Information leaks threaten to sink IndyCar, Speedway

March 6, 2013
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I wasn’t as interested in the content of the Boston Consulting Group’s blueprint for the IndyCar Series’ future as I was with how that information was disseminated, or rather leaked to the press last week.

I suspect Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles or one of his minions might have intentionally leaked the report as a way to gauge public response to some of BCG’s recommendations such as a season-ending IndyCar road race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or a three-race postseason format.

Since I was informed this week—even after the Associated Press got a hold of a copy—that the blueprint was strictly an internal document, I have to assume the leak was an inside job.

When I asked Speedway officials how AP got the information, I received a three paragraph non-answer to that question. This curious sentence was included in the explanation: “At this point, there has been no authorized release of any of the work product that BCG provided to Hulman & Company during its engagement.”

So I have to assume, if I’m being told the truth, that the release was unauthorized. If I’m Miles and I didn’t poke my finger in the information dam myself, I’m finding out pretty quickly who’s responsible.

It probably seems odd that I would argue that such leaks must stop, since I have been the benefactor of leaks about IndyCar and Speedway happenings in the past. And no, this isn’t sour grapes. I applaud the AP for breaking the news last weekend.

But in the case of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series, the continual dripping of information out of the mothership is making the organization look unprofessional at best and dysfunctional at worst.

Are the information leaks Miles' biggest worry? Maybe not. But the scariest thing for the Speedway and IndyCar Series is that the breaches could indicate there are forces within the organization’s leadership pushing in different directions. If I’m a sponsor or a potential sponsor, that gives me pause to get involved with such an organization.

The drippy faucet act at 16th and Georgetown goes all the way back to the firing of Tony George as the head of the Speedway in 2009. How does something like that leak out when most members of your board of directors have the same last name? There’s really no excuse. Even if you’re grinding an ax, at some point you have to realize you’re hurting the business.

Last year, the firing of IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard was leaked out so many times that when it really happened, no one believed the IBJ when we reported it. For the record, that tip back in October did not come from a Hulman-George family member. It came from a source within the racing industry because Speedway officials did a poor job of managing the information flowing from their business.

In the past few weeks, the drips have kept coming, and the integrity of this organization is getting soaked. The dismissal of several IndyCar Series middle managers and a change in position for a couple high-ranking Speedway executives seeped out, and then the Boston Consulting Group recommendations. The Indianapolis Star Statehouse reporters who in February sniffed out the $100 million tax break the Speedway was seeking seemed to catch IMS officials totally flat-footed.

How could someone as politically savvy as Miles, who has worked for high-level Republicans Richard Lugar, Dan Quayle and Bill Hudnut, not know some ink-stained wretch was going to seize that tasty tidbit of information? A proactive approach, rather than a reactive one, might have worked better there.

If Speedway and IndyCar officials are annoyed that the rumor about the series and Speedway being for sale keeps cropping up in the media, they only have themselves to blame.

With so many leaks at the Speedway’s ivory tower, every piece of information—and even misinformation—must be scrutinized by the media. Those leaks have created a slick of confusion reminiscent of when the Indy Racing League split from CART.

Team owners and other paddock insiders aren’t without blame. They chatter more than teenage girls at a Friday night football game. They’ve yakked out of school about things like the series’ tire deal and parts prices, not to mention Bernard’s future—when they’d have been better served by shutting their traps and letting the information be disseminated in an orderly fashion.

Leaks are good for the journalism industry. They’re certainly good fodder for blogs, chat rooms and message boards.

But for the IndyCar Series, it makes it look like the wheels are falling off.

As a journalist, I say keep the leaks coming and let the good times roll.

As a native Hoosier and one who has no interest in seeing this series self-destruct, I say someone needs to put the brakes on this nonsense.

