IndyCar CEO must keep chassis choice from splintering series

July 14, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Today is the day. It’s the day that IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard makes his first enemies in motorsports. It’s also the day we see just how good a CEO Bernard is.

Up until now, Bernard has been the pied piper of open-wheel, earning high marks for his behind-the-scenes and out-front work from almost everyone in racing, including those who torched his predecessor, Tony George.

A pretty smart guy, who happens to be responsible for tens of millions in annual sponsorship deals in three major race circuits, recently told me that right now, everyone absolutely loves Bernard. Mainly, he surmised, because he hasn’t yet made any major decisions.

But what happens when some of those glad-handers find out Bernard isn’t exactly piping their tune?

Along with big decisions comes big controversy. So this afternoon at the Indianapolis Museum of Art when Bernard unveils which chassis formula—or formulas—the  series will adopt in 2012, he’s going to have several camps demanding an explanation for why the formula they supported wasn’t chosen. The announcement is set for 12:30.

I applaud Bernard’s formation of the ICONIC advisory committee to help make such critical decisions, and I love the theatrics of showing the committee vote via video at today’s media event. But make no mistake, this is Bernard’s call. There’s no delegating responsibility here.

“As soon as Randy starts making decisions, he will start to lose friends,” said Zak Brown, founder of Just Marketing International, which represents myriad motorsports sponsors and helped the IndyCar Series hunt for a title sponsor. “He has to stick by his decisions and hope they prove to be right.”

In the meantime, Bernard has to make sure he manages those different camps’ expectations and ensure their continued support for the series. If Bernard has learned anything in the four-plus months since he’s been in charge, I’m guessing he’s learned this sport can’t afford any more chaos caused by split allegiances.

I’m betting Bernard has long been politicking all the camps involved in the new chassis—and maybe most especially those whose proposals lost out.

For all his awe-shucks approach to his job, Bernard appears to be savvy and calculated in the moves he makes and friendships he’s forged.

And it’s a good thing. Going forward, Bernard is going to need all the friends he can get to rev the IndyCar Series to max speed.

  • The Hornets Nest
    Well, here's where the alliance and allegiance will finally test the backbone of the Speedway and the Indy world.

    Of course, my opinion is the speedway will probably take the most conservative approach possible which may equate to ANOTHER spec chassis and a deflated optimism for the future.

    The LAME DUCK 2010 and 2011 seasons will begin today at 12:30PM. That's a long time to play Pinata with the hornets nest....rumor has it certain interests are cuttin' switches for swings at that same hornets nest. Swing away.....
  • C'mon, Anthony
    It's Zak Brown, Anthony.

    Not Zack.

    Speaks to credibility. He's not some guy off the street, he's a player in the racing world.

    If you want to be taken seriously, start with simple facts.
  • Chassis Is Up to Indy 500 Teams
    When the Indy 500 mesmerized a world motorsport audience, the chassis was invented by the race teams.

    Just let 'em run.
  • The Checkered Flag...
    ....falls in 2012. Existing Indy Car drivers need to update the resaume for sports car work. Others are wealthy anyhow and can return to their home country. Some are smart enough to make shift leader after they master fries.
    • Thanks, CoyoteFan14
      I've known Zak for more than 10 years. I know well what he's accomplished in the sport. My apologies for a simple typo. Naturally, I'll aim to do better going forward. As always, thanks for reading.
    • True measure
      I hope Randy chooses his direction carefully. This is one of the biggest decisions the IRL has made in 8 years. I just hope somehow it translates into more fans and TV viewers. That will be the true measure of Randy's success.
    • Burl
      Bogus Burl the Bumpkin and His Band of Blooters opines on his typical foolishness. It's what we should expect from such a jobbernowl.
    • Ok, its official Chief has updated his prediction for the eminent failure of IRL to be both 2010 and 2011.

      Burl is in for 2012. Mark your calendars for those dates because I am sure just prior to, they will readjust them to a future year like they have done since the '90's.

    • So it is Dallara. Interesting choice. Safe manufacturer, bringing design and construction to Speedway is good for the city. Avoids concerns of some of the wilder choices. Crew adaptable parts brings up an interesting twist. Will be curious how that plays out. Will the teams get to decide what wing or sidepods they use for a certain race? If so, then it will be interesting.
    • Liking it
      Like the design. Hope teams will be able to somewhat modify via wings/sidepods to give some visual difference to cars. Like how Dallara will be built in Indiana. Big step forward, much more exciting than the unveiling of the NASCAR cereal box design.

