?
      Also, what's a 'toadie?' Like Indyman, I have little issue with Firestone as a supplier, although the entrance to the sport of Hoosier/Continental could have been huge. And perhaps they will get a shot in Lights. The thing I would like to know that no one has thus far been able to uncover from a detailed reporting standpoint is what the terms are. Owners in the series employ selective outrage when they feel they are being overcharged, but say nothing when the vig for Firestone increases substantially. What are the details of the new long-term arrangement? That is where my curiosity lies.
    • See I told ya...
      You both proclaimed Firestone "blackmailed" (your precise wording) IMS into the 2012 contract. Two weeks ago you didn't want Firestone because of that reason. Now you welcome them with open arms. Today, Toady (or toadies) is referenced on http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/toadies as 1. an obsequious flatterer; sycophant. Synonyms are 1. fawner, yes man, parasite, apple polisher.
    • Say, Kreskin....
      I see. Thanks for the clarification. Is it not time for your chlorpromazine? The funniest part about wading through the obsessed meandering of squatting children of the cart is the attempted mind reading. Look, kid, we all like Firestone and their safety record. Them being gone, however, is not unprecedented. I simply wish the brass at IMS would have done ALL the due diligence with what sounded like a great deal. Instead all we got was more bending over. That is shortsighted, but not the end of the world. Perhaps we will see Hoosier in the Lights series.
    • Speyer can't be trusted
      I agree that Firestone blackmailed the IndyCar Series and it's teams, and Al Speyer is not to be trusted. I suppose Mark Miles could have studied this issue while he was a member of the Hulman & Co. board, but I too would have liked to see him take more time with this decision. Any sense of urgency on this issue was created entirely by Firestone. They've been dictating terms to the IndyCar Series for quite some time.
      • topic
        (yawn)
      • The Deadspin
        Actually Mark Miles has bigger fish to fry. Deadspin.com just did a NBCSN piece where they researched just how poor the viewership is there. I seem to recall the IRL is locked into their TV contract with NBCSN till like 2018! Ugly cars, no tv viewership, but locked into 6 more years of 4th tier cable network infomercial heaven complete with bass fishing show leadin's and 0.18 tv ratings. Firestone had it right back in 2011 when they wanted to get out. There is no ROI for this series. In my opinion, IMS needed Firestone way more than the other way around.
      • What's Good For The Goose....
        Wonder how the F-1 fans feel now that it also their new home?
      • I never said I did not want Firestone back. Get your facts straight. You are good at putting words in peoples mouths, but rarely do you ever take responsibility for those that come out of yours. I said Firestone blackmailed Indycar, which they did. I said that I was amazed at Firestones feined outrage over Indycar bringing in another suitor for tires. I said Hoosier would be a good and loyal partner for Indycar. I did not say anywhere in my post that I welcomed them with open arms. What did say is until the details of the contract are known, no one can really comment if it is a good deal or not. But a tire deal until 2018 is not a bad thing regardless. I will be interested to see if Hoosier does play a part in the Lights Series. That would make a lot of sense. I guess you missed that 6 of the races are on ABC. How many of the infomercials of your last favorite race series were on a major network? Calling NBCSN a 4th tier network shows either your ignorance or partisanship. I am guessing a little of both. So Chief, spend less time trying to rewrite what we post and more time trying to explain why you continue to devote time and effort, which you seem to have a lot of both, into a series you hate when I am sure there are much more constructive things you can do with your life.
      • The product has improved
        For the first time in 16, 17 years the fans acreoss the board have endorsed the racing and the priduct of IndyCar. Even NASCAR folks like ESPN and F1 guys like Will Buxton have been excited about it. Probably nobody has experience with the stats and the buzz like Firestone. If this indicates a turnaround, that's going to be good for all but the chronic detractors - good for IndyCar teams, talent, venues and fans, good for sponsors, good for NBCSN.
