Things Might Be Looking Up
After producing one of the best street races I have ever seen, the Izod IndyCar Series scored another round of good luck when it was announced on Monday that the seven month battle between DirecTV and Versus had come to an end. In the end, IndyCar fans lost three races; Motegi and Homestead at the end of the 2009 season, and the season opener Sunday at Brazil.
I don’t know if Randy Bernard had anything to do with this or not. I know he had connections on both sides of the dispute, but it may have been more about the NHL playoffs coming up more than anything. But if Mr. Bernard had any hand in the ending of the standoff, it just reaffirms the early reports I’m hearing that this guy knows what he’s doing.
With all of the question marks that arose during the offseason, I’m cautiously optimistic with what I’ve seen in the last few weeks. I think everything that Izod has done has been positive. Regardless of your thoughts on some of the chassis designs, the fact that five groups have shown that much interest in the series is a good sign. But to me, the biggest surprise has been what I’ve seen from new CEO Randy Bernard.
Although he has been on the job for only two and a half weeks, Randy Bernard has certainly turned a few heads. I was guilty of taking a few of the obvious rodeo clown shots at Mr. Bernard, given that he was coming from Professional Bull Riders and had never even seen an IndyCar race. At the time, it seemed to be a curious choice – at best.
Instead, he has taken a fresh and hands-on approach to his position. He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he is new to the sport, but he gives every indication that he has completely embraced it. I’ve heard him twice on Trackside with Cavin & Kevin and he has been incredibly impressive. This Sunday night, Robin Miller is the guest host on Wind Tunnel on SPEED. One of his guests will be Randy Bernard. I would recommend tuning in to listen to what he has to say. He is one of the few heads of a racing series that seems to be more than just a talking head muttering the same tired old rhetoric.
The Izod IndyCar Series is on a (slight) roll. Who would have thought that after such a rocky offseason? The next race at St. Petersburg is on ABC. That’s a mixed bag for the hardcore fans. It’s good because the race will be available to the entire country, even over the airwaves. Sponsors will like it and hopefully some new fans will tune in. Unfortunately, there will be no qualifying show that we have grown accustomed to with Versus. We will also be subjected to the sleepy announcing team of Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear. Hopefully, the producers at ABC/ESPN have taken a cue from Versus and upped their game from past years.
But overall, you have to be pleased with the progress that the Izod IndyCar Series has made in a short period of time. Hopefully, the new leadership is savvy enough to know how to capitalize on it and keep it going.
Now, about combining that open-wheel record book…