How Dark Is This Latest Black Eye?

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A roller-coaster of a season just took another dip on Thursday when INDYCAR Chief Operating Officer Marc Koretzky suddenly resigned effective immediately. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if Koretzky actually resigned or was pushed out. The few comments by CEO Randy Bernard sort of sent a mixed signal – to me, at least. On one hand, there were signs that the resignation was a surprise, but then there was the ominous comment from Bernard on Friday of “We needed to go a different direction”.

Ah…the dreaded different direction. If you’ve ever been in a job search, you’ve probably heard the phrase “going in a different direction” and cringed. It’s a nice way of saying we’re choosing a path that doesn’t include you. In this case, it sounds like INDYCAR has charted a course that doesn’t include Marc Koretzky.

Koretzky joined the series a little more than a year ago as Director of Business Development after a three-year stint as Director of Strategic Development of 360 Sports Academy in Atlanta. His most notable achievement in his new job with INDYCAR was implementing the festivities leading up to the season finale at Las Vegas last October. Then last December, he was promoted to COO – taking the place of Terry Angstadt.

I don’t consider myself an IndyCar insider, but quite honestly – I don’t recall hearing the name of Marc Koretzky other than announcing his ascension and departure as the COO of INDYCAR. Maybe I’m out of the loop, but I seem to recall hearing Terry Angstadt’s name quite a bit when he was performing the duties of a COO.

Whether or not Koretzky’s leaving was voluntary or involuntary doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that either way – this is perceived as another black eye that Randy Bernard didn’t need. Ever since the ill-fated Las Vegas race, it has been a tumultuous nine months for Randy Bernard. Some of it has been self-inflicted, while a lot has been not of his doing. But public perception judges whatever happens on his watch – fair or unfair.

However Koretzky hit the exit door, it has shined poorly on Bernard. When Randy Bernard took over in March of 2010, most everyone knew that Terry Angstadt’s days were numbered. It wasn’t that Angstadt did a poor job – quite the contrary. It’s just that his skills pretty well duplicated that of Randy Bernard and there was no need to have two people doing the same thing. I remember when Koretzky was hired in May of 2011, his lack of a racing background raised eyebrows among some skeptics. It was explained away that this was Randy’s type of guy. Randy Bernard had no racing background and look at the job he had done to that point.

As it turned out, this was a bad hire. Regardless of whatever results Koretzky produced, it was bad hire strictly because he only lasted seven months as COO – regardless of whose idea it was for him to leave. Somewhere along the way, someone misjudged Koretzky. Ultimately, the responsibility for the hire falls squarely on Randy Bernard’s shoulders.

If you’ve read this site for long, you know I am an ardent supporter of Randy Bernard. That has not changed. I consider him to be a good and decent man who also happens to be the right man for the job he holds. I’m old enough to remember some decent and not-so decent leaders of this sport. John Frasco, Bill Stokkan and Andrew Craig come to mind in the OK-to-decent category. Jim Melvin, Joe Heitzler and surprisingly Chris Pook fall into the latter category. I won’t even begin to get into Tony George’s legacy here. The point is, I feel very strongly that Randy Bernard is head and shoulders above anyone that has led this sport since the formation of CART in 1978. He has proven that a racing background is not at all necessary to lead this sport. In fact, I think his lack of a racing background is what has brought so many fresh ideas to this sport during his tenure. There were no preconceived notions of what would and wouldn’t work.

Randy Bernard has brought some new and innovative ideas to open-wheel racing. Some have been huge hits, some fell a little flat and others totally missed the mark. But you know what? At least the man is trying something different. Randy Bernard is a marketer, first and foremost. That’s why Terry Angstadt is no longer around. There was no real need for two “idea men”. Marketing and new ideas to bring in new fans is the single most important thing that this series needs. Randy Bernard brings these to the table.

But the series is also in dire need of strong leadership. Despite what you read and hear, Randy Bernard brings this also. But the undercurrent of dissent among a group of owners might indicate otherwise. I believe the one-upmanship over turbo-gate and aero-kits were as much about power in the boardroom as it was about on-track competition. It was brought about to publicly humiliate and undermine Bernard – and it has probably worked to some extent. If Marc Koretzky did in fact leave on his own, the public eroding of Randy Bernard’s support may have been the catalyst.

Randy Bernard did himself no favor with his public tweet about an owner trying to get him fired. It gave the impression that he was as petty as the egotistical owner that was trying to oust him. But if that’s his biggest mistake over the past two and a half years, I don’t consider that too bad.