  • Speedway
    Wake me up when this is over. I'm going to Alice's restaurant because you can get anything want*
  • Finding a new scapegoat!
    As much as the amateurish media in Indy have enjoyed beating up Tony George over the past several years for his management of his business, you must be frustrated with having the teflon-coated Mark Miles in charge.
  • idiot
    Waste of time reading this.
  • Speedway
    If you are so interested in the Series and IMS and not wanting to see it "self-destruct" then why don't you try writing something POSITIVE for a change??? 2012 had the BEST racing in years, Championship not decided until the closing laps at Fontana and an AMERICAN CHAMPION !!!!! Try writing about some of those things for a change ... OH and BTW, just how many races do you attend ?????
  • Too Funny
    The gang that couldn't shoot straight STRIKES AGAIN! Someone's head should be on a platter and can't be Fabrizio del Monte's. Bwahhahhahaha! This more fun than a barrel full-o-monkeys!!
  • Negative Again And Again
    I was hoping that local champs, IBJ, would at least try to put a slightly positive spin on this story. But I was wrong! Just like Robin Miller, NBC Sports, Oreo over at ESPN and everyone else in the motorsports media brigade this has been about highlighting the failures of IMS, Hulman and IndyCar just can't stop screwing up. DID ANYONE THINK THAT THIS WHOLE THING IS DOOMED BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT WRITE ABOUT IT WANT IT TO BE? I thought the "leak", and the report had some interesting points. And most importantly it shows the Miles, the Hulmans and everyone else involved are at least being proactive in trying to make this whole thing work.
  • Post season race?
    Let's do it! I'd buy a ticket! Prefer IndyCar over Nascar any day, any way.
  • Tin Foil Hat Time
    And now a basic tutorial on how things run in the actual business world. A simplistic list of a handful of bullet points that 'leaked' to the press probably weren't 'leaked' at all. Some (but not all) easily digestible talking points were 'released' in such a fashion that the gullible might infer some inner strife based on malcontents in the organization when in reality making bullet points public was probably carefully choreographed. Look at this logically. Boston Consulting Group is widely known worldwide for their expertise, experience and professionalism. They have a strong reputation. If they did, in fact, charge H&C 1.2 million dollars, their study, evaluation and follow-up is going to include far more than a handful of talking points. Perhaps Miles and crew wanted to take the temperature of the public based on a few bullets. That seems far more likely than the conspiracy theory I have now read. H&C is going to get a whole lot more for their money than a page of talking points, and they no doubt have far more to absorb prior to actions. Private companies drive curious outsiders absolutely crazy. If unhappy campers exist who are willing to risk their jobs through such espionage, surely 'well placed high ranking inside sources' could be used to 'flesh out the truth' right? At this point it is safe to say that feedback to Miles and crew has been quite forthcoming. Pundits with access to column space have tripped over themselves to get thoughts into print since the 'leak' occurred. If they pay attention to obsessed fans squatting on the Internet most of them have weighed in as well. The real evaluation and digestion of the meaty components is occurring well out of the public eye, and there is no doubt a lot to absorb. I advise patience and more concise due diligence if any real story is to be fleshed out. Positioning this as anything even remotely resembling controversial seems ludicrous.
    • missed opportunity
      A former sportswriter's observation ... missed a real laugh line. It's not the Speedway's Ivory Tower, but rather "Ivory Pagoda."
    • Flying machines in pieces on the ground
      Hey Chief. How about that Nationwide series car getting airborne. I'm sure you were shocked. Maybe it's just a racing thing after all
    • Truth is...
      ...the Indy Car series is in an inverted dive, with IMS stuck to its nasty underbelly. This is an ugly death. People are just not into the sport anymore. Big time auto racing is boxing and horses. Dispicable can waste his time with the above gobbledy-gook, but truth is, the sport is in unrecoverable status. EVERYONE, seems to recognize the one, salient fact that cripples the future of this sport and will cause its eventual death: It is unpopular and people do not care. Target the 250,000 to 300,000 fans it has left across the USA with a small, 4 or 5 race per year, semi-pro series that gathers annually for the historic Indianapolis 500, presented by the State of Indiana in conjunction with USAC. Quit trying to make this a big league sport. It is not. Nor will it ever be. It is done as anything other than a small, niche sport centered around a Kentucky Derby-like, heritage event.
