IndyCar's Randy Bernard revving up his grade

August 12, 2010
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School is in session across Indiana this week.

So it’s only appropriate that we here at The Score review the grade of IndyCar Series boss Randy Bernard.

I’ve been criticized in the past for being too hard on Bernard, who took his post as CEO of the series March 1. Earlier this summer, I graded him a C+ on the job he’s done with the series, simply because he’s done a lot of talking, but really hadn’t accomplished much.

Well, I’m bumping him up to a B-, largely based on the addition of a handful of series and team sponsors and most notably two races (Mid-Ohio and Chicagoland) which have scored some pretty nice car counts.

Chicagoland, set for Aug. 28, has the largest number of entries (29) for an IndyCar race outside the Indianapolis 500. This is a pretty nice turnaround for a series that was worried about putting 20 cars on non-Indianapolis grids earlier this year.

I did some checking around with motorsports business experts and those close to sponsors, and most are saying the car count increase is due to an influx of sponsorship dollars, not ride buyers.

Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka helped put Ed Carpenter on the track and National Tire and Battery put Graham Rahal behind the wheel of an IndyCar.

In my book that’s a pretty good sign, especially at a time when many race grids across a variety of series are shrinking right now.

I’ve also been told by some solid sports business sources that this shows sponsors have confidence in Bernard’s vision for the series. That may be his biggest accomplishment to date. His ability to get them to pour more money into the series will be bigger yet.

Before I get lampooned by the IndyCar Series haters, I realize that TV ratings and attendance are still major issues. Nor am I convinced that Bernard’s solution for a new 2012 chassis is all that. But in the end, I’m big enough to admit, that my opinion isn’t all that important.

It’s the sponsors’ and fans’ opinions that really count. After all, it’s their cash that keeps the series going round and round. And right now, the sponsors are buying what Bernard is selling.

Who knows, at this rate, by the semester break, Bernard could earn himself a B by the professors here at The Score. Let's hope Bernard doesn't let this success go to his head, because as any good student knows, until the year is over, there's alway time to have your grade lowered.

And in the classroom of sports business, an F is never very far away.

  • IndyCar has a 28 car limit at Chicagoland
    Just a heads-up, the field at Chicagoland will be made up of 28 cars, the maximum number of cars allowed at at track like Chicagoland (see: This means someone will be bumped during the 29-car qualifying session.
  • hoosierplew, pay attention now
    For the second time in three races, the sanctioning Indy Racing League has amended its rulebook to allow for a larger starting field.

    Twenty-nine cars are expected at Chicagoland Speedway â?? the most outside of the 33 for the Indianapolis 500 â?? to be entered for the PEAK Antifreeze& Motor Oil Indy 300 on Aug. 28 at the 1.5-mile oval. Rule 8.1(E)(5)(f) caps the starting field at 28 cars for races other than Indianapolis, Brazil, Toronto and Mid-Ohio based on pit lane space. The rule also was amended for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance on Aug. 8 to allow for a 27th entry.

    Anthony, certainly you could also comment on the fact that Sir Randy has gotten the attention of NASCAR (no small feat) Direct shots over the bow with the calendar changes. Chicago/Kansas/Kentucky/New Hampshire.
    All the Irl ever was to NASCAR was a tewl to destroy open wheel racing. Mission accomplished and tewl no longer needed.
    • Truth???
      Your spelling is congruent with your brain. You've been drinking too much league haters kool-aid. First goes your spelling, then your reasoning, then your common sense. There's none left, zero.......
    • TVis going to be the hardest thing for IRL to rectify, if nothing else because ratings are down for many sports, including most auto racing.

      More of a Brickyard concern is NASCAR heaping races around Indy around Brickyard time. In a 3 month stretch there are 5 races including 2 doubles close to Indy.
      June 12: Pocono, Pa.
      June 19: Brooklyn, Mich.
      July 9: Sparta, Ky.
      July 31: Indianapolis
      Aug. 7: Pocono, Pa.
      Aug. 21: Brooklyn, Mich.