        • Typos :)
          across, product
        • Long-term deal doesn't mean good deal
          Just because the IndyCar Series has a tire deal in place through 2018, doesn't mean it's a good deal or good for the series. I think that's the point of this entire post. If it's a bad deal, if Miles has rushed into something without doing his homework, if Firestone has lobbied the team owners and together they twisted the arms of Jeff Belskus and Miles and gotten them to sign off on a deal that in the long-run will be too expensive and not productive enough for the series, what you have is a bad, long-term deal. There's no worse kind of deal than that. I hope Miles is as smart as people say he is. Because we all know what kind of player Firestone and Al Speyer can be. Firestone is certainly looking out for its own goals and interests. That much we know.
        • I am looking out for the sport
          Firestone staying is good for the sport. Barnhart going away permanently is GOOD for the SPORT. Making the car GOOD looking is GOOD for the sport. Getting the TV viewership up is GOOD for the sport. But, as all you IMS paid IMS shills keep prattling on about, you are fine no matter what IMS does as long as you have your precious E Stand seat on memorial Day weekend. The REAL fact is there is a series here and the days of what is good for Indy is good for the series are LONG GONE. Mr. Mark Miles has been out of Indianapolis before, hopefully he'll understand how to deal with the moronic inbred decision making at 16th and Jonestown too. Despite what all you IMS lackeys spout.
        • Identity Problem with Indy Car racing...
          ...will be a topic Mr. Miles must address. On talk radio yesterday, the discussion was about the "fiscal cliff" bill. Senator Mitch McConnell's name was mentioned, followed by the fact his term is up in a couple of years and one of the names mentioned recently as a candidate was "actress Ashley Judd". One of the hosts cried foul on this notion and said she was a "b-lister living in a different state anyhow" and "married to that NASCAR guy." So here we are in 2013, Happy New Year IndyCar Series. Your latest three-time Indianapolis 500 Champion is "that NASCAR guy." Things is a lookin-up, they is.
        • Always Classy
          Chief, you should be more careful with your often immature choice of words. They do not reflect well on the small constituency you represent. No one disagrees that Firestone staying is good for the sport. Barnhart is probably not going away permanently. Stop wasting your energy on such a futile, pointless crusade. Car beauty is highly subjective. If there is a correlation between the appearance of the car and the quality of the racing we saw in 2012, it is a beautiful car. Given the current content delivery landscape, television viewership is normal. Could it be better? Heck yes. Again, no one disagrees. I cannot speak for my fellow comment contributors who possess intelligence and basic social skills, but I can for myself. I have never been paid a dime for anything by IMS and have never worked for that entity. I also do not believe logical expression of either fact or opinion constitutes 'prattling,' but I might suggest a mirror as a practical device for your quaint little ilk, Chief. Also, I sit in E-Penthouse. And pay for the privilege. With regard to Indy, without it there is no series. Ever. Not in the past (as history has shown) and not in the future. Mark Miles has actual business chops and may combine his rich sports business experience with his proven knack for success and may actually overcome the dated family model that has plagued IndyCar in recent decades, or, as you so eloquently screeched 'deal with the moronic inbred decision making at 16th and Jonestown too. Despite what all you IMS lackeys spout.' Stay classy. In addition to juvenile name calling I see you worked in yet another mass murder reference. Way to be an adult. LOL. Would it not be easier and less stressful to simply work in positive ways for the betterment of the sport? Bitterness and immaturity will not get you very far.
        • Mikeyturned13again
          is here to save us!
        • The Riddle
          In the 5 years since God Sagamore hisownself (Tony George for you newbies) un-parted the AOW split by MERGING the two series...it has disappeared from the radar of the fans. WHY? Auto racing, really good auto racing, excites ALL the senses. WHY has the TV ratings gone down, why have the attendances fallen or races been deleted or cancelled? Look, putting up all the adult responses you want isn't going to change these simple facts. Whether or not you and IMS want to keep your south ends facing north while your heads collectively are buried deep in the ground in your business....but AOW is suffering because of it. Identity, brand awareness, perception, marketing...everything is WRONG. Stop trying to tell me to go away while you continue to justify this crap. The 'key metrics' support all of my claims whether I try to make points in a humorous way or not. The IRLcarsz are the red headed stepchildren of racing...you know it, I know it, and the world knows it. Stop play acting all 'adult' and being so 'mature' and accept the fate of the series that is before us. That's it's only hope. How Mark Miles let a SUPPOSED known IRL/IMS/Indycar blackmailer back into the henhouse is beyond me. But, I know you all love it now.
