30 January 2010

The IRL Hires a CEO

According to the peerless Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star, Professional Bull Riders, Inc. CEO George Bernard has accepted an offer to become the CEO of the Indy Racing League.

I don't know much about Bernard, other than what I've read in Cavin's articles and his remarks on Trackside last Thursday.  However, this quote he gave Cavin sounds good:

"There are a lot of similarities between the two groups.  The IRL is already (going). All it needs is some direction and some dreams."
Direction and dreams.  Sounds similar to Tom Cruise's Cocktails and Dreams (and I'll let you decide if that's a good thing), but if he can keep the series moving forward and grow it as he did the PBR, things should work out.

28 January 2010


Every once in a while, my work takes me on the road - last week was such a case.

With games in Kansas City and Cedar City, Utah, I had the opportunity to visit two cities (KC and Las Vegas) that the Izod IndyCar Series either races in or used to race in.  And in the case of Las Vegas, I think most IndyCar fans would like to see a return to the track.

20 January 2010

The Oval/Road/Street Debate - A Different Take

Lately, there has been some debate over whether the Izod IndyCar Series needs to return to the all-oval schedule that the Indy Racing League featured upon its inception.  Both Planet-IRL.com and OilPressure.com have tackled the issue, bringing up some interesting and valid points on both sides.

I come down somewhere in the middle.  For me, growing up in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500 was, and still is, boss.  Oval racing is the only form of open-wheel racing I have seen in person, and I find it to make for better viewing on TV, as well. 

But still, I appreciate road and street circuits.  While I have not attended such a race, I plan on it in the near future (though I had to turn down an opportunity to go to St. Petersburg this year, unfortunately).  Maybe Mid-Ohio, we shall see.

As an open-wheel racing fan, I want a balanced schedule - featuring the best long ovals, short ovals and road/street circuits.  The fact of the matter is that in order to identify the best drivers in the IICS is to have a strong mix of these circuits.  It's one of the reasons why I want to see New Hampshire and Phoenix back on the schedule, along with Road America and Cleveland.  

But if the Izod IndyCar Series is going to move forward with a mix of tracks, I say embrace it and let's give the fans a way to further identify the series' top drivers.

19 January 2010

As IMS Turns...

Since the end of May 2009, the ongoing soap opera at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been interesting to watch.  It began with reports of Tony George's ouster as IMS President, then was confirmed during the summer, with George staying on the board and Jeff Belskus assuming the track's presidency.

Now - George has resigned from the board altogether.  What does any of it mean?  Well, short term, George maintains his ownership of Vision Racing.  And with the persistent rumors of his (and John Menard's) desire to purchase the IZOD IndyCar Series, maybe that's what he's planning to do in the coming days and months.

But why walk away from the family business(es) - Hulman & Company, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League, IMS Productions, etc.?  Maybe he was tired of watching the bottom line be cleaned up, resulting in layoffs throughout those various companies.  Perhaps he felt that he, in good conscience, could not remain on the board as others (especially those who showed the George Family and IMS loyalty in the lean years of the IRL) lost their jobs in a difficult economy.

To me, it goes back to last May, when he was forced out of the presidency of IMS.  To be asked to resign as IMS President, and by his family members no less, had to be disheartening.  And this signals to me that those hurt feelings have continued to linger, to an extent.

Now, that's my airchair psychologist speaking.  To be honest, I have no idea whether George resigned because of the scars from last May, hurt feelings because he hasn't been allowed to see the redesigned Indycar.com, a desire to vacation more, or because he wants to buy the IZOD IndyCar Series outright. 

In any case, it's been a helluva roller coaster for George over the last eight months, that is for sure.

12 January 2010

Why It Pays to Have Useless Knowledge

When I was in college, trivia nights were some of my favorite evenings to head out in Boston.  Besides trying to win free merchandise/drinks/etc., I knew plenty of useless information - who played third base for the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, for example (the answer, of course, is the mulleted Kelly Gruber).

So, occasionally, these contest will pop up again, though I don't frequent the bars nearly as often as I used to.  Which is why Twitter can be a nice alternative - last Friday, @IndyTalk offered 10 spots at the Borg-Warner trophy and ring ceremony to Facebook and Twitter followers who could answer a trivia question about Helio Castroneves.

Now, I'll admit, I used the Indy 500 stats page to memorize some quick facts about Helio - and there were some questions I would have no knowledge of (after all, I'm not Donald Davidson).  But I did manage to snag a place in the group for the ceremony, courtesy of a prompt reply to the question, "How many laps has Helio Castroneves led at the Indianapolis 500?"  (Of course the answer is 228.)

11 January 2010

Bringing IndyCar to the Masses, Part V

For Christmas, I received a new addition to the stable of Nintendo Wii games at the house - Indianapolis 500 Legends.  While the game opened to mixed reviews, I will try not to touch on those too much, especially as it came out in December of 2007. 

My quick take - I like the game, especially as it helps a younger generation learn about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Though having to hold down the '2' button for more than 10 laps just about kills whatever hand muscle is between my thumb and index finger.

Still, getting to race authentic IndyCars - from Jack Brabham's 1961 entry to the early 70's model cars that Foyt and Unser dueled in - is a treat for anyone who appreciates the history of IMS and is a solid foundation on which to begin an IndyCar-related racing series.

Which has me thinking, "When will the IZOD IndyCar Series put out a moden IndyCar racing game?"

06 January 2010

So You Want to Start a Race Team?

You're going to need sponsors.  And plenty of them.  With the dearth of sponsors in the Izod IndyCar Series (though it does seem like this is growing), Racer Magazine breaks down what exactly goes into a multi-faceted sponsorship agreement, using Target and Chip Ganassi Racing as its model.

It's a good look into what makes a partnership work and why some potentially strong partnership deals go south.

For the full article, click here.

Bringing IndyCar to the Masses, Part IV

It's tough finding something to write about regularly during the IndyCar offseason.  Add in the fact that I'm on the road during the winter (perks of the sports information world), and I feel like my blog post-rate slows to a pace somewhere near Milka on a road course.

Still, I'll try and tackle a topic today that I began back in October and revisit today: how can the Izod IndyCar Series increase its exposure and either bring back fans or bring in new fans? 

One of the ideas gaining traction in Indycar circles is to begin exploring the possibility of increasing the average speed of an Indycar.  Some drivers have expressed a desire to push the envelope once again to test the limits of car speed and safety.

Tomas Scheckter alluded to it in his interview on "Trackside" with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee, that an increase of speed would not only turn some heads when reading about or attending a race, but bring that element of danger that makes racing so unique back to the sport (and let's be honest, there is a segment out there that still watches racing for the wrecks).

04 January 2010

Ask & You Shall Receive: Ryan Hunter-Reay signs with Andretti Autosport

Over at 16th and Georgetown.com, they are confirming that Ryan Hunter-Reay has signed to drive the #37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport.  It will start as a program for the Indianapolis 500 and go from there, according to reports.

Good for Hunter-Reay, who uttered the quote of 2009 (see our last post), and good for the Izod IndyCar Series, which finally managed to put Izod's poster child into the car featured in last year's Izod IndyCar commercial.  Helps with visibility for all parties.