Although it seems that Randy Bernard never actually rode a bull (since he said he knew nothing about bull riding when he started the PBR job), he may be in for a major ride at IndyCar.
Read Curty Cavin's report on it HERE. I also busted out my Google mastery, which consists of being able to type words into a box, and found aQ&A from 2008.
In it, I saw this:
Q: Are your demographics similar to NASCAR's and the NFL's?
Bernard: They're almost identical to NASCAR and similar to the NFL.
Q: What is the attraction of the PBR for fans and for advertisers and sponsors?
Bernard: I think the biggest attraction is it's easy to follow. There's a lot of great danger in it. To some, it's the Western appeal. When we go to New York City, it's more about the danger, the drama, the excitement. It's truly a two-and-a-half hour show of entertainment. When you get there, from the lasers to the pyro to the rock 'n' roll music, you're going to be entertained. If you come in for your very first time, within four or five rides, you can understand the sport. By the end of it, when you walk out, hopefully you're a fan and you're going to go home and watch it on Versus.
That is EXACTLY what IndyCar wants (or should want) to occur. Some people have raised eyebrows that Bernard has never seen an IndyCar race in person. I think that's a GOOD thing.
A lot of what blinds IndyCar, in my opinion, is an overly nostalgic view of the past. Yes, yes, the past was good. I will never diss the history of IndyCar. I admire the greats of the age. I think fellow Iowa native Janet Guthrie is a glass-ceiling-busting queen. I still feel unworthy to look directly at Rick Mears.
But there's a fine line between holding to meaningful traditions and mindlessly clinging to unquestioned dogma. The league needs someone who can look at everything with a fresh perspective. Someone who knows what the paying public wants. That, after all, is what Bernard did for the PBR. Those he never rode a bull, and wasn't a "cowboy," he helped the sport grow from nothing to something probably worth more than IndyCar.
I think Bernard knows the bottom line is always: you have to entertain your customers. While 10% of customers may buy the product (watch on TV or attend a race) just to be part of the fabric of the historical significance of open-wheel racing (insert 19 hour discussion of the Offy here), 90% show up to be thrilled, excited, enchanted, scared shitless. And there has been precious little of any of those in the last few years of IndyCar. Hence the lack of customers.
I think Bernard gets that. I think he's built bull riding from five events to 350 with riders making $2 million per and packed arenas by knowing you need to have super freak-like, maniacal focus on the customer. Customer, customer, customer.
So rip and snort, Mr. Bernard. Start kicking it like an enraged bull. You got the pdog's full backing, which has to make you feel great. IndyCar needs to be jolted out of its same-old rut.
Bernard's bio from the PBR Web site:
Randy Bernard joined Professional Bull Riders, Inc. as CEO in August of 1995. As CEO, Bernard shared the vision of the founding members of the organization, twenty one bull riders that broke away from rodeo to revolutionize bull riding and establish it as a stand alone sport. Bernard worked in tandem with the founding members to develop and guide the PBR brand, and the sport itself, through several stages of growth. In a short twelve years under Bernard’s leadership, the PBR has become one of the fastest growing sports properties in North America, providing opportunities to bull riders that only existed in the imagination of the founding members.
In April 2007, Bernard successfully executed a merger between Professional Bull Riders, Inc. and Spire Capital Partners, a New York based private equity firm. The merger allowed the founding members and other bull riding shareholders to capitalize on their vision, dedication and commitment while maintaining a significant equity stake in the organization. Bernard remains CEO of PBR under the new ownership structure. Bernard attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and spent six years in the marketing and entertainment department of the California Mid State Fair prior to joining the PBR. Bernard has three children, Priscilla, Ryan and Alexandria, and is married to Cameo Kneuer, a fitness expert and television personality. Randy splits time between his home in Pueblo, Colorado and his home in Los Angeles, California when not traveling on PBR business.