Q&A with IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard

September 10, 2010|By Baltimore Sun reporter

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.

Our guest today is IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard, and Randy will talk about the schedule.

Before I ask a question of Randy, I want to give a few bullet points about the schedule. There are 17 events. There are nine road and street events, eight ovals. The schedule remains the most diverse and challenging schedule in all of motorsports. The season opener is March 27 on the streets of St. Petersburg, and the Brazil race moves to May 1, that's the street course down there in Sao Paulo. It is the lead in race to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, which is May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

And then we have an exciting dual race set up at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11. That's one of two night races. The other night race is June 25 at Iowa Speedway on the oval there. That event moves to a night race. And sandwiched between those two events is the return of the Milwaukee Mile on Sunday June 19. We are very happy to return to Milwaukee. It's an historical venue of great importance to the IndyCar Series, and all of open wheel racing.

Another new event is August 14 at New Hampshire, Indy style racing returns to New Hampshire after a hiatus. Very pleased to go back up into New England to the great race fans up there.

And we also have a new event September 4 on the streets of Baltimore, an exciting city course that takes us past the world renowned Inner Harbor and that will be a lot of fun.

Kentucky shifts to October 2, and the season finale which will be announced in the coming weeks, will be on an oval.

Randy, thank you for joining us today. Appreciate it.

RANDY BERNARD: Thanks for having me.

THE MODERATOR: What were the goals of the 2011 schedule while you were building it with various series partners, and how does this schedule meet those objectives?

RANDY BERNARD: I think the first thing we need to do is we wanted to make sure we defined IndyCar first. And I think that we need to make sure that when we define IndyCar, it's truly what we are, and that is the most versatile, fastest race car and race car drivers in the world; and just separates us from F1 and separates us from NASCAR, and it's truly what IndyCar is.

And in doing that, we need to make sure that we keep the versatility from the different types of tracks that we race, and that includes having superspeedways with short ovals as well as road courses and street courses. And I think that when we set the 2011 schedule up this year, the one thing we wanted to make sure that we were doing is making sure that there was versatility through and through that series.

Q. Mr. Kelly, it's a pleasure to hear your voice again. Randy, there's been a lot of talk that the finale could be in Las Vegas and curious if you could update us on the status of that, and if you have a deadline for securing financial backing for a possible Vegas event.

RANDY BERNARD: Well, Jeff, you and I go way back and you know how much I love Vegas, and I think Vegas is one of the greatest cities in the world. I don't think there's a better city in the world to culminate your championships than in Vegas.

I think that knowing me, you know that that has to be one of my goals. I have tremendous relationships there with the LVTVA, as well as with the tremendous amount of hotels and casinos. So right now we are doing our due diligence and hoping that we can come to an agreement here very shortly on that event.

But we also have  Fontana is very interested if we cannot get that done. So that's one of the key reasons we have not made the decision at this point yet, but I'm optimistic that we'll see some type of decision made within the next two weeks.

Q. Normally a series like this would have some adjustments to the schedule, but you walked into a situation with really a major overall. Do you feel like this is kind of a relief, given all that you've had to go through? Was it a pretty daunting challenge? Maybe not as big as the CART challenge, but a pretty good size?

RANDY BERNARD: I think the relief will come next year if we sell out and have big-time attendance at these races. I think the work just begins. Now that we have announced the schedule, we have to make sure that we follow through and work on marketing strategies that allow us to have great crowds, and I think that's one of our biggest concerns; our objective is that we need to really work on, and that is making sure that we grow in our sport.

Q. Can you give me a sense for how many of these I don't ask for specifics maybe, but for how many of these events you had to be a promoter or take a more active role in?

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