      NASCAR needs to quit oversaturating the market. They at least need to remove some of the doubles especially if they are not selling out. All these races on top of each other are canibalizing fans from the other races.
    • Look out, Randy....
      ...seems Anthony's going to grade you on a month by month basis in his desperate attempt to meet an ill-advised mandate to post something (anything!) every day.

      Heaven help Randy if there's ever rain-out....Anthony's evaluation changes on a whim!
    • A whim?
      CF14, I suppose you'd say all of Wall Street operates on a whim. Well, you might not be alone there. Nevertheless, business and business leaders today are rated on performance quarter by quarter (or even more often in some cases). That's the reality of business. And in many cases, I think more than an annual review is warranted for most CEOs. Thanks as always for reading and thanks for your comments.
    • NASCAR
      I think you are right Indyman. I think the KY race will hurt the BY 400. Those that bought tickets to BY400 in the past from KY will now use that money to go to the KY race in their backyard. They will save money. I would say most fans only have enough disposable income to spend on one race a year and they are going to pick the one closest to them. This will hurt the BY400 attendance numbers.
    • For Whom the Bell Tolls
      Mr. Bernard scores high marks on the ICONIC Committee aproach...BUT fails with the outcome. Seriously, did you see the unveiling. GRADE: F

      Mr. Bernard and team has failed to put more butts in the seats: GRADE: F

      Mr. Bernard has FAILED to get sizable ROI from TV ratings. GRADE: F

      Mr. Bernard is being given the brush-off by NASCAR. The 800lb gorilla is unmovable. GRADE: F

      Mr. Belskus is scrambling to prop up the BY 400 to pay for the IRL's failures. GRADE: F

      Everything else (the Baguettes, the Dracoinian dude, the Duno's and the Carpenter's) is just urinating into the wind.

      So, when asked, Anthony et al IRL Speedway types....the bell tolls for THEE.
    • Uh, the lowest car count has been 24
      Hey, Anthony

      "... nice turnaround for a series that was worried about putting 20 cars on non-Indianapolis grids earlier this year."

      Uh, the lowest car count was 24 (dictated by rules because of pit lane space) at Brazil at St. Pete. Every other race has had 25 or more cars.

      I grade you an F for failure to get your facts straight -- again!
    • spot on
      Jonathan, My facts are spot on. Just because they achieved more than they projected doesn't mean they didn't have worries. Those worries earlier this season were very real. Sources inside IndyCar told me that much. Thanks as always for reading, I'll give you an A for that.
      • Word on the street about engines...
        No one wants to participate with Honda because Honda had the 2 year headstart in developing the IRL spec. Another blunder by the speedway....appease your supplier kick-backers. Dallara gets chassis nod...Honda engine nod...why? That's why Bernard (and the IRL) gets F grades.
      • Lets see, Chief gave all F's. Didn't see that coming. If his hate filled posts did not prove it, his lack of even trying to be objective cements it. TG stole Chief's girl and now Randy is sleeping with her. So now whenever people talk about her he gets all pissy and bad mouths her. like most jilted men, Chief needs to lick his wounds and move on.
      • Sources say Randy wants to return it to....
        The glory days of CART. Apparently CART-like changes in the "pipeline".

        If Randy would like to send former AOW fans a signal (smoke or otherwise) DO ANYTHING that might give us that impression. Like start referring to CART success by CART/CCWS drivers in the former all broadcasts. Start celebrating CART as a part of the lineage of AOW, not some phoney "it's is and always was Indy Car" or "open wheel wins" BS. It's insulting to ANYONE who was a TRUE fan of the sport all these past years.

        Randy can do more..err...ANYTHING to make this happen, but has failed to this point. There's the F grade Iman. $675 Million and counting....
      • The fact is
        Carpenter and Rahal are Golden Spoon lineage drivers in the Izod Car Club. I am not impressed. 29 cars, sure. But they are old cars with what is factually, mostly a series of ride buyers and lineage drivers. That being said, no need to pick on Anthony posters. Randy getting progress report cards is a good thing. I like it. Hopefully, Randy is reading.
      • The haters are turning on the host. Not a good idea. but of course we should never say good things about TG, IMS or Randy. Evil people, evil. (cue sinister music)
      • Ignorant Chief
        "A wise man speaks, because he has something to say. A fool speaks, because he has to say something."-Lao Tse. I don't have to explain to you what part of that quote applies to you, do I, Chief?!