        • Doitagain?
          Turn13, Did you forget that you're supposed to post as doitagain on Thursdays? Why did you run away from smacked? Any updates on your global warming denier buddy Cleanupcrew?
        • Even Robin Miller
          Thinks chief took a lap on the 2 and 1/2 mile oval without a helmet and hit the wall. Causing Dain Bramage ( yes I mean brain damage but I put it in cheiFs language) thanks for the laugh's chief now go make the doughnuts!
        • Wildly Away From The Target Again
          I see the children of the cart are out in full force with all of their clever little barbs, nicknames and nonsense taunting. How cute. Chief, your meandering, wandering, obsessive slamming of reached for topics continues to provide laughter for those of us who are adults. When is your nap time? 'God Sagamore' eh? Cute. Especially since Anton has long since departed. Actually, IndyCar is pretty distant from being off radar. It continues to enjoy A) profits from two national television network PAID deals, B) attendance of well over a million fans per year, C) has multiple sponsor and marketing partners, D) has a full schedule of racing events, and E) just gave us a season with great racing. Projection of your darkest fantasies does not make them so. And what does that quaint little rant have to do with the topic of Firestone/Hoosier? Fan radar is no different. Last year's schedule, for example, only featured attendance clunkers in Canada and Milwaukee, and even Milwaukee exceeded expectations and was renewed. That does not constitute being off fan radar to me, and I can't for the life of me figure out what that rant has to do with Firestone/Hoosier. The auto racing, 'really good auto racing,' excited ALL the senses of over a million fans in person again last season. Another of your cutesy off topic rant points asks: 'WHY has (consider use of the word 'have' in certain grammatical situations in the future) the TV ratings gone down.' The answer is simple. Ratings for the vast majority of sports and entertainment offerings have decreased. That is because there is more content availability and delivery options. Need proof? Look no further than NASCAR, which saw dramatic decreases in attendance and ratings in 2012. Sign of the times. And still has nothing to do with the Firestone/Hoosier actual topic. Facts: Attendance and ratings are normal given the landscape. Comparisons to some pie-in-the-sky, arbitrary period of the past demonstrates a high degree of willful ignorance. Truth is Indy Car had several sellout events and Indy once again drew hundreds of thousands in May. Those actual facts fly in the face of your scattershot yelping and continue to have nothing to do with the actual topic here, which is Firestone/Hoosier. 'AOW is suffering?' Oh? How so? It still draws fans, gets ratings along with two paid deals, has rich sponsorship and a full schedule. Actual facts paint a vastly different picture than the bleating of a handful of kids. The remainder of your off-topic straw grabs are simply repetitive nonsense we've heard before from the handful of you. 'How Mark Miles let a SUPPOSED known IRL/IMS/Indycar blackmailer back into the henhouse is beyond me. But, I know you all love it now.' Well, finally. Something that resembles the topic. Congratulations. I suspect Miles knows more than any of us about the deal. As for 'loving it now,' that is yet another failed attempt at pulling something out of thin air. As previously stated in a coherent manner adults are able to comprehend, I would like to know the details of the deal, and more specifically what eliminated Hoosier from consideration. The notion they could become involved in Lights is intriguing and I would also like to know more about that as well. 'Love it?' Hardly. I would need to understand it before loving it. Capiche?
