IndyCar CEO Defends Position, While Series Sponsor Izod Could Be Trying To Get Out
Days after news broke of an Izod IndyCar Series team owner wanting CEO Randy Bernard ousted, he "opened up about his trying week at the helm of America's most dysfunctional racing series," according to Marshall Pruett of SPEEDTV.com. Bernard said, "I have addressed issues this week, and I'm moving on. I am here because of the board of directors, because that's who I answer to, and I am confident they support me." He added, "I didn't say 'attempted coup.' If you read my tweet, I said 'team OWNER'. Singular. And I said, 'disappointing.' I didn't want to be negative. I wanted to be factual. And I wanted to get out in front of the problem. My mentality is, if you back a kitten into a corner, you come out fighting like a tiger. That's how I operate. If I see an issue, I want to head it off." Pruett noted Bernard "also admitted to holding off on publicly admitting the power play that was going on behind the scenes -- something that had been taking place since April -- until after the Indy 500 had concluded." Bernard said, "I felt like a dead man walking for seven days. I had seven days to think about how I wanted to put it out. I didn't want to take anything away from the Indy 500." Pruett noted despite the "semi-unified efforts that existed to remove Bernard, he reminded everyone that he does not indeed work for the team owners." Bernard: "You're going to make people mad along the way. But you have to do what is in the best interest of the sport" (SPEEDTV.com, 6/3). Bernard said that he "wants to work with owners on solutions to address complaints such as controlling cost certainty and believes progress was made during a meeting with them Saturday" (AP, 6/3).
WORDS FROM THE WISE: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote his advice for Bernard is "get over it." He added Bernard "sounds like a desperate soul on borrowed time" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/3). Also in Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote, "Personally I think it was a lot about nothing." A couple of car owners "don't like him, and that's fine." Bernard "needs to avoid responding to things like that." Cavin: "I know he wanted to sound the truth as he sees it and cultivate fan support, which is fine, but now everyone knows what only a few need to know. I'm still not convinced this needed to be a public debate. It looks bad for the series, especially to companies out there considering sponsorship of IndyCar" (INDYSTAR.com, 6/1).
NO COMPARISON: IndyCar driver Paul Tracy said there “isn’t anybody who can replace” Bernard and “I don’t think there’s anybody that wants to replace him.” Tracy: “At the end of the day, he’s jumped into a tank of piranhas and he’s got a couple of nips on him now and he’s got some blood flowing. They’re starting to eat away at him and once that started I think it’s going to be hard to stop.” Speed’s Tommy Kendall said of the idea Bernard is being forced out, “It’s as unsurprising as it is disappointing. Him shining the light on it was a masterstroke and might just get them to back off a little bit.” Kendall said Bernard is “far and away the best they’ve had in a long time” (“Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain,” Speed, 6/3).
EFFECT ON TITLE SPONSOR? Cavin also wrote, "I don't know what the ad buy is for Izod, but I can tell you there's been a reduced presence." Cavin: "I believe Randy told me there was five years left on the contract...One side tells me Izod is negotiating its way out, another is saying all is well. So, I guess we'll have to see which side is telling the truth" (INDYSTAR.com, 6/1). Cavin wrote, "The fact of the matter is, Bernard's future is more linked to IndyCar's financial picture than disgruntled team owners." He asked, "Does Izod stay as designed? Does China work as it is supposed to? Does Lotus remain as an engine supplier?" These "are the things to watch" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/3).