      • iman's Racing League
        Indycar racing used to get double digits to the left of the decimal point; now that iman and berwick are supporters, they are happy when it gets double digits to the right of the decimal.

        Cart failed twice because the owners were smart enough to not spend 600 million dollars for a .14 Nielsen rating
      • Wise man sayeth
        I'm a Taoist...with references. A wise man should listen...that is the tao.
      • Yeah Truth, they spent other peoples money. I guess it is easier to throw other peoples money away. cart was no better than the wall street traders who get rich off of squandering investors money.
      • Yeah, this is much betterer now
        Yet, CART's the most successful an American open wheel series has ever been.

        Oh Iman, this is much betterer the IRL way: chased sponsors away, make the speedway solely responsible for providing the life-blood sucking. Instead of self sufficiency now they have to be sucking the Speedway utters for survival. No way that could cost $675+ Million over 15 way. Needs more Rachel's Potato Chips.....
        Bernard will be out within 20 months. Book it. When he got in bed (a little older than the usual boys) with Robin Miller he gave us a hint of what was to come. He is in way over his head. Tony George will be back. Watch and wait. Terry Angstadt should run that place. Belkis is a YESMAN for the Hulman girls. It is ALL wrong over at 16th and G-town. The leauge stinks. The 500 is irrelevant!
      • Larry says, "Where's the Beef?"
        errr, Car,,

        Officials from IndyCar and Dallara met with team leaders over the weekend

        "I thought it was a joke," said Larry Curry, the general manager of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "We still don't have any information. You'd think by this point they'd be able to hand us something in writing. They don't."

        Why do they need a 2012 car when they won't finish out 2011
      • So Chief you agree with taking other peoples money to have your fun and then leave them in the lurch when you run your series into the ground? I did not think you were that bad.
      • HAy LArry
        You can race them purty hollowgrahams they showed you at the unveilling in the Arts Garden on your xBox. Weeeeeeeee.

        And just because Honda started working on its LMP engine 2 years ago and dictated the new spec for the hapless IMS racing league doesn't necessarily give it an unfair advantage.
      • Grade F
        Wow....Larry Curry said that? No rules yet? Bwahahahaha...

        My letter grade of F stands strong. Randy ain't done nothing but reorganize the deck chairs on the Titanic. Iman is in the front seat. Full speed ahead!
      • Yes Mr. Cotman, may I have another?
        Randy just exercised a lack of confidence in Brian Barnhart....

        Tony Cotman has been hired to dictate the 2012 rules package. I reckon that CART PIPELINE above might have some legs. Hired because of his CCWS experience. Can't believe they didn't hire from within the IRL family to do this.

        The CART/CCWS ghost rides herd at the speedway! Iman must LOVE this!
      • This nonsense
        The people of Indianapolis need to give up this antiquated sport and focus on Football. Peyton is getting old and we need to support our football team, this nonsense is taking fans away from the Colts.
      • iman's Racing league
        If the IMSracing league is just now getting around to hiring someone to set the rules package for the 2012hahaha car, exactly what criteria did that vaunted ICOLONIC committee use to decide on Honda and Dalarra? I guess when a rubber stamp is part of the welcoming package, you really don't need any criteria to work with, do you.

        Randy Bernard, slaying sacred cows one by one.
      • Ahh yes, the haters are working themselves into a lather spewing nonsense that only seems to make sense to themselves. I am sure they are used to playing quietly in the corner, because no one has wanted to be near them.
      • Incoherent Drivel
        Iman is babbling again. Tony Cotman now controls the future of AOW. Former CART owners apparently wanted their man calling the shots.

        Randy gets an INCOMPLETE grade...and he's getting a break because he should have had all this in place BEFORE that stupid ICOLONIC Committee announcement (which was nothing but an embarassment, as this Cotman appointment has proven).