      And SHEESH Coyote, ZACK was a simple typo. Get over yourself.
    • Wings & Things
      Indyman gasses me with all that "curious how that plays out" stuff about adaptable parts and sidepods and such. Is that Gomerton or what? Man, though, is he right! Millions of American races are awaiting in excitement now as to how sidepod use will differ between D & R and Panther. There must be alot of firm appendage right now over these compelling "story lines" and more. Wow. I'll bet Mike King has already broke one and Donald Davidson, well by golly, he must have spittle chin.
    • I'm speechless
      Wow, IMan, give me some props dude, I NAILED that prediction up above.

      So underwhelming was this announcement of a SPEC chassis with aero doo-dads you can craft out of balsa wood or some such materials....seriously, I wanna PUKE. What excitement for the sport left inside of me was shattered by today's announcement.

      Another prediction comes true: The IRL (and AOW) is run by morAns. Now, Randy get's the official "F" grade. LAME DUCK SERIES sponsored by IZOD.

      RUMOR: TORONTO attendance gonna hurt bad.
    • Wow!
      This is just so farkin cool! i mean, what a radical departure from the failed series we have all grown to loathe and detest. they really pulled out all the stops on this one! Racing Legend General Whats-his-name really showed his leadership and racing skillz on this one didn't he?! What are these people thinking?

      For Cryin out loud what a complete embarrassment we are to the racing world. snap on "Mr. Potatoehead Car" ideology using the time tested Dallara Dart, well, this will show the world "we mean business"! Watch out F1 and NASCAR, the mighty IRL is going to roll you over with such innovation and technology! (Will they truly snap together like Legos?)

      I was kinda hopin they would pick the Trident Delta Wing, as at least we could have some fun laughing at the sophmoric attempt and differentiating themselves from the past IndyCar failure chassis, but NO!

      The IRL: Making every wrong turn, AGAIN. RIP!
    • New Speedway chassis
      Since Mr. Looney (who, by his own admission, doesn't know a whole lot about otto racing) wisely chaired the commission that settled on this new Speedway chassis, I suggest that it be called a Looney Toon. All who agree, say "aye"; those who disagree remain silent.
    • Ontario Aluminum Company
      Toronto-based, Ontario Aluminum Co. announced today there is plenty of aluminum available for recycling this summer as the Canadian sports seating giant has seen a "significant downturn" in the purchasing of its latest product, "Indy Car Fan Seat". In a related development, the Izod Car Indy League Series Thingy announced the new 2012 Snap-Tite, Simpleton Chassis, designed to maek it "so easy even a kid could do it" in hopes of attracting a younger demographic to the nearly extinct sport. Talks are also underway to move the TV contract to theCartoon Network.
    • Grate choice
      I think it is grate that the teams can keep their 8 year old chassis and just put the new appendages on them. The members of the ICOLONIC panel really earned their keep and kept their reputations intact with this game changing decision.
    • A Frayed Knot
      I did notice that TF was shut down today, was there a mutiny?!

      Seriously, this is just such a disappointment today and quite indicitive of the interest in the once mighty sport. I honestly thought that when Anton got the shaft that something better HAD to become of this, but alas....

      Lemme axe the IRL faithful: Have you finally had enough? If you truly enjoy the sport of Open Wheel, why isn't F1, the pinnacle of worldwide motorsports, enough?
    • That is unusual, the haters are finding fault with the IRL. Who would have guessed.

      If i am understanding this right, this is a pretty good idea. The tub is standard and manufactured by Dallara. The aero pieces from wings, side pods etc... can be be built and adjusted by the teams and by other manufacturers. If that is true, then this coupled with opening up the engines specs takes this from being a spec series to a more open series. I like the name Mr. Potato Car. One base car, infinite combinations of design. And all this at 45% cheaper to run which gets us closer to the vision.