Bernard is now exactly halfway through his contract. Some want him to leave early. Personally, I’d like to see his contract extended. The man has done an excellent job, despite what some would consider a tough last nine months. While looking at that time period, let’s not forget that there has been some great racing with the new DW12 – a project that was spearheaded by Bernard. There have also been some intriguing storylines brought about by the presence of three engine manufacturers and an all-new engine – all courtesy of the efforts of Mr. Bernard. So while the past few months will probably not be considered Randy Bernard’s most enjoyable part of his tenure, let’s look at his entire body of work before judging him too harshly over the departure of Marc Koretzky.

George Phillips

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28 Responses to “How Dark Is This Latest Black Eye?”

  1. bent wickerbill Says:

    I agree that RB has had a difficult row to hoe will all that was wrong with the sport and in getting the new car up to speed. However, what the fans need is more racing, such as we have seen
    albeit briefly this season and a little less drama… Lets start with more races and less weeks between races…

  2. Of course we’ve had some morons making awful decisions and sticking with them to the detriment of the sport (one of them is currently a ghost owner of a car).

    But this bullcrap of changing directions every 8 seconds is getting old.

  3. Steve K Says:

    Can someone explain why MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, NASCAR, & F1 have been run by the same guy (ok Tags retired from the NFL so 2 men) for about 20 years if not longer yet IndyCar goes through leaders left and right in comparison?

    • billytheskink Says:

      Organizations that are in a comfortable spot don’t tend to change leadership very often, those chasing success do. For an interesting sports comparison, try the NBA and the ABA.

      The NBA has had 4 commissioners in its 65+ year history, the ABA employed 7 different commissioners during its 9 year existence.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Koretzky’s resignation certainly does not reflect well on Bernard or IndyCar, but I think it’s essentially a non-factor in the long run.

    Outside of the festivities around Vegas last year, Koretzky has pretty much been incognito to even us die-hard fans. I couldn’t tell you what he looks like, or name another thing he’s done.
    The casual fans will never notice the resignation, the die-hards will start forgetting about it tomorrow, and the team owners’ memories will begin to fade shortly thereafter, I think.

    Better to be rid of a bad hire quickly than to, as we’ve seen so often in USAC/CART/IRL/IndyCar history, let him make a name for himself because he’s a bad hire.

  5. Why not wait until the full factual details & reason (s) of Marc’s resignation are public knowedge?

    Speculation and the fallout from speculation only results in additional negative consequences……. which one might regret once all the facts have been made public.

    • Had an additional thought.

      Randy has been criticized for previously publicly releasing his tweet about an owner looking to have him fired .

      Now Randy is not releasing info on Marc’s resignation…. which is as it should be as an efficient manager also keeping in mind lessons Randy learned from the fallout from his tweet release.

      Based on the knowledgeable armchair officials’ opinions …….Damned if you do (go public) & apparently damned if you don’t.

    • I think you’re missing the point here. George isn’t trying to speculate how or why Koretzky is no longer employed. Far from it. He goes to great lengths at least a couple of times to say he doesn’t know or that it doesn’t even matter. I interpret the point he was making is regardless of the reason, the fact is that he lasted a short while and therefore was a bad hire. Good hires don’t stick around for only a few months. IMO, I think this bad hire is a pretty big black mark against RB.

      • Nomex – Appreciate your providing an example/illustration of speculation when you commented, “The fact is he lasted a short while and therefore was a bad hire.”

        Good to know that someone has ‘The Facts.”

        Interesting to note (responsible journalism) that INDY Star has not entered into the, “He Said.” “They said ,” court of public speculation.

        Perhaps when they indeed have “The Facts,” the public will then understand what actually transpired.

        Until such time, we all await, as you say, “The Facts.”

        • Fact: Marc Koretzky lasted seven months on the job as COO.

          Fact: A quote from the responsible journalistic site Indy Star said “We needed to go a different direction,” Bernard said today.

          Fact: Editorialized quote from the same responsible journalistic site you mentioned says “Koretzky’s departure is the latest incident in what has been a rocky season for IndyCar.”

          I’m not sure what point you are trying to make, but you seem to have clearly missed the point of this post and that is that this is not as big a deal as some are making it.

          George always tries to stress the point that he is not a journalist. He even mentions in this post that he is NOT an IndyCar insider, yet you are trying to hold him to the same standards as the Star. Maybe you should skip blogs since your expectations are so high.

          • Good to see that George’s comments and replies are receiving attention.

            ” Expectations are so high.”

            It is becoming humorous to read the verbage of those who are mind readers and profess to know that I have a dark side and that my true intent has been finally revealed that I am actually and really “trying to hold George to the same standards as the Star.”

