It’s an insane notion, this quest for actual profit, but Bernard may be just psycho enough to go there.
He said before the Kansas race on May 1:
"I think it is important right now that we reach out to everyone and find as many ovals as interested as in IndyCar and select that ones that want us most. That means the tracks that are going to get the most aggressive on marketing."
That almost sounds like Bernard is going to pay way less attention to things like proximity of four-star hotels, white glove restaurants, oxygen bars and wheat grass juice stands and major metropolitan airports and more attention to the number of seats at the track that are filled with actual butts, and the quality of the actual race.
Huh? It's like a festival of under thinking it! What about the History and Tradition of the event? Or the extreme GORGEOUSNESS of the facility?
Nope. Instead it's the actual race. On the track. It's not about the beauty of the hydrangeas after all.
I know. It’s MAAAAAADNESS.
It also not about whether the NASCAR France Family-owned International Speedway Corporation (ISC) tracks love or hate IndyCar. Who really cares? Danica: This isn't miniature golf. Sarah: We're not in a bowling league. As long as the righteous Benjamins are flowing, we're good. Bernard dropped this gem in a good story by Bruce Martin on Versus.com:
"I have a good relationship with ISC but it has to be in the best interests of ISC and IndyCar and what we are determining right now is what is in the best interest for both parties," Bernard said. "IndyCar has to give them a product to market, No. 1. For me to say that they don't do a good job marketing; that would be taking the lazy way out. We have to do everything we can to make sure we have a competitive series that fans want to see. Read more.
At this point I am pretty sure I am actually related to Randy Bernard, because we have the same exact opinion on this deal. Blaming ISC tracks for allegedly not promoting IndyCar is the lazy way out. What IndyCar needs to focus a zillion percent on is create racing that people (customers) are willing to pay see. In other words, create demand among customers for a product. Novel, I know, but that’s got to be the focus. Weeping about ISC hating IndyCar is a distraction.
And if ISC tracks really aren't promoting our product reasonably? Hey .... then find other tracks. There are no guns to anyone's heads here. If it's not working for either side -- track or league -- then everyone should move on. Free country. That goes for Kansas, which I would personally miss, and even Iowa Speedway. That's the "ones that want us most" part of Bernard's statement.
It's like: You need cars; we got cars. We need a tracks; you got a tracks. (Brooklyn accent) Who wants to make a deal? 'Cause I can go right out to Iowa Speedway right now, and I can guarantee it's not going to be fun for me because there are no cars on the track. Likewise, you can only get a certain level of enjoyment out of looking at a parked IndyCar. The two kinda need each other to make it work.
Which brings us to the great state of New Hampshire. BAM: News lately that IndyCar is going back to Loudon, New Hampshire in 2011 (busted by Joe at Trackside Online at Iowa, which is why you should join me as a subscriber).
But, again, nothing works if the racing sucks, as it did at Richmond, to the point that Richmond kicked IndyCar out. And I don't blame them for that at all. If the product is something people want to buy, that's the alpha and omega of it all. If IndyCar sells tracks out and people who see the race have religious experiences in the stands (Iowa), you'll be amazed at how many tracks suddenly want to be on the schedule.
Because the track owners know they will make sick cash off hosting a race. The second strongest motive among capitalists is a profit motive. (The first is love [I hope].) Even ISC track presidents like Chicagoland Speedway’s Craig Rust have to make their numbers. If IndyCar races sell out tracks, they’ll be a line to host them.
"It’s a business,” said Craig Rust, who has been with ISC for 14 years, including a tenure as the president of Watkins Glen. “It doesn’t matter what's on that track, if fans want to see it and we’re packing the house, believe me, as promoters we’ll continue to work with that sanctioning body.”
So you go, Randy. Focus on constant product quality improvement to create demand. Talk to everyone with a paved oval. Iowa, New Hampshire, a landfill on the moon -- doesn't matter where. Make deals with the tracks that "want us most."
Photo courtesy of Paul Dalbey of Planet-IRL.com