      • Waste of time
        I just got back from a luncheon where Mark Miles was the speaker. I think I gained a lot more understanding about the Speedway and its issues from his 15 minute talk than I got out of reading this article. Where do I go to get my pixels back?
      • Useful Idiots
        I agree, the leaks out of Hulman and Company make them look like a bunch of small town gomers. They also make the media who repeat them complicit in the whole scheme as useful idiots for spreading the rumors. To their credit, there are plenty of real journalists covering IndyCar who will not put out a story based on rumors and hearsay. If you’re so concerned as you say, Instead of complaining about it, why don’t the rest of you “journalists” (quote marks intentional) do a little real journalism and expose the leaker. Talk about the story of the year. If you’re as good a journalist as you think you are, I’m sure by now you have a pretty good idea who’s behind this. What’s more likely is that you and others will continue to complain about the leaks yet fall all over yourselves getting the story out the next time you are the benefactor of such leak.
      • Really?
        What is nothing? IRL, that's what. Kind of funny that anyone would want this travesty to keep rolling forward, leaky o-rings or not. It's been just a rolling abortion with a trailing slick into Turn 1 since it's inception. This is just wonderful news. Best I tighten up the cleats, warm up properly, cause I have a feeling I am going to be kicking this dead mule and it's will be a long season. Wonder if I will make the playoffs. (Playoff in IRLand. Now that is rich...)
      • Hey Skippy
        I'll express my opinion, you express yours. I think your series sucks and is short on life expectancy. I'll repeat. It sucks and is short on life expectancy. But I am glad you are one of the few and the proud. Very few.
        • Mario
          No concerns here. The safety equipment did it's job. Too bad Dan Wheldon wasn't in a tin-top...that's right, he perished in an INDYCAR. Get your facts straight, boy.
        • Please Pay Attention
          How quaint. Wildly off topic diversions into needlessly vapid realms. Topic reminder: This blog concerns BCG/IMS leak conspiracy theories. Not death predictions (a 100% track record of incorrectness ever since the critics deemed themselves chagrined) or death taunting. Focus.
        • Earth Shaking
          Anthony, you should consider writing for the National Enquirer... This is creative writing at it's best.
        • HEAR HEAR!
          A rational voice is heard.
        • Great story
          Your comments are right on target.
        • Really?
          You all really believe that leak of the BCG report was an accident? It helps to counter the rumor that IMS was up for sale. The leak was almost certainly intentional.
        • Who really cares?
          IMS has been manipulating the local media for eons. Most people in Speedway Indiana don't care because they are the benefactors of the manipulation. One thing the folks at 16th and Jonestown need to one cares about Indy anymore, on a broader radius than just Marion County. And, that sentiment stretches from sea to shining sea. So really, what's the difference? The incompetent leadership of the Speedway will ALWAYS make the WRONG decision. Follow your conscience, it's guaranteed to be opposite of Speedway management. It's in the bank!
        • Additional Guffaws
          LOL. IMS is too stupid to manage themselves but smart and sinister enough to not only manipulate the media but kill cart. That's rich. Especially given the lack of respect they are given. I also see you have not matured beyond changing the name of the street that runs along the main straight to something that represents the cultish death of hundreds of people. Classy. I'm surprised that after all these repetitive rants you have not yet moved on with your life as any rational adult would. Odd behavior.
        • Manipulation
          Manipulation can occur without the need for being smart or sinister. One hunedred years of it right there at 16th and Jonestown. It is a prime example of how manipulation can occur through stupidity. You know, like all ovals..saving the oval racin race...roots racers...evil CART owners. Yep...and now the BCG leak. Anthony's correct they are sinking their own ship. Hahhahaha!
        • The sad truth is ...
