It’s not clear who the Indy Racing League board of directors consulted before hiring bull-riding honcho Randy Bernard to take over the open-wheel series.
But it’s clear they didn’t consult Terry Angstadt, and now there are questions about his future with the operation. If Angstadt departs, you'd have to wonder about the future of his top lieutenants; John Lewis and Greg Gruning.
Maybe Angstadt, president of the series’ commercial division, has become disposable in the IRL leadership overhaul. But he seems like the type of guy Bernard might want to reach out to.
That would appear to be more than the board has done in recent times.
Lets not sugar-coast this. Angstadt wanted to be IRL CEO. And he seemed to have the credentials (including at least some racing background) to warrant consideration.
“There was mention of me at some point, and then the process continued along,” Angstadt told Sports Business Journal. “That’s about it.”
Things in the IRL’s sales and marketing efforts have been a long way from perfect—heck dating back to the formation of this series in 1996.
But Angstadt was on the front line of several battles won in the last two years. Those including signing Izod to a series title sponsorship, landing new sponsorships and promotional deals with Apex-Brasil, Coca-Cola, Maker’s Mark, Mattel Hot Wheels, Verizon, Orbitz, National Guard and Peak.
No, the IRL is not profitable, but that bit of wrangling helped close the red gap by about $20 million.
For Angstadt’s part, he continues with his job, spending much of his time recently preparing for the IRL season opener in Brazil, where he’s helped ink a sanctioning deal that will bring the series another $5 million. That’s $2.5 million to $3.5 million higher than the normal IRL sanctioning fee.
None of that may be good enough for the IRL’s new boss.
Bernard has made it clear that job 1 in his new post (which doesn’t officially begin until March 1) is increasing revenue, not cutting costs. He is quite clear that more money must come in from ticket and sponsorship sales as well as other revenue streams.
Taking marching orders from Bernard may be difficult to swallow for Angstadt. Dealing with unkind critiques may prove even tougher.
But with Bernard having the full support of the board (remember he was hand picked by some of them), Angstadt may not have a choice.
If Angstadt finds himself too out-of-step with Bernard, he might find himself marching right out the door. And he’ll take with him institutional knowledge that no amount of bull-riding bravado can replace.