May 27, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar driver Scott Dixon leads a pack of cars driving down the front straightaway during the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Dysfunctional IndyCar?

When Hulman & Co hired Randy Bernard as the new CEO of IndyCar three years ago, having no background in motorsports, most thought they were dysfunctional.  When the former bull riding exec (Bernard) remodeled IndyCar and put it back on its feet with new venues and a new car, only to be fired after last season, again many thought the organization was dysfunctional.  Now an important but leaked report is out and once again, the Hulman and George clan appear to be dysfunctional.

What is going on with IndyCar and are they indeed dysfunctional?  To be a longtime fan of the sport and watch what seems to be an impaired or at the very least underperforming series is, at its core, disheartening.

Tony started it

Tony George started IndyCar with what on the surface appeared to be a good argument for bringing the costs down in American open wheel due to the outrageous financial support necessitated by CART at the time.  The normally aspirated growling V8s with multiple engine suppliers being run on ovals in the United States was enough of a selling point that many felt George was doing the right thing.  In so doing, he had driven a stake in CART, which became ChampCar; but the two competing series’ couldn’t exist simultaneously.

The family was tired of the losses so they fired one of their own and Tony George was no longer running the series.  In-turn, Bernard was hired but then after improving the bottom line – though still at a loss – the family decided to take things into their own hands.  But the latest fiasco of leaked reports seems strange at the very least.  What are they doing?

The leaked report was from a firm that Hulman & Co hired for recommendations (source: ESPN).  Rumors had swirled that the family owned series along with their track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), was potentially up for sale — there was a whole cadre of gossip making the rounds.


A myriad of ideas were in the report such as having a three race playoff at season’s end.  Also, adding a road course race using Indy’s own facility and making it an end-of the-year event was another of the recommendations in the report.  And the report suggests the family not sell the series or the race track.  Boston Consulting Group, one of the largest private consulting businesses in the world, produced the operations report.

All interesting, but not exactly the kind of information you want the public to digest.  Leaks are the norm for IndyCar and the folks at IMS … but why?  Since the CART/IndyCar split, the steady trickle of unofficial information seems common and this almost childish practice has to stop.  Sure, CART was expensive but they also were on top of the motorsports world in the United States.  Their demise was led by mistakes on CART’s part.

However, a dysfunctional and careless business model by the Hulman/George families has to end and this company’s bad habits have to cease or the series will never be taken seriously.  NASCAR has flattened out and even dipped, so now is not the time for dysfunctional infighting but rather expanding the presence of American open wheel.

Hmmm, maybe the alleged idea of them selling the company isn’t such a bad suggestion after-all.

Tags: Dysfunctional Hulman & Co Hulman-George Family IndyCar

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