          • Randy LOVES NBCSN (Versus)
            Hay you IRL haters, did ya see this? http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2013/01/fmr-indycar-ceo-bernard-seemingly-no-fan-of-nbcsn/ Why is Randy acting like an ADULT in this article? Could it be this quote: "In 2012, IndyCar viewership fell to the lowest level on NBCSN since the network began televising races in 2009." All is well you adults and media insiders. Mark Miles, are you gonna address this?
          • Firestone Changes
            I hope some of you guys realize that both Speyer and the other top exec are leaving after May with new leadership in place for Firestone. Obviously they want to be in IndyCar until 2018 I think it will prove fruitful for the series.LOL.
          • What Does This Have To Do With Firestone/Hoosier Again Chief?
            Chief, also not sure what that off topic rant has to do with Firestone/Hoosier, but yes...I saw that. Did you also know that Bernard is now the CEO of a smaller national network? Are you also aware that one of the first statements Mark Miles made after he started was firm indication that he intended to work more closely with television partners from day one? Why would Randy be chiding an article that says IndyCar's viewership fell to its lowest level on NBCSN when he was running the show during that time? Would that not be a little like the children of the cart chiding IndyCar even though they tried to kill it? Chief, could you try to stick to the topic for once and leave the chiding to someone with creativity? The neanderthal approach you are taking only embarrasses you and your kind.
          • Come on
            All hail Mr. Miles the great emancipator! You were buying tickets in 1959 pops, this ain't "Hammer time" anymore. Remember, I want AOW to survive...I listed the things needed in the sport and asked why we can't get answers from the people who are running the sport. You harping on Firestone when it's a done deal only means you probably ought to get a nurse to help ya find your dentures, gramps. You mentioning CART only seals the deal for me....BWAHAHAHHAHA!
          • Defender
            Tiny D, You sure know how to shut up those cart losers and tell everybody how great everything is with the IRL. Based on reading your posts, I'm now convinced that the Indy 500 is the most important race in the history of the world, that the TV ratings are better than they've ever been, and that attendance is growing faster than the promoters can put in seats.
          • Turn13 / doitagain
            Turn13 / doitagain, By the way, which way is the wind blowing today? It's so hard to tell when you're around. Come 'on back to smack. Everyone misses your insightful opinions, not to mention your typos that embarrass you so much.
          • In A Giving Mood Today
            'Great emancipator?' Huh? I'm simply optimistic someone that possesses sports and business chops over a long period, an outsider, has been charged with running the entire show. Should anyone who is an adult wait and see? As a ticket buyer since 1959, I have every confidence AOW will not only survive, but thrive. I feel badly that cart offed itself, twice, and obviously some of their sycophant, bitter 'fans' have not yet gotten past it. That is a genuine shame, particularly when they attempt to project the failures they endured onto something that is successful. I am only harping on Firestone because THAT IS THE TOPIC. Also, I still have all of the teeth that arrived about the time I hit the second grade, a period you and your little buddies are evidently still enjoying. '...Based on reading your posts, I'm now convinced that the Indy 500 is the most important race in the history of the world...' For IndyCar, it is, in fact, the most important race in the history of the world, something history has conclusively proven. '...that the TV ratings are better than they've ever been...' Actually, you are woefully misguided in that cute interpretation. TV ratings have been much better, especially when there were only three or four channels in any given market, no Internet, no real competition and no obsessed children with ADD. In 2013, however, they are merely normal with room for growth. '...and that attendance is growing faster than the promoters can put in seats....' Also pretty far off base. Attendance for the season is well over a million, there are several sellouts and the Indy 500 draws hundreds of thousands. That is, in fact, impressive, but most venues will sell you a seat because they are available, and proportionately IndyCar faces the exact same attendance challenges at most venues as the vast majority of other sports and entertainment offerings. Is there anything else I can attempt to clear up given your impressionable, underdeveloped young mind?