        IMS caught with their pants down, again.

        Yet, Iman avoids the issues and chooses to attack the messenger and not the message. Typical Indy place-fan.
      • Brian Lisles weighs in too

        This article supports my F grade of Mr. Bernard. All is well, huh Iman?
      • Sounds like Chief is off his meds again. Bernard gets an F, Bernard gets an incomplete and then 12 minutes later he is back to an F again because someone in a blog agrees with Chief.

        He then starts going after me for addressing Chiefs babbling and not the subject. Excuse me Chief, have you not been reading your posts for low these many, many months? The vast majority are personal attacks against posters who do not agree with you then the facts they present. I would comment on your facts, but you seem to be factless. But then again so are the vast majority of your posts. If questioned about your facts, you either lean on blogs for your "facts" or you attack the questioner. Seriously, get back on the meds.
      • Cotman Hiring is FACT funny! Whether I think CART redux is here or not isn't important.

        I believe the veiled writing on the wall points to someone's inflection that the IRL was the cause for the downfall of the sport and they're trying as hard as possible to return it to CART-like appearance ASAP, PRONTO. What the IRL got for $675 Million is anybody's guess as even control of the sport seems to be sketchy.

        Your mileage may vary.
      • iman's Racing league
        "The truth of the matter is the IRL is on financial life-support, largely paid for by the owners. If it wasn't for the owners, there wouldn't be a series anymore."
      • Buhl's Take on Iman Racing League
        "This is not a business. None of these teams operate as profitable enterprises."
      • Isn't that better than blowing through investors money?

        I thought the cause of carts demise was cart. One of the things I can agree with the haters on. Cart killed itself.
      • The root of IRL problems is itself
        CART's dead, silly. Why does the IRL suddenly want to model itself after CART? The speedway management must be crazy, right Iman?
      • Other than you, who else is saying it is modeling itself after cart? Are they doing away with ovals? Going after mostly foreign tracks? Doing IPO's to waste investors money? Going after foreign ride buyers? Making the racing too expensive for small teams?
      • Yes
        It's Randy himself. Perhaps not the IPO baloney you keep harping on...but just about everything else. And you're gonna love it. Too.
      • "But just about everything else" So you are saying the majority of what I posted is happening? I must really be missing something. I thought drivers like Sarah Fisher were still running small budget teams. that the series is a 50/50 mix of street to ovals. That the cars are affordable and becoming more so. That the vast majority of tracks are in America. I must be missing a lot.

        I am sure you will now claim the Twin races at Texas is stealing from cart even though it had not been done since '81.

        It is baloney that cart took investors money, spent it to make themselves rich and returned nothing to the investor. Classy.
      • two race betterer than one!
        They should do same with all ovals...Indy Twin 250s! They could claim 400,000 at each!
      • 300 better than 2
        they should have 300 one lap races,,,,can you amagione the excitement, the enormous attendance claims?
      • Gimmick
        Gimmick is gimmick. One more sign the end is near. Only Gomertons get all Mikey Kingey over this while slobbering on their Danica tee's.
      • Word out of Indy today...
        Joliet Ill. race OFF schedule for next year. Now you know why the Texas Two Step was artificially keep ovals on the schedule.

        IRL, preserving America's open wheel roots...dumping OVALS handfuls at a time.

        Randy gets VERY high marks for this...right Anthony?
      • Word out of Sonoma today...
        10,000 expected for attendance. Tops. Wow. That is some major league series!
      • Randy's Concerned
        Randy is concerned that the Walmart crowd has been alienated. At least Sarah brings in the Dollar General crowd.
      • What crowd?
        There is a crowd to be had with Izod Club Car?
      • Open Wheel Landscape in the Wake of TOney GEorge
      • NASCAR - IRL Feud
        Word out of Sonoma today....NASCAR going for IRL jugular. IRL seriously contemplating partnering with ARCA because NASCAR won't partner with IRL anymore. They can make no money parnering with the IRL....

        This kind of stuff never gets reported.

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