IndyCar’s Bernard Talks Racing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 13 2010

Indy Racing League boss Randy Bernard talks about the present and future of America's premier open-wheel series (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

A couple weeks ago, IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard answered questions during an informal interview with a group of media people at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Following are excerpts from that interview:

Q: What do you think about Danica Patrick racing in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series?

Bernard:  “I think it’s great. It’s exposing her tremendously and I think that when she gets exposure we’re getting exposure. To me, it will be very interesting what kind of rating we do next week in Watkins Glen because it will definitely have an impact on our ratings because she has gotten a tremendous amount of press up here.’’

Q: Why return to New Hampshire?

Bernard:  “We want to get as close to a 50-50 split in ovals versus street and road courses as we can. This is a great short oval and, as we saw in Iowa, I think there were 17 leads changes and Tony Kanaan came from 15th all the way up to win that, and that’s the kind of racing we want to see.

“We have a great fan base here. It was a void (for us) in the Northeast  and being so close to Boston, which is the 10th largest market in the United States, I think it’s important for us to reach out and bring in as many fans as we can.’’

Q: How is the IZOD sponsorship effecting the series?

Bernard: “The great thing about IZOD is it’s a non-endemic sponsor. It reaches lifestyle and it reaches what sponsors want to see, and that’s youth. It reaches fashion, it reaches social. That’s what we need to do, drill down or deep dive with IZOD into lifestyle and use our Hondas and our Firestones and our endemic sponsors to continue to reach the motorsports world. But I want to really drill down and make sure that we reach specific genres of the motorsports world as well, as NASCAR, Karting and sprint car.’’

Q: The IndyCar Series is running 17 races this season. What’s the maximum number of races the series can run?

“In the perfect world, with the perfect television contract, I would say 24. But that’s a perfect world and I think that’s five years away. We need to show growth, we need to show a bigger audience and we need to make sure we can take that back to the team owners and make sure they can afford to go to 24.

“I can tell you from the standpoint of the different promoters  that we’re having a high level of interest right now. I think there is that much interest out there right now. We need to make sure we can hit the bigger markets in the United States. We’re getting a tremendous amount of interest from international markets right now, as well, but … we cannot decrease what we have here domestically. That’s very important.’’

Q: How many races will the series run in 2011?

Bernard: “We’re right now looking at 17 or 18, which means we’re going to have to cut a couple of events, most likely. What we’re doing right now is talking to all the promoters and seeing which ones want to be the most aggressive and are going to work with us the best. The bottom line is we have to showcase our sport in the very best way we can.

“We’d like to have (the 2011 schedule) done definitely by the end of summer. I know it’s definitely one of our top priorities now.’’

Q: Why is it so important to try to have a 50/50 balance of ovals and road and street courses on the schedule?

Bernard: “We’re creating our oval championship and we’re creating our road and street course championship. That’s the great thing about IndyCar is it reaches such a diverse audience. If you look at our oval audience and our road and street course, they’re not completely different, but there are definitely some definite demographic differences. I think that’s very accommodating to some of our sponsors trying to reach more of the audience.’’

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 13 2010