          • JT, That was the point of my original comment. First a long term deal is good for the series. How good depends on the details. That is why I think this article was prematurely written. You have Anthony going from fact to his opinion, but he has nothing solid to base his opinion on. Burl, So some idiot talk radio host doesn't know NASCAR from Indycar and I am supposed to be concerned? Many talk radio hosts do not know their head from their rear. If you cataloged the simple mistakes most of those folks make, it would fill a library. For that matter, to call Ashley Judd a B lister shows his ignorance. Not to many B-listers get nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes. But again, the haters are desperate to find anything to use against Indycar. As usual, the haters have turned away from the discussion topic and are off on a million rants to try to prove that the series they hate, yet spend quite a bit of time talking about, is horrible.
          • Your Gish Gallop has NO giddyup
            Look Mr. On-Topic, unless the world has changed recently, ROI is important for investors of the sport....BOTH fan and sponsors alike. Providing proof the sport stinks always puts your blinders on so all topics pertaining to ROI are relevant. After, you don't suspect Firestone blackmailed IMS into giving it a new contract extension, do you? Someones paying for that and it isn't from TV viewership, is it, Einstein? Or are the goons over at SportsBusinessDaily or Deadspin just making things up to mess with NBCSN? I'm sure there is a buyout clause for Firestone....0.18's pay a lot of bills,,,,,not.
          • The Whackiness of 'End Is Near' Sign Wavers
            '...Look Mr. On-Topic, unless the world has changed recently, ROI is important for investors of the sport....BOTH fan and sponsors alike...' Very well. If Firestone felt there was no ROI in their involvement, why would they re-up through 2018? '...Providing proof the sport stinks always puts your blinders on so all topics pertaining to ROI are relevant...' What empirical evidence do you have that demonstrates IndyCar or Firestone is not receiving ROI (other than desperate and mostly pointless, off topic meandering)? '...After, you don't suspect Firestone blackmailed IMS into giving it a new contract extension, do you?...' Actually, I believe it was probably a bendover to squelch the latest paddock mutiny attempt by self-interested self-immolation experts. That is largely what is known as my 'opinion.' '...Someones paying for that and it isn't from TV viewership, is it, Einstein?...' The concept of revenue derived from television viewership is often viewed in woefully simplistic, misunderstood terms by those ignorant of how that process actually works. The facts, on the other hand, are that IndyCar earns millions each year for rights and a cut of the inventory, which is mostly sold out. CPM for CPM, IndyCar remains a great value. '...Or are the goons over at SportsBusinessDaily or Deadspin just making things up to mess with NBCSN?...' The piece in question is largely an interpretation by a columnist. Not a fact-based piece. No one believes they are 'goons' (that's your description) and I believe Bernard's failure to get the 12+ overnights to a level the children of the cart deem subjectively acceptable was more the result of being hamstrung by Belskus and overly conservative family ownership. He is actually not allowed by contract to comment one way or the other so, again, the thing on which you pin your cutesy li'l indictment is the opinion/interpretation of some columnist. '...I'm sure there is a buyout clause for Firestone...' Be sure to let us know when they exercise it. Given your continuing obsession with all things IndyCar, I doubt we would have to wait long. I suspect, however, five years will go by with no such action. '...0.18's pay a lot of bills,,,,,not...' How would you know? Again, do you have any empirical evidence? I did not think so. And fortunately, the .18's to which you so obsessively refer are outliers and only in limited events carried on NBCSN, often in fringe viewing periods, and not on ABC. Smart adults are capable of separating that fact from the doomsday prophecy you have been incorrectly portending for sixteen years. Grow up.
          • UhHUh
            Actually, 0.18 was the NBCSN rating for 2012 IZODcarz Iowa (2nd gratest race evah). This race had a 6 hour window with promo hoopla and FILR race and IRL qualifying lead-in PLUS extra special side-by-side restarts with Saturday night USAC qualy inversion. Pffffffft. I suspect offering a "doubleheader" in 2013 and aligning it with F1 coverage is gonna increase TV coverage 100%, huh? That's gets ya to 0.36. Hooohaaaa, Firestone still gonna get their money from the IMS man!!! More blackmail I'm sure. I might just go get me a set of FirehaWks now, maybe even some Hoosiers.
