With Bernard Out, IndyCar Looks For Leadership; Series Nears "Full-Blown Crisis" Mode
The departure of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard "has played out like an episode of Keystone Cops, threatening to push IndyCar into a full-blown crisis,” according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. But the series “doesn't seem to think it has a crisis, even though powerful team owner Roger Penske accused the board of directors of showing ‘poor judgment.'" Penske said, "There is no future plan. They need to realize this will hurt teams with major sponsors. We need continuity." Interim CEO Jeff Belskus said that he "hasn't set an established timeline to hire a CEO.” Fryer wrote IndyCar has “done little to calm the storm brewing since the season ended Sept. 15.” There were “no public reassurances from IndyCar on Monday that everything will be fine, the series can do better without Bernard and that a strategy is in place for growth and stability.” PR firm Tuckahoe Strategies President Ramsey Poston, who previously served as NASCAR Managing Dir of Communications, said, "IndyCar is in crisis. ... Every day that goes by without a leader or a well-defined plan is damaging to the 2013 season and beyond.” But team Owner Chip Ganassi maintains that this “current storm has been blown out of proportion by the media and is much ado about nothing” (AP, 10/29). USA TODAY’s Jeff Olson writes, "It's not so much the decision to get rid of Bernard that makes one question the wisdom of those in charge.” IndyCar "took a multi-million-dollar hit this year from the mismanagement of the canceled race in China.” The issue of the cost of replacement parts "was legitimate, as were questions about scheduling and direction.” But the “real damage comes in the form of public relations, or the lack thereof,” as a “once-proud and iconic sport is undone and embarrassed (again) by politics and those who practice them” (USA TODAY, 10/30).
ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote one issue surrounding Bernard's exit that "hasn’t gotten much discussion" is the "sudden departure in July" of IndyCar COO Marc Koretzky. Koretzky was one of Bernard’s “big hires, and that didn’t end well.” The IndyCar BOD “needs someone to step up and be transparent about where this series stands.” If finances “were a problem in Randy’s tenure, say so.” Cavin: “Show us. Show cause for this” (INDYSTAR.com, 10/29). AUTOWEEK.com’s Steven Cole Smith wrote, “I've been trying to envision some sort of plan, some scenario that the IndyCar board has in mind that will make the firing of Bernard … seem sensible, and propel IndyCar in a positive direction that Bernard could not. Unless 75-year-old Roger Penske wants the job, I can't” (AUTOWEEK.com, 10/29).
TOOK A WRONG TURN: SPEEDTV.com’s Robin Miller wrote, “In the 44 years I’ve covered Indy car racing, nothing compares to the spineless, devious and classless treatment of Randy Bernard." It was "as unprofessional as it was unnecessary and certainly a black eye for a series that is the laughing stock of motorsports today.” This was a “senseless murder of a good man” (SPEEDTV.com, 10/29). Speed’s David Hobbs said, “I hate to see open-wheel racing machine gun itself in the foot all the time. They don’t just take pots shots with a .45, they literally get out the old machine gun and really rake themselves up” (“Wind Tunnel,” Speed, 10/28). ESPN.com’s John Oreovicz wrote this is “indeed a sport in crisis,” and it has been “for the past 30 years.” IndyCar fans are “upset,” as cutting ties with “the guy who has appealed to the fans and expended more energy and effort in running the show than anyone else in the past 30 years emphatically sends the wrong message” (ESPN.com, 10/29).