      Lets see how it works out.
    • Know kiddin?
      Indyman showin Da Hooey da Love? :eek:

      I am sorta proud of that little nickname. Mr. PotatoeCar, only Dan QuAYles and tONeY geOrGE coulda doned betterer. Shall I be callin my Patent Lawyer?!
    • Actually that would be a trademark, not a patent. If Pat Riley can trademark three peat, you should get Mr. Potato Car.

      In Quayles defense that was less about his inteligence and more about the shoddy tools schools have to work with and a politicians reliance on cue cards.
    • Welfare queens of the earl!!!
      I really applaud the part about the gomer home teams getting welfare from the state government. That's gotta make all those rugged individualists who want government off their back in gomerland just seethe with rage, no?


      Is this a welfare-to-work kind of program, or just a straight-up smash & grab? Either way it's comedy silver.

      As for the new crapwag... er.. car? It appears to no longer be an open wheel vehicle. Good luck with that.

      code = fkn5r
    • Dan's The Man
      Hey, why drag the former VP into this Izod Mr. Potato Car League Series mess?

      Or is it Mr. Potatoe?
    • IRL to DIE 1/1/11
      Seriously, the Bat-signal was high in the sky this AM with word the IRL moniker and the disasterous 15 year reign of terror will come to and END on January 1, 2011.

      IRL CEO head honcho Randy Bernard made these statements in an online ESPN Q/A late yesterday.

      This is vindication for the haters and there will be much praise for Randall if he can accomplish this.

      "My goal is to have that in place by January 1. There is a lot of legal ramifications to make sure that can happen, because of the contracts and obligations for IRL. That needs to go away. We are known by IndyCar. The IRL has a negative connotation from the divorce in the mid-90s."
    • Well well...
      They've forced out all the original IRL teams, switched to road courses, street races, hired foreign drivers and now race overseas. Recently they fired their Founder, Vi$ionary and Gomer in Chief, Lord Sagamore Anton George. Now they want to change the IRL name, yet the same faithful Gomerati are STILL hanging on?

      Trackforum guys, you really have some SERIOUS koolaid rockin your veins. :rollseyes:
    • "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."

      If the IRL name goes away, it is still the same league. I am sure the haters will dance from the rooftops that they killed the IRL. Sorry, not the case. While I see no reason to lose the current moniker, if the IRL honchos feel it will appease the haters and bring them back in the fold, the so be it. Personally, as many have posted here, the haters will not be happy until they are building tract homes on the still smoking remains of IMS.

      The haters hate the whole concept of the IRL. Just like many did not like cart/owrs/ccws. They changed the name, but the disasterous business plan still killed it.

      No matter the name, it sounds like they are still staying with the vision of the IRL. Lower cost racing, ovals, the opportunity for grass roots American drivers to compete and high quality competitive racing without having to resort to the gimmicks of NASCAR, push to pass not withstanding.

      The more I hear of the Mr. Potato Cars, or transformers as some are calling them, I like it. The best of both worlds. Lower cost of spec tubs with the innovation and creativity of one offs. This goes way back to the roots of racing when in 1911 they were taking factory cars and bolting on accessories to gain advantages. Be it the rear view mirror to eliminate riding mechanic or sloping the front ends in the begining of aero science. This should be good for all.


      Tax credits and rebates are not welfare. Very common in business today. I bet your current employer benefits from some form of credit or rebate. It is a very smart move to boost the racing enclave in Indiana and to give small start up teams the opportunity to go racing.
    • IRL Lame Duckage
      Tax credits and rebates? Who eventually pays for it? The citizens through TAXES, thats who.

      It may be smart economic development on the part of the State of Indiana....BUT the teams that do this will be accepting funds from government to assist in financing this "transition". That is WELFARE.

      This is truely a sign of VERY desperate times at 16th and Jonestown. In the past the Speedway financed these "transition" funds....then they backed they are getting the government to help out.

      Nice. Great plan there IMAN...when you add in the government funding for the current crop of streets circuits and future ones, you have a series you can be proud of as it leeches for survival from the taxpayers. For god's sake, why don't the state just kickback $5 million to the Hulman-Georges and keep this hush-hush?
    • Lead BALLOON
      A quick survey of the media has many racing journos in absolute bewilderment with this ICONIC decision. Many expected the Big Bang....but were rewarded with a fizzled fuse. But seriously, could anyone REALLY have expected anything LESS than the buffoons at IMS?