          • A Literate Statement of Facts
            '...Actually, 0.18 was the NBCSN rating for 2012 IZODcarz Iowa (2nd gratest race evah). This race had a 6 hour window with promo hoopla and FILR race and IRL qualifying lead-in PLUS extra special side-by-side restarts with Saturday night USAC qualy inversion. Pffffffft...' As previously stated, a statistical outlier in a fringe viewing period (10pm eastern). The race was enjoyable (and sold out again) in person. '...I suspect offering a "doubleheader" in 2013 and aligning it with F1 coverage is gonna increase TV coverage 100%, huh? That's gets ya to 0.36...' Uh, no. But incremental increases are likely. As a road racing enthusiast you must be overjoyed with the new US home of Formula 1. '...Hooohaaaa, Firestone still gonna get their money from the IMS man!!! More blackmail I'm sure....' I think that's bass akwards, kid. IMS does not enter agreements that do not make them money. '...I might just go get me a set of FirehaWks now, maybe even some Hoosiers....' Not me. The last two sets (one Firestone and one Bridgestone) I bought whistled badly and did not hold up well. Sponsor loyalty is commendable, but I demand quality.
          • Quality...would you even know if you had it?
            I doubt it... the six hour window started at like 5PM and had the opportunity to attract all them NBCSN folks viewing during the lead-up to the race and frankly it didn't. Also, whether sellouts are 100 people or 10,000 I reckon the fact it's a sellout is more important to you. You loved the quality of the 8 year old crapwagons paraded into the back-breaking and maiming they did too. I can't see where you as a consumer have any credibility when it comes to recognizing "quality" anything, even when you digest everything that isn't.
          • Sparring With 2nd Graders
            '...I doubt it... the six hour window started at like 5PM and had the opportunity to attract all them NBCSN folks viewing during the lead-up to the race and frankly it didn't....' In an effort to better educate yourself, research how well sporting events do on television at 10pm on a Saturday night. Or you could just continue concocting nonsense, which is far more likely. '...Also, whether sellouts are 100 people or 10,000 I reckon the fact it's a sellout is more important to you...' Or 35,000 to 40,000 in Iowa. Great crowd for the middle of nowhere. '...You loved the quality of the 8 year old crapwagons paraded into the back-breaking and maiming they did too...' Stay classy, Chief. 'crapwagons?' What are you...5? Another of your little juvenile tactics is trying the 'breaking and maiming' cars for no apparent reason. Again, grow up. Enjoy the racing, as I have for decades. I liked the old car and I like the new car. What happens on the track is always special. Try to grasp that once in a while. '...I can't see where you as a consumer have any credibility when it comes to recognizing "quality" anything, even when you digest everything that isn't....' It's pretty easy to decide whether or not you like a tire, son.
          • New car is all you
            It's ugly. And yes it's a big part of the problem whether it's got Firestones on it or not. There is NOTHING Mr. Miles can do about it either. Nothing can be done...nothing. That's an adult telling it straight, Gramps.
          • I am not sure what is more entertaining that Chief considers himself an adult or that he thinks he tells it straight. I am not sure how many adults would spend great amounts of time following and ripping on a racing series they claim they hate. Most adults would have found another past time to fill their free time. Sorry Chief, no one on here considers you an adult. A small petulant child who is throwing the worlds longest temper tantrum maybe, but not an adult.
          • wrong again
            Just exposing the failures of IMS. And Indycar. Like an invesigative reporter exposing shams, yes-men and scammers. Proof is all there, none of you want to see it. Your refusal to acknowledge any problems clearly exemplifies the over plagues the management at 16th and Jonestown. I hope Mr. Miles sees exactly the behaviors of the supporters of his series here.
          • As Adult As Ever
            '16th and Jonestown?' Stay classy. And credible. LOL.
