Lunch with Randy and Simona
This past Monday’s trip to Charm City was quite the informational voyage. Aside from the fact HVM had an amazingly tasty lunch spread in the middle of an announcement. They also was plenty of opportunity to talk with Simona de Silvestro, and IZOD INDYCAR Series CEO Randy Bernard.
The Baltimore media was the dominant media in attendance, but was more a silent observer aside from a few obvious (and somewhat overused questions for female drivers). Myself; and the local ESPN Radio correspondent, who clearly was the other lone follower of the series, had the opportunity to ask several questions.
Also up on the site is a 30 minute recording of the entire main announcement. Everyone from the head of the Baltimore Hotel, to Keith Wiggins owner of HVM, or Jay Davidson who answered a great deal of questions from the local press. The two key people for myself were Simona, and Randy.
We have already posted in the last Open Paddock PodCast, and also I tweeted the “rapid fire” Q&A I had with Simona. Randy was very talkative to the very few of us there who follow the series.
First Randy told us how relived he was Simona would have a full time sponsor deal. Randy Bernard has now admitted keeping Simona is important for an “up and coming series”; they need her (de Silvestro) to remain involved.
He then moves on to talking about 2012 a bit. Since he has called the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series “…the lame duck year of our chassis.” Wow some sincerely brutal honesty. However this is exactly why the idea of “double file re-starts” has been kicking around. Seems Randy Bernard is trying to keep the series exciting on those ancient Dallaras for 2011. Understandably so, you don’t want to bore away fans the year before the good stuff arrives.
If you go 17:00 into the announcement MP3; you will hear this for yourself, but for those who would rather read it in print here you go:
“There is a little bit of controversy on our double file re-starts, on the ovals. And there are a lot of team owners who want to take that and do it the entire year.
They think its going to have a huge impact on the sport. We haven’t decided that yet. And that’s new.
I’ve been getting a lot of pressure from the owners to go back and talk to the drivers. The drivers don’t want it. The drivers like single file re-starts. So that’s our rub there.
But we think that’s going to create great competition, and excitement to the series this year.”
It is also important for Randy to have a growing audience. He cites that in 2012 the money is huge. There will be 14 new sponsors and $100,000,000 of sponsorship money involved with that. “Hundred Million”! Bernard says they forecasted a “10% increase” for ticket sales on the 2011 season.
However with great sales figures; for Baltimore, (“just shy of 27,000 sold” as of Monday according to Jay Davidson.) and other heavily promoted venues, they could see it be 20% growth for 2011 instead.
So don’t look for Randy to do away with it if fans keep gobbling up tickets and watching in higher numbers on TV. With it being the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500’s inaugural event. Bernard’s first and foremost mission is to make sure they have a healthy year of tickets sold. (Don’t let it get all Brickyard 400!) Also he wants more TV viewers on ABC. So if it makes fans watch more, that will stay and drivers will learn to deal with it.
As far as the Versus on-air team goes for 2011, Randy Bernard told me he can start talking to NBC Sport’s front office after this Friday. When asked earlier about his involvement Bernard made it clear, he reads blogs, goes on the web sites, and follows what people are talking about.
So while many have mocked the “Hash Tag Lobbying” (#HashTagLobbying) on places like Twitter and Facebook. Randy seems to be saying he sees this. And to be very clear, he is the man who has put his foot down about a particular Venezuelan. (#ParkMilka)
With this, don’t be afraid to keep up the (#KeepLindy) and (#BobJenkinsRules) hash tags going as well. I would like to mention I will be personally a big supporter of the (#ParkMartyReid) movement. If ABC really wants to keep the 500, there is one man I suspect EVERY fan would like to see not renewed! (Am I wrong, can I find one supporter of Marty Reid not named Mrs. Reid? I have been looking for a few months now. I bet the Holy Grail from Indiana Jones is a more possible find!)
So lesson learned that day everyone? Spike ate a killer Prosciutto sandwich, with some great sides. Oh and unlike the past, the present INDYCAR CEO is listening to the fans. So don’t be shy now everyone. Let the big man know where you stand with On-Air talent. You can help shape the choice for Versus this year, and perhaps then ABC. (Should they stay with ABC at all.)