            What is great about any blog is the opportunity to offer differing opinions – being right, wrong, speculative, insightful, or even perhaps “trying to hold George…………”

            Now where did I leave my light saber…………….

        • Simon Garfunkel Says:

          Bruce, I gotta admit I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this. Sounds more like you’re just trying to stir things up on here. Somebody pee in your cheerios this morning?

          • Sorry … Not as familar, as you may be accustomed, with your example of peeing in cheerios.

            Must admit you present an interesting perspective though to make one’s breakfast more colorful ……… Each to their own.

            Enjoy …….. : o )

        • The Lapper Says:

          Why are you harping on facts when the blog stated in plain terms what were and what were not facts? As for waiting for whatever facts you are looking for, have at it because I doubt that “the public” could care any less about ol’ Marc than it does now.

      • Ron Ford Says:

        I think most of us agree with George that overall Randy is doing a good job under difficult circustances. I also think that until the reasons for Koretsky’s leaving are known you should set aside your black marking pen. Simply because a hire leaves after a short time does not by itself make him or her a bad hire. It happens all the time in all professions for a great variety of reasons. Anyway, it is pretty hard to make a black mark on this site.

  6. Unfortunately, without any sort of public reason behind it, there can only be speculation, but it truthfully could be anything and even nothing to do at all with the actual quality of job being done by Koretzky.

    I’m fine with not knowing every miniscule detail of what goes on behind Indycar’s doors, and it is essentially a part of the past already, but something of this magnitude might just need a bit more explanation to stabilize an already rocky run of PR lately.

  7. Ron Ford Says:

    Without knowing the reasons for Koretzky’s resignation how can anyone say with authority that this is a black mark on Randy Bernard’s record? I would guess that at least 90% of IndyCar fans never heard of Koretsky, don’t know that he is gone, and probably could not care less even if they do know.

    The racing is good this year. Fans and drivers are enjoying the season for the most part (with some exceptions, of course, notably the very talented Swiss Miss), so I don’t think there is any need to turn every issue into a crisis.

    I can’t answer George’s headline question “How dark is this black eye?” because I don’t see it as a black eye regardless of whether Koretzky willingly jumped ship or was pushed. Actually, if Koretsky was not working out and Randy took quick action that should be to his credit. That is what good managers do. Sometimes people fit into a program, sometimes they don’t. No big deal.

  8. I like Bernard. If he can negotiate a compromise to the Dalllara/owners problem, add four or five races for next year including an oval or two, tighten the schedule and announce an aero-kit plan as an option no later than the 2014 schedule I’d extend his contract too.

  9. While I don’t ever see a C-level executive leaving a company as a positive, and secrecy surrounding a ‘retirement’ as being an unqualified bad thing, I also don’t know if this eye is really all that black. I don’t know of any changes coming that are part of a fallout of Koretzky leaving, I don’t know of any decisions he made that are either very popular or universally unpopular, and to be blunt, I couldn’t tell you what the man did in the organization at all.

    The only reason this has any negative weight at all is because it’s sudden, it’s a high level exec, and there’s no news about it, so therefore there’s too much room for speculation. In and of itself, I really wonder what effect it truly has within the organization.

    But anyway, even if I’m not right, and even if this is something more problematic than what I think, George is still right: Bernard’s body of work is more important than any single issue. Even if this is a flub and a bad thing, it’s still better to have Bernard around than not. George hit everything right on the head here, context and all.

  10. Sounds like a total non-factor to me. The important thing is that RB continues in his post. IndyCar’s problems were extensive before Bernard took over and continue to be that way. However, the sport’s return to prominence is a multi-year project, and the only way that can happen is with stability at the top.

  11. I doubt that I will ever remember the name of the former INDYCAR Chief Operating Officer, Marc Koretzky, after today, so RB doesn’t lose any credibility with me on this.

  12. Chris Lukens Says:

    I have read that Marc Koretzky worked closely with Roger Penske during the Detroit Superbowl, and that Randy hired him, sight unseen, on Roger’s recommendation. Maybe Marc forgot he was reporting to Randy, not Roger. This is pure conjecture on my part.

  13. it appears to me unfortunelly its headed the way it did in other two so called sanactioning bodies went not good. say wat you want about tony george he at least keep somewat of set schudule and got some short track stars into fils and the irl. and kept most of his race dates(ky and chicago to name two) hopefully good sense will rule the way! but these days im not so sure. sadly.

  14. I think most of us agree with George that overall Randy is doing a good job under difficult circustances.

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