Was planned termination of Brian Barnhart Bernard's final undoing? UPDATE #2 Another reader writes, Dear Mr. Belskus,
I do not seek a reply to my letter, though I ask if you will read it entirely. I have waited several days to let my emotions calm before writing to you. After reading your Open Letter of November 1, I am left with a strong feeling that INDYCAR leadership doesn’t really understand why recent events have touched off such a firestorm among fans.
There are many stakeholders to the sport I love. That includes the HG Family and their financial stake in the Speedway and the sport. While I respectfully honor their right to do as they choose with their investment, they do need my participation and support as a fan for their business to be successful. I represent the shrinking fan base that hasn’t abandoned INDYCAR for other entertainment and sporting options over the last seventeen years.
We didn’t choose to care about the politics of our sport’s leadership. We would rather focus entirely on the entertainment on the track and in the personalities in the paddock. We were forced to learn about the politics when the absolutely unnecessary split started and nearly bankrupted the soul of the sport. The split drove away the casual fan as well as most new fans. Television ratings and attendance for the INDYCAR season declined consistently, driving away sponsor stakeholders that are the lifeline of our sport.
I have lived in Indianapolis and around the Midwest, and I see INDYCAR from both the local and national viewpoints. The main purpose of my letter to you is to express the optimism that Randy Bernard brought to our sport that gave me such hope for the future. INDYCAR leadership was finally moving beyond the previous good old boys club to one that recognized leadership success developed outside of an Indianapolis perspective.
While Mr. Bernard certainly made mistakes known to you and the Board, he also brought in a fresh and bold attitude that stirred optimism in the fan base for the first time in nearly two decades. I will not review the many, many positive changes he ushered in, but rather express that he reached out to the national fan base and gave us reason to become excited that a new day was dawning.
After a legendary year of racing, it appears that the future is now in jeopardy of returning to the past. Please replicate the type of person Randy Bernard is when you search for your new CEO. Leaders from the past way of conducting our sport will likely cause a disappointment in me so deep that I will slowly withdraw from caring about our sport.
INDYCAR doesn’t need to lose anymore of the small fan base that it still has. Please don’t dismiss the reasons for the negative fan reaction to recent events. The past style of running things will not do.
I wish you and the board success in seeking your new CEO. After witnessing Mr. Bernard’s many successes, I realize it does matter who that person is. Respectfully, Bob Pagels11/03/12 A reader writes, Dear IndyCar Board of Directors,
Whatever story you guys try to spin on the loss of Randy Bernard from IndyCar is not going to help the feeling your small remaining fan base have been left with, and that is you have to be kidding me! Not so much as the departure of Bronco, rather the shock that you would release the only person at ICR’s helm who has been worth a damn in almost 20 years while retaining that lingering portion of the disease that killed the IndyCar millions of us had come to love. The disease was the IRL, and the lingering portion is Brian Barnhart. How a business sticks with someone so connected with failure and has no support of the fans is beyond me. I can promise you I am not alone in the sentiment that IndyCar management wreaks of the appearance the series has once again put personal agendas and feelings ahead of what is best for the sport. Show the fans you recognize your past mistakes and gross failings, do what is truly in the best interest of the sport, fire Brian Barnhart now.
Thank you for your time, and hope to one day become an IndyCar fan and attend and watch races again, which will happen the day you make the move you should have made the day you fired Tony George (which came several years late as it was), and that is sack Brian Barnhart. For the love of God, for the love of IndyCar, for the sake of the fans, fire Brian Barnhart, NOW!
Andy Fogiel, MS
11/03/12 Robin Miller made this statement in a recent chat session:
Randy Bernard said a few weeks ago he'd noticed Jeff Belskus had suddenly become kinda cold and distant towards him and when he mentioned he was likely going to cut TGBB (Robin calls him the The Great Brain Barnhart because he thinks very highly of himself) loose, Belskus told him that would be a mistake.