After a lengthy courtship Indycar’s top pick for CEO, Zak Brown, turned down the job, leaving Indycar to search on for someone to lead the organization.
Brown, founder of Just Marketing International, was wooed by the Mark Miles, CEO of both the speedway and the company that owns the IZOD Indycar series, because of his track record of packaging big sponsorship deals across motorsports. Brown has international contacts, credibility, and apparently a love for the Indy 500 and the challenges that comes with rebuilding it.
Miles courted Brown publicly for several months, and has admitted that Brown was the top candidate. So where does that leave the search for his replacement? Who wants to be the number two option?
Is there a large pool of men and women who have been willing to wait for their turn to come? How many of these high powered people are willing to accept a job where the last guy got run out of town on a rail, despite doing a good job in the eyes of many fans. I can’t blame Indycar for wanting Brown, his company manages Jeff Gordon’s career among others, but I have to wonder where that leaves the search.
Consensus pick Scott Atherton, the CEO of the American Le Mans Series, appears to be off the table. Atherton, well respected in motorsports circles, has publicly said he’s not interested in the job because he is excited about overseeing the blending of Le Mans and Grand Am into the Unified Sports Car series next year.
Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star speculated that Tom Garfinkel, President/CEO of the San Diego Padres was a candidate. Garfinkel is a former executive with Ganassai Racing.
The problem is anyone who is a candidate probably already has a high paying, high power job that they like. So convincing someone to jump ship to a sport that needs help is going to take some doing, especially after Randy Bernard was fired in the manor that he was.
They’re clearly looking for someone who has commercial experience, having recently hired Derrick Walker to handle the racing side of the sport. Do they land someone from NASCAR looking for a challenge, or do they go for someone outside the racing world like they did with Bernard?
It seems like things will take a while to woo another candidate, I just hope that they do it quietly this time. The last thing Indycar can afford right now is too look like a bridesmaid as they court candidate after candidate only to be turned down.