          • Always
            Glad to amuse you. Just like IMS...you ignore the true message. Where's all the new eyeballs going to come from? NBCSN? Firestone sidewalls? The pathetic marketing the series does? Zip-lines? Market Square car shows? Super Bowls? Indy football tie-ins? Face it, IMS is only in this to save Indy, not the sport. The failures continue to mount while you lemmings keep goose-stepping. Perfect adult behavior.
          • Well, The Firestone/Hoosier Subject Is All The Way Off The Rails Now
            Oddly, the sport has been around for over 100 years. I suspect it will be around for another 100. The one sure thing on which we can all count is 100% incorrectness, both literal and political, in your whacko, obsessed 'end is near' yelping. IMS wanted me to pass along their thanks for your rapt attention, albeit juvenile. When will you make at least a cursory attempt at something resembling maturity?
          • Doubleheader in Toronto?
            Hope the series worked out a good deal with Dallara....170 weekend race laps equals carbonfibre bits-a-plenty. Better get piloto Paul Tracy to drive/promote this baby. Maximize the wrecks equals more butts in seats. SPEC Indycar gets beat again, even NASCAR has 3 different chassis this year. Again, Indy is a day late and a dollar short...just like always, even with the faux-bodykits. Mark Miles, that is the perception of your series and the 500 these days. The ICONIC car is is joke. This is the true perception in the sport.
          • I Thought The Subject Was Tires
            What about the tires?
          • Classic!
            I was telling a friend of mine yesterday about this Firestone thing. He used to crew for a Busch GN team many moons ago and more recently stooged for a WoO team hsi brotehr-in-law in involved with. We got to talking. Said he watched the "500" last May but hasn't seen many of them in the past decade. Why? "It's all euro-girlie anymore." Euro-girlie. Too funny. Too true. And why so few watch or care. It went from masculine, All-American red,white, and blue, guys from Spokane, Bakersfield, and Ft. Worth, seemingly NASA-like or AJ-ish, to a five-foot tall girl and male dancers. It's really to faux-sophisticated and girlish to most. That is why things stink, Dipsicle. You are into a sport that has diminished in popularity because it seems panty-waist and popsicle to the masses.
          • Another Desperate Reach By The Obsessed
            Perhaps you should hang with those more evolved from a neanderthal state. This is 2013. You and your li'l friend would do yourselves a great service by orienting yourselves there. There are foreign and female drivers involved. You might pass along to your buddy that the series champion is an all American red white and blue dude. If that is why you believe it 'stinks' you are grasping desperately and woefully out of touch with the rest of society. On a brighter note, you might want to watch something that appeals to your base instincts. The new season of Honey Boo Boo begins soon. Enjoy.
          • Mark Miles, CHECK this OUT!!!
            Mark...I see the Indy Qingdao 600 scored VERY high TV ratings...almost as high as the Indy 500. Eyeballs apparently are available for the asking IF the there's a product folks want. Checkout where the Indycar Series you control matches up with other sports competition...not a Firestone sponsored race to be seen OR on a NBCSN network either: http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2013/01/2012-numbers-game-the-most-watched-sporting-events-of-the-year/
          • Still No Tire Commentary
            Is THIS the point at which we should begin screeching uncontrollably and preparing in earnest for 'the end?'
          • No panic needed
            Don't panic....this is how the series has been run since 1996. No need to change anything. Keep it the same.
          • Just an observation
            If it continues holding your rapt attention to the degree it obviously does, then things could not be better.
          • A Casual observation
            As Mr. Mark Miles would attest, it's not my rapt attention that is needed to sustain the ZERO growth opportunities in Indycarz. How's the "CARTOWN" indy gimmick on Facebook working out? Man, that put butts in the seat, huh? How's that "Hollywood Office" doing? What? They closed it? Go figure.... And now, DOUBLEHEADERs because the series can't get a promoter to pay sanction fees for the garbage product Indycar puts out. Geez, you'd think SOMEONE in that administration of geniuses could figure this thing out. Bloviate on that, o' bulbous one.
