The IMS Garage Sale
I’m not normally reactionary. I’ll tell a few jokes, make a few oddball connections, and generally cheerlead for the IZOD IndyCar Series. You don’t come here for news or in-depth commentary. Basically, I just try to be entertaining. But occasionally I have a laser-like flash of insight; I suddenly see the future with uncanny clarity. And I absolutely hate that this insight, this clarity, was inspired by Robin Miller.
On the Sunday, August 19 edition of Speed TV’s Wind Tunnel, a sport coat wearing Robin Miller was co-hosting and gave voice to the rumor that a few series owners were planning/conspiring to purchase the IndyCar series from IMS. If anyone actually read this blog, I might take credit for starting the rumor that IndyCar was for sale. Just scroll down to last week’s post, “IndyCar’s Endless Summer,” and read the “God Only Knows” section. Sure, I suggested that NASCAR would be the deep pockets that would step up and take this slightly used series off IMS’s hands, but this sounds like a variation on a theme. The big question is whether IMS would really sell the series.
Let’s make a list of the pros and cons, shall we?
Reasons for IMS to sell the IndyCar Series
- The series is a giant sucking chest wound. The patient is alive, but on life support.
- The “family” at IMS probably doesn’t like to see their inheritances spent on a series that only gives them headaches. Keep the kids happy.
- No owners, engine manufacturers, chassis fabricators, series sponsors, series TV contracts, or series CEO’s will be a major concern again. Ever.
- It doesn’t matter who runs the series. The Indy 500 will always be a bucket list event and make money. Always.
- IMS becomes the good guy again. They don’t have to hire, fire, or defend a series boss. Got a bitch? Tell the guys in charge of the series. We’re just the promoters.
- IMS has positioned itself as a summer-long palace of racing. They make money on every event. Guaranteed.
- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is iconic. The IZOD IndyCar Series is not. Trade on the big name.
- The IZOD IndyCar Series is a used car that needs new tires and is leaking oil. That pesky “Check Engine ” light is on, too. Some sucker will want to buy it, though. I assume IMS will make them a whale of a deal, probably “30 Days Same as Cash.”
Reasons for IMS to keep the IndyCar Series
- Tony George still wants to be like the Frances.
- Power and authority never go out of style.
- If you are one of the 1%, you can throw money away.
- I will gladly post others if you think of them.
I really tried to find solid reasons for IMS to keep ownership of the series. I just can’t come up with any. IMS selling IndyCar makes incredible sense in this economy. The only suitors out there are NASCAR, who would marginalize the series, or the current car owners, who would take it down the same trail they traveled before. Someone can come in and look like a white knight rescuing the damsel in distress. The new owners just need to remember that beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes all the way to the bone. Anyone want to buy a used series? I think IMS is in the market.
One reason to keep it … to ensure you have IndyCars to run at the 500. If you sell IndyCar, and it goes belly up (which it will if the owners buy it) … what do you run at the Indy 500?
Going with ‘dog’s idea, I think the Speedway wants control over its signature product. Maybe Tony Hulman was alright with AAA and USAC bringing their show into his place, but all indications from his descendants show they want their people deciding what runs at the big moneymaker.
I can’t disagree, but money tops common sense and history all of the time.
A new series would rise from the ashes, a carbon fiber Phoenix with wings of Firestone rubber. The series could just run the existing chassis until they had time to bring in the Delta Wings!
On the plus side, I can definitely see how IMS would be happy to have the IndyCar albatross no longer around their neck. I have tried, with the aid of scotch, even, to figure out an upside for NASCAR in buying IndyCar and I got nothing. I see no benefit to NASCAR from the purchase.
Wow. Scotch. Must have been DEEP thinking. NASCAR’s benefit would be to control a series that is a possible competitor. *stifles laugh*
As I recall, this is not the first time Mr. Miller has started some wild a**ed rumor (always without any quotes or attribution) about someone “buying the series”.
Since his “scoops” are usually based (like owners firing Randy) on wild hearsay. He “overheard” while eavesdropping at St. Elmo’s (also a little name dropping) Tony George and “some guy” (exact quote on the JMV show).
Robin has a habit of speaking before he should in order to appear smarter than he is. I’ve heard this so much from Robin and it has all come to nothing except for fueling his raging ego, that until I hear it from someone else, I can’t believe it.
Someone within H&Co told me in late 2010 that “this friend of Josie told her over dinner that he knew a guy named Randy Bernard that she should hire for IndyCar” is nothing but BS cover story…it was suggested that Josie knew him very well, and for a long, long time, ever since he was a rider himself…and convinced Mari that it might be a good idea to hire him strictly to tidy up the financial picture so the heirs could eventually rid themselves of the hassle that is IndyCar without excessive loss. Why else, it was said, would one of the premier motorsports organizations in the world hire a CEO with absolutely no experience in, or knowledge of, auto racing, if not merely to fix the business well enough to be sold?
When one considers the IMS fan experience, I think we all agree that the H-G’s do a marvelous job when they are in 100% control of the venue and the event…I never think I get less than my dollar’s worth there compared to any other track, and for the family to have maintained that standard for as long as they have, I salute them. But my take is that it’s the dealing with outside entities, such as those prickly ISC/SMI track owners, that simply isn’t their cup of tea, and without that desire, the passion to run a series well cannot exist…and that’s why the larger family simply has never had any strong desire to run what TG created.
The plot thickens.
You need to brush up on history.
I am not taking sides on THE SPLIT, so don’t misinterpret:
The most lucrative, successful period of Open Wheel Racing is the period from 1981 to 1999. During that time, the Series was not owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This cannot be argued. Since the speedway got into the racing series business, the success of the series has never approached the success of the series in the CART era.
The simple fact is that for almost 20 years, CART and IMS coexisted and made money Hand over Fist.
Good stuff. I’m not really commenting on the salad days of the series. The racing and crowds were GREAT during that era. But the hubris on BOTH sides led us to where we are now. The focus is on what IMS does in 2012. I’m not sure the teams, engine builders, and fabricators have the same deep pockets they did at that time. That fact may be the game changer. Time will tell.