          ... Burl is pretty much correct. Indy car racing is a niche sport. Even at its highest I don't think Indy car racing was as popular as some seem to remember, but at least it had some recognition among the average sports fan. I've grown up with this sport in my blood. Twenty years ago it was pretty much all I cared about - I would eat, sleep and breathe Indy car racing. Unfortunately, a series of bad decisions stretching back 30 or so years have hobbled the series. The bucket-of-crabs mentality among CART owners led them to snub Tony George, and also to the eventual death of the series. Meanwhile, TG lept from one idea to the next to the next to the next. Some were decent ideas, others were absurd (Gene Simmons? SERIOUSLY?) but ultimately we ended up with a series cobbled together from what was left. limping from season to season. And it seems the revolving door at 16th and Georgetown continues to spin away. Over the years I've managed to divorce my emotions from the series. It's just not worth holding out hope we'll ever get past the current struggles. So I enjoy the races for what they are (and they are pretty good) but I don't harbor any illusion the series will see much growth in the foreseeable future. Sustainability is about the best we can hope for.
        • Dreams of the NASCAR fan
          Thoughts of a true NASCAR fan.
        • AJ
          Don't worry everyone. AJ Almondinger is here to save the IRL and the Indy 500. All them nascar fans are gonna switch and watch the IRL now.
        • Ironic
          Why are the two people who claim they don't care about Indycar, the same two that are posting more comments than anyone else? Makes about as much sense as Anthony's article.
        • Great work J
          You have a future in management awaiting you at the Speedway.
        • Dingy Move
          The mere fact, if this turns out to be true, that A J Allmendinger to IndyCar is the big story or even if it is a little story but a factual event, seriously underscores the horrible decline and sheer desperation Indy car racing is in today. A backmarker NASCAR driver. A man with an odd-sounding, borderline "nerdy" name. Another race car driver in America that people within racing are once again blinded into thinking, by sheer fact their whole lives revolve around racing, is someone peopel actually know and care about. As if it will save the series. It did not work for the equally odd-named Ryan Hunter-Reay, which a local sportscaster last year in L.A. pronouned Ryan Hunter Ree-ayy after he won the title. And it did nothing with the Bryan Clauson dirt car guy. Now Allmendinger? Is that the big announcement tomorrow or actually something sustantive such as: "We have decided to blow the whole thing up and quit. There will be an Indy 500 on May 26, a Pocono 500 in July, and a California 500 in October. That is it. And the Month of May will now be the Week of May, with the opening day of practice on May 19 and the qualifying set for Thursday, May 23. Next year, USAC will run a small, five -race, oval series and it will be a run-watch brung with a $1 million limit on season expenses, total, including the cost of teh car and engine. We're done here." Instead, they are going to drag out Allmendinger? Maybe it will work if they get Scott Riggs and Aric Almirola too. But I just don't see it. She's done, folks, Done.
        • Next Verse Same As The First
          How many times have you posted the same thing now? 101? Predictable. And yet the one thing that never actually seems to happen is the death you screech about so desperately. And wasn't Allmendinger the next great hope of the twice defunct champcar bunch? Your class should be ecstatic he might be going back to open cockpits. I keep waiting for this supposed death but it never seems to arrive. What gives? Have you checked your sanity lately?
        • Bail
          Your buddy Rick Springfield just missed a court appearance.....
        • 25/8
          Good. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of liars, thieves and dysfunctional losers. The sooner the Hulman/George/Carpenter family is gone from IMS*/Indycar* the better and with the right leadership in place both may have a chance at survival. Real survival, not taxpayer funded. Deflection about CART/Champcar from Tiny D and his brother Indyman in 3, 2, 1...
        • Auto Racing finished...
          ...the average person on the street simply does not care about automobiles driving around in circles by faux-"athletes" in a contrived psuedo-sport. Forty years ago it was something interesting. Even thirty years ago. Now it is just cars and celebrity, fake races and phoney outcomes. Sports entertainment. The Indy 500 is no different than NASCAR. The powers-that-be in IndyCar are just not as clever.
        • Spot-on LOL
          Team owners and other paddock insiders chatter more than teenage girls at a Friday night football game.

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