New IndyCar CEO Faces Steep Learning Curve

0
70

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Randy Bernard laid out a six-point plan on what he intends to do as the new CEO of the IZOD IndyCar Series Feb. 2.

Those six goals include:

• Create a positive environment. “We need to work as one,” Bernard said. “We need to have a passion and a focus.”

• Learn the rich culture and tradition of IndyCar racing.

“I will spend hours in the Hall of Fame Museum,” Bernard said. “I will want to spend hours with past champions who will give me insight, and I will also want to spend a lot of time with fans. I want to hear their input. I want to see what they think of the sport.”

• Create a consistent marketing platform.

“I need to meet with promoters, team owners, sponsors, managers and staff, to make sure that we all have the same vision of the Indy Racing League,” he said.

• Become profitable.

"Not by cutting costs, but increasing revenues,” Bernard said. “We need more fans and more sponsors, bottom line.”

• Develop relationships.

“I am on a huge learning curve here,” said the new CEO. “It’s going to be very important for me to develop relationships with team owners, promoters, the sponsors and all the employees.”

• Reignite the Indy Racing League to America “on the excitement and tradition of open-wheel racing.”

How well the 43-year-old former CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. is able to do that remains to be seen but his unveiling Feb. 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was full of enthusiasm and hope, but short on specific details of how he hopes to succeed where others before him — including Tony George — did not.

“Randy is the right person at the right time to head the Indy Racing League,” said IMS Corp. CEO Jeff Belskus. “He brings a superb sports marketing and promotion background, proven CEO skills, energy and enthusiasm at a time when the IZOD IndyCar Series is positioned for growth.”

With George no longer the leader of the Hulman George Family, that role appears to have gone to his sister, Josie. Although Mari Hulman George continues to be the Chairman of the Board of the IMS Corp., Bernard’s hiring is direct result of Josie’s influence.

“I was ready to make a change in my life,” Bernard said. “Josie George was determined that the change should be with the Indy Racing League, and after significant research I was excited about the opportunity. I truly believe I can make a difference with the Indy Racing League, and I see tremendous potential. The IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights have intense action, high-stakes competition, extreme athletes, a diverse international schedule, great sponsors and a very passionate fan base.”

Bernard will assume his new role on March 1.

In 1994, he produced one of the eight PBR events in its inaugural 1994 season while with the marketing and entertainment department of the California Mid-State Fair and “fell in love with the sport.” He was named CEO in 1995 and worked with the PBR founders in the succeeding years to develop and expand the brand, events across North America and the popularity of the sport worldwide.

Under Bernard’s leadership, PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series regular-season attendance increased 12 percent in 2009, and ratings with television partner Versus increased nearly 30 percent last year. The PBR has been quick out of the chutes in 2010 with attendance up 23 percent in its first five weeks of competition.

Belskus reiterated that he hopes to keep Terry Angstadt on board.

Angstadt is currently the IndyCar Series president, commercial division, but admitted that with a new CEO there would be a duplication of roles.