          • Endorsed?
            Te fans who endorsed the product also were fewer, both in the grandstands and as television viewers. The notion that the product has been endorsed by the fans is proved false as a result of these facts (diminished attendance and ratings). Perpetuating a falsehood doesn't magically make it the truth.
          • They also have . . .
            Declining attendance and television ratings. Those are simply facts, in spite of your assertions to the contrary. No one can be a defender of you when you engage in dishonesty.
          • Tim Cindric KNOWS Indycarz
            Did ya read Tim's opinion piece over at Racer.com? No? Get on over there and read it you Indy lovers. Pretty much echoes EVERYTHING the haters have been saying since 1996. Here's a quote: "I love IndyCar racing, but unless someone at the top recognizes that the technical aspects of IndyCar are what made it what it once was in this country, it will continue to lose the interest of those that supported it most. The same teams and drivers win regardless of how hard the current rules makers try to dumb down the cars and limit the testing." http://www.racer.com/opinion-tim-cindric-on-indycars-present-and-future/article/275057/2/
          • Seizing Opportunity
            Did he say anything about tires, which is the focus of this Anthony blog?
          • Burgers and Fries
            Indy Car racing was popular when it was burgers and fries guys, a bit more polished up than the stock car boys, and in a variety of cars with different types of engines. Not so fancy pants, techno-wizardry, but growlers, lean and mean. Lots of red, white, and blue colors with a touch of international flavor from personable and dashing men's men from overseas. Not euro-girlies and South American copacabana boys. Guys were names AJ, Pancho, and Johnny. They had nicknames like the "Flyin' Hawaiian", "The Gas Man", and "Lonestar J.R." The sport was both denim and sport coast. Sophisticated yet middle-American. Beer and BBQ sauce minus the Southern redneck stock car thang. Men were men. Women watched them not raced them, except Janet Guthrie, a unique driver and perfectly fitting in. Then came feminists and models and phoney-balonies. A Teo Fabi would show up or Emerson, Luyendyk, Mansell, and legitimize the sport as truly "international" at the same time it was middle american. Kanaan would fit in back then. Maybe Dixon. That's about. Simona would have been a driver's wife. Danica would have been a pit reporter. Smoke? That was a joke. This sport was dope. That's my report.
          • What happened to the GAG Rule?
            Why is this Tim Cindric mouthing off? I thought Ropin' Randy had everybody under lock and key (aka the "conduct detrimental to Indycar" rulez)? Strangely, Tim Cindric said nothin about the Firestone tire deal...hmmmm. He missed a golden opportunity to tell the world what a great job Mr. Mark Miles is doing YET he chose to "slander" the sport. OUST Cindric? No way...as a colleague put it, Cindric IS Penske's mouthpiece. Get handle on this PRONTO, Mark! I wonder how much of Firestone/Bridgestone Penske actually owns? Blackmail INDEED!!!! And, IMS sanctioned!!!
          • Indy Car Racing's real problem?
            "Ugly" is the one word description of the fanbase I got from a man who's company sponsored an Indy Car a few years ago at the Speedway. I met him at the gym yesterday and he was wearing an old Luyendyk T-shirt from years ago and so I struck up a conversation. He said he didn't really like Indy Car racing anymore and went to say he watched NASCAR and why should we be surprised? I think it is the fans that hurt this sport the most. He said there were many fans who said or emailed mean and vicious things about the Indy car driver of the team they were involved with that were "uninformed" and undeserved and the thing that got him the most was "unsolicited, unwanted" advice from "know-it-all-fans." He said his company has had involvement in other sports as well and Indy Car racing was the "most hostile." He said Golf was the most accomodating and "cool." He's right. The fans are ugly. I'm not a fan. I hate on the ugly the sport is now. Just read Trackforum to see how ugly the fanbase is. Bufugly beyond recognition. The guy is right. Oh yeah, and a real funny, he said Donald Davidson was "kind of a weenie." Ha!

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          2. If you only knew....

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