Q&A with Randy Bernard on 2011 IndyCar Schedule
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the IZOD IndyCar series teleconference, in which we have announced the 2011 series schedule. That event took place today at the Milwaukee Mile, and the Mile played an important role in the 2011 schedule. We'll get to that in just a bit.
RANDY BERNARD: I have actually . of the 16 that we have announced, we will not be . we will be helping with Milwaukee the most, I would say.
We have 100 percent confidence in all of Bruton Smith's tracks. I think Bruton has told us time and time again that he really, really likes open-wheel racing and IndyCar, and he wants to see it grow.
So I think that those are the type of partners that we want to make sure that we are working with, because they are not only saying it; they are doing it.
RANDY BERNARD: I have to give 100 percent of that credit to Sarah Davis, who has helped orchestrate the schedule, and I think that she has done a really good job of working with these promoters and making sure that there is time in between some of these events.
So that was the reason we took that week off there, as well.
RANDY BERNARD: I tell you, they are two great events on the schedule, my first time, both of them this year. And in Toronto, a huge city and the city shuts down for IndyCar up there. It was absolutely fantastic to see the crowd and how much they enjoyed it. Then we went to Edmonton, and they had perfect weather and they had a great race.
RANDY BERNARD: It just worked out that way. I think it's because the promoters wanted it that way and Sarah, and I think it makes great sense. It allows them to promote the winner out of Toronto for Edmonton, for sure.
RANDY BERNARD: No, no, I don't want to get shot when I go down there, that's for sure. But I think that we never want to close doors with any of our promoters, especially ISC.
ISC has promoted almost 70 races; 66 races in their history with us, and I think that's very important to know. But I also think it's very important that we have to make sure that we are trying to move IndyCar to the next level, the IZOD IndyCar Series, and our . one of our goals has to be, for next year, is let's get 24 different promoters interested in the series, and let's make sure we pick the top 17, 18, 19 events. And I think that's very important for us to do.
So Bruton didn't underestimate . if you don't do ISC. He has never mentioned ISC to me. So I mean, unfortunately ISC was a victim this year of . the scheduling was a major issue; sanction agreement and fees were another, and I think third would be marketing. Those would be the key factors most likely as to why we are not going back to any of those four tracks.
RANDY BERNARD: Yeah, I think Homestead . you never rule out any track. I think we want to play . we want to race at tracks where we can have significant amount of press in the market, as well as great crowds. And if there was a way that we could see it, planning to take it to that level, definitely we would return to Homestead.
RANDY BERNARD: The scheduling, sanctioning fees and agreements, and marketing were the primary factors.
John Saunders and I had a great conversation in Chicago. I have spoken with Lesa several times, and we are not burning bridges. We want to keep a great relationship there, but we also, we believe that we have a great set of promoters and a great set of tracks on our 2011 series.
RANDY BERNARD: A significant factor. I think that that's one of the primary factors we have to look at in going somewhere is the attendance, and if you can't deliver attendance, I'm not sure why any series would want to continue to go back.
You know, I think Homestead, I've never been there, so this will be my first time, but I've had a lot of people tell me it's a great race.
Again, we don't want to close doors. If we can figure out a way to make and put that back on the series, I would not want to say it would be a final event if we could work out a deal with Vegas, but I think that it definitely is going on our series again.
RANDY BERNARD: Yes, ma'am, I sure did.
RANDY BERNARD: I can discuss some of it, and I think the part that can't is that my primary objective in going to Europe was meeting with auto manufacturers, press and F1 teams and just letting them know the direction of IndyCar and that we are alive and well and have great momentum. I think we accomplished that.
Also, we want to make sure that we tried to invite as many manufacturers to participate for either engines or aero kits as possible for 2012 in the new car.
So it was a whirlwind of a tour, and I think it will be very rewarding for us.
RANDY BERNARD: Yes, ma'am, I feel it was very well received. Some of our meetings that were supposed to be two hours ended up over five hours. I think we had a great response, and everybody was very welcoming to us, and very genuine in their interest in IndyCar. I think it speaks big volumes for the series and our momentum, I think.
Q. I wanted your thoughts on the New Hampshire event next August. The last time the IndyCars were in New England's it didn't get a very good crowd at all, and even with the NASCAR stop in New Hampshire, auto racing is down the food chain as far as New England sports are concerned. How important is it in having SMI and marketing muscle behind them to solidify open wheel racing in New England's? This may be a better question for the track, but do you plan on bringing in the modified racing there? Your general thoughts right now.
RANDY BERNARD: First, I think Jerry Gappens is very interested in bringing modifieds, and I think there's some technical questions that have to be asked regarding tires, to make sure they are most comparable on the same track. I know that Richmond several years back, we had a problem with modifieds. They just wanted to make sure, if that's possible, which I'm sure it is, just get together.
And then second, on your question in regards to marketing, first I think Bruton Smith and SMI are absolutely fantastic marketers. They understand IndyCar. And I think that with the power and the momentum that IndyCar and the IZOD IndyCar Series currently have, I think that will play a positive.
And I think the third point on that would be our sponsorship participation and activation. We have signed 14 new sponsors in the past 12 months, and then we have this year, first year having IZOD as our title, I think the amount of activation that they can work the market, especially IZOD wants to work Boston, I think that you'll see great crowds.
RANDY BERNARD: I don't want to play an SMI-better-than-ISC game, because I think, again, I'm trying to keep both doors open, because I think it's very important. But I will say I feel very comfortable with SMI. I think that Bruton and I talked extensively, and Bruton has great ideas, and he wants to see IndyCar grow.
I think, you know, when you're dealing with the top and you know that the top all the way down to all of the track presidents are fully working toward building IndyCar, that's very important to us as a series.
RANDY BERNARD: Well, I tell you, when I first came on March 1, probably by March 15, if I had not heard from, I don't know how many fans said that was some of the best racing and how it was such an important legacy and tradition of the sport and what a crying shame that it wasn't on there, that's when it really began.
We flew up here and met a couple of months back and started trying to figure out a way to do it. And when came up there, it created interest some several different promoters, and so we started negotiating with two separate promoters, and both of them are outstanding type of promoters you want to deal with. And when we finally chose the direction we wanted to go, it just made all the sense in the world. We are very optimistic about Milwaukee. We think it's going to be a great event.
THE MODERATOR: Randy, thank you very much for joining us today. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule; you are quite the globetrotter these days, and we appreciate your time.
RANDY BERNARD: Thank you.
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