We have a new leader

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2010 | , | 2 comments »
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Cue the white smoke because the bishops at 16th and Georgetown have collectively reached a decision on a new leader. Ladies and gentleman (and any trans-gender types as well in the audience), please welcome the IRL's new CEO...Andy Bernard!

A proud graduate of Cornell University, Bernard represents a curious choice for the IRL. He has a well-known competitive spirit, a strong sales background in the paper industry, as well as a diverse musical acumen...wait, what's that you say? It's NOT Andy Bernard?

Oh, I'm sorry. It's Randy Bernard. Well that's an honest mistake.

The Indy Racing League landed a new chief executive officer Friday when Randy Bernard accepted the position vacated by Tony George.

Bernard, the founder and now former CEO of Professional Bull Riders Inc., will be confirmed next week, industry sources told The Star.

Bernard turns 43 Sunday. He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.

(MORE from the intrepid Curt Cavin/IndyStar)
On a practical level I suppose this hiring makes sense. In the past year I've heard more than one person refer to certain events as "goat rodeos", and if that's what we've got then Bernard's resume makes perfect sense.

But on the other hand, let's examine that last sentence again.

He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.
Ummm, in the immortal words of Gary Coleman, "Whatchu talkin bout, Willis?!?!"

OK, I can see where this is going. Bernard has little if any ties to anyone in the IRL, so he's able to look at the entity through "fresh eyes". He's and "outside the box" pick. A good leader is a good leader no matter what he's leading, right?

Perhaps. But once again:

He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.
It is difficult to fathom handing the reigns of a sport over someone who has never actually attended an IRL event, because this presumably means he has never attended the Indy 500. Here we are, right in the middle of the IMS Centennial celebration, handing the league it features over to someone who has never attended the race upon which this entire series is based. Excuse me while my mind explodes.


Now, as I apply a cold compress to what remains of my head, I'll try to see the positives of this. Bernard has successfully built a national presence from a league that started from nothing, so he's got experience working with sports that have far more troubles that .1 TV ratings. And speaking of that, he's got experience working with VERSUS. And since he has no ties to the existing series perhaps he'll be able to make the hard choices in the best interest of the sport without worrying what certain track or team owners desire. That sounds like a good thing, I suppose.

But then again...how is Bernard going to address the current engine badging situation? How is he going resolve the competing designs for the new car design? What will he base future choices of track additions, or for that matter subtractions? How is going to deal with his inevitable public conflict with Robin Miller?

And how much of all that will be affected when he collapses from the sheer awesomeness the first time he stands outside the Pagoda, with balloons in the air and hundreds of thousands of people cheering, and hears "Ladies and gentleman, start your engines!"

*poot* (again)

Is terribly different from hiring Andy Bernard instead? I sincerely hope so, and that my incredulity is just a case of my judgment being clouded from my mind repeatedly exploding. At any rate, welcome and good luck, Randy - God save The 'Nard Dog.

UPDATE: We have some persuasive arguments in favor of this hiring from pressdog and Chris Estrada.


  1. pressdog // January 30, 2010 9:04 AM  

    Disagree. I think a fresh perspective is exactly what the league needs and if you want someone with a track record of taking a breakaway venture and building it from zero to more than IndyCar, he's done that.

  2. Anonymous // January 30, 2010 10:37 AM  

    I think it's a good move, overall. Hopefully he's watch Indycar races on TV, even if he hasn't directly attended. The only thing I worry about is that he doesn't get good advice(IE he listens too much to Brian Barnhart) or tries to make technical decisions and stuff. I hope/think he'll clash with Barnhart, and hopefully can him.