      "If the panel thinks different bodywork is all thatâ??s needed to pull back the fans they lost to NASCAR, they are sadly mistaken. This is a huge miscalculation."

      • Are they nuts?
        "What was announced was worse than one car: no car."
      • Correct you are
        Indyman, I won't ever go back to Mindy. IMS? Sure - to watch MotoGP and F1, should they ever return. but IRL and Tintops? NOT A CHANCE.

        The IRL: Failure on an ICONIC level.
      • If you honestly think the taxpayers pay for tax credits given to a company, then you are farther out of reality than I thought. But go figure. This is similar to what the State does for targeted industries like life sciences, the film industry and others.

        Dahooey, I am sure you will be missed.
      • SO who pays for it then?
        If I understand this correctly you are saying Tax Credits aren't paid for by the taxpayers? Is that right Indyman?

        Tax credits are offered to entice economic development...which are taxes that the business is given a break on by NOT PAYING or paying LESS taxes. Who makes up the shortfall when businesses or individuals don't pay taxes?

        Open your wallet taxpayers....the IRL needs your ca$H to cover expenses for running the sport into the weeds.
      • Chief,

        the amount of new taxes, payroll, property, sales etc.... created by the new business brought in by these credits will more than make up for the credits themselves. It is basic economic development 101.

        I am sure you knew this, but as typical the hater cannot like anything good that happens to the IRL.
      • Yes, that's the hope
        I understand the premise. They gotta build about 200 chassis @ 7% to recoup....

        And, isn't there a $125K incentive too for the first 28 indianner based teams?

        So yes, taxpayers are fronting the IRL $$$ to dream on.

      • At least we see eye to eye on that.

        The incentive is the tax credit if I read it correctly. Again, a credit against their future taxes that we would not collect if they did not locate/stay here. Very common in economic development circles. the revenue Indiana will get from the businesses that locate here will far exceed any lost revenue from the credits. But of course you knew that.
      • i agree
        I agree Iman....great for economic ddevelopment. I always question the ROI the IRL provides...thats the question here. Can the IRL deliver in a down economy and in the smouldering ruins of the AOW landscape.

        Free Friday's ain't gonna cut it and neither will giving the fans less and less for their money. The IRL has whittled their racing down to almost a one day event. we can do everything to lure the great unwashed to the IRL, but at the end of the day FREE attendance and low tix prices aint even doing it.

        so, like others, there is considerable skepticism as to whether any of this will pay off in the long run. The Speedway is in dire straights to have to turn to the government for assistance to get anything done.

        Bottom line: IRL sucks and everybody knows it.
      • How do you figure the the IRL is asking the government for assistance? So when the State gives tax credits to NHRA teams to locate shops here they are bailing out the NHRA? When the movie industry gets credits for filming here is the State bailing out Hollywood? Again, this is to get teams and suppliers to locate here. Typical economic development.

        Bottom line is you need to get over the loss of your dear cart and either support OW or move on. Spewing your hatred and frustration with losing your series 15 years later seems a little extreme.
      • Reality
        The IRl has been destroying OW for 15 years. kettle meet hog roast pit
      • In essence, yes
        You can bring any example forth you wish...IF the business in question is unsuccessful, the taxpayers accept the burden.

        The IRL is a gamble, a BIG gamble right now. Who's to say anyone will even BUY a safety cell? Or step up to make aero-bits?

        Look, sometimes the gamble pays off...sometimes not. I'm all for Indianapolis being the center of the racing universe again, but, seriously, the actions of the Speedway over the past 15 year yield no confidence in fans and businesses. I wish them the best of luck...but this is tough uphill run they are against.
      • Seems to be paying off. Almost 100 direct jobs from Dallara plant plus spin offs. Several successful teams located here. Several more racing firms joining others located in Indy upping the total count.

        Seems pretty successful so far and just getting better.
      • Don't push it
        "Seems" = almost. Like in hand-grenades.

        Who's been hired so far? How many mystery safety cells have been produced? Who are the aero-bit maunfacturers? Chip Ganassi hasn't even seen the rule book yet or the specs. Wadkins Glen off the schedule...Toronto attendance in TV ratings to brag about on ABC.

        Yep, seems to be paying off.

      Post a comment to this blog

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

      2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

      3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

      4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

      5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.