IndyCar Series Starting To See Some Positive Signs Amid Turbulent Offseason
Thursday's celebration at Indianapolis Motor Speedway of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Izod IndyCar Series championship “will be a welcome respite from the controversy that's engulfed the series since the season ended in September,” according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. IndyCar's management has been “nothing short of a disaster since the season ended with the Hulman & Co. board of directors stumbling along until CEO Randy Bernard was let go” in late October. That prompted team owner Roger Penske to call into question the BOD's "credibility over the Bernard firing," while fans were "threatening to never watch another race again." However, Penske last week generated "some positive press" for the series when he offered a ride in the '13 Indianapolis 500 to NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. While Stewart has “yet to publicly respond to Penske's offer,” IMS has started an "online petition where fans can encourage the two-time Brickyard 400 winner to accept the ride.” Broadcast partner ABC “seemed amenable to discussions with IMS about moving up the start time of the 500 to accommodate Stewart,” but IMS has “not said if it's willing to move its start time, and the Indy 500 is a strong enough race that it doesn't need this additional buzz.” But Fryer noted this “shot to the arm right now is good for IndyCar, even as its teams had been doing their part to continue pressing ahead despite the turmoil" (AP, 12/3).
MELTED ICE: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reported IndyCar officials "have decided to close the small Santa Monica, Calif., office designed to assist with contacts in the entertainment industry.” IndyCar Entertainment "opened two years ago at the direction" of Bernard, and it "assisted with several projects, including the animated DreamWorks movie 'Turbo' scheduled to be released in July." ICE consisted of a three-person staff led by IndyCar Senior VP/Media & Entertainment Sarah Nettinga (INDYSTAR.com, 12/3).