Friday, October 12, 2012

Tony George Needs to Go Away

In another episode of "IndyCar rumors that refuse to die", today's Indianapolis Business Journal ran this story that Tony George has submitted an offer to buy IndyCar from Hulman and Company, or otherwise known as, his mom and sisters.

This comes after another report a few days ago that he had the investors together and was looking to make said offer. Now, given that NO ONE in his camp has spoken on the record about this, I'm taking it with a grain of salt, especially given the report once again that Randy Bernard was hanging onto the CEO position by his fingernails.

 I mean, how many times can you declare a guy dead? I'm happy that since other than his foray into the world of denials back in May, he is staying clear of this fray and moving forward and doing his job. Plus, the only person who can fire Bernard is Mari Hulman George, and she doesn't seem interested in doing that anytime soon.

Still, the idea that this potential deal is still hanging around concerns me. I'm not one of these people that blames Tony George and him alone for the unfortunate occurrences that went on between 1996-2008. Lots and lots of people dropped the ball and didn't have the sense to notice that in their desire to be right and push their agenda that NASCAR lapped open wheel racing repeatedly and took away a lot of its fans.

Still, his ideas and his vision were part of what led us here today, and I don't see how he grew a brain over the last few years and has some sort of miracle cure for open wheel racing in the US. He couldn't fix it the first time, so why is there a faction of people who think he can on a second go-around?

And what even is more discouraging is that reportedly Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, Kevin Kalkhoven and Michael Andretti are in on the deal. Let's take them in order: part of the problem, part of the problem, one of the biggest parts of the problem, and in the case of Andretti, one of the most disappointing pieces to this puzzle.

Ganassi, Penske and Kalkhoven watched open wheel racing burn in the early 2000s and did nothing to stop it, instead pushing their own agendas and throwing more and more gas on the fire. Kalkhoven is like George in that he has too much money, and you know what they say about fools and their money.

As far as Andretti goes, I don't get it. He seems to be the guy that is supporting IndyCar the most, his group manages races and he puts his money where his mouth is by having cars in each level of the ladder program. He seems like the person that is trusting this process the most and I hope the rumors of him being involved are categorically false.

I don't know where they get the idea that owners running the series is a good thing. Yes, a quarter-century ago it was seemingly working, but was it? Penske owned engine leases, Carl Haas controlled most of the chassis and the competitive balance wasn't even close to what we have now. Races were won by laps instead of seconds. It's like Billy Joel once said: "the good old days weren't always good..."

Here's a news flash to those that live in the past: the series, from top to bottom, is better, and more competitive than it has been for a long, long time. Maybe the "name" drivers aren't there like there was a generation ago, but IndyCar puts on a show every single time it takes the track from the front of the field to the back. That hasn't always happened, despite what anyone likes to tell you.

I won't blame any one person for what has happened over the last 15 years, but I will say that the people in charge failed the sport and they failed us as fans. IndyCar recognized that when they brought Bernard on almost four years ago. They brought in a guy who is visible, fan friendly and ready with fresh ideas, not to mention a guy that had taken something from nothing and built it into something.

He's doing it again, but it isn't done in a day. The TV contract -- which Tony George negotiated, by the way -- is a huge noose on the series. There are still uber problems that Bernard is cleaning up, problems created by Tony George and Company.

Don't get me wrong. Bernard is far from perfect and has made several missteps along the way. Still, I feel that in his leadership the series is moving forward, which is something I wasn't able to say for a long, long time.

What makes this even worse is that these rumors and uncertainty is one element that is keeping the series from growing. Who would want to start a race team in this cess pool, and worse yet, who would want to put their money in advertising and sponsorship into a series that conducts itself like a kindergarten class on a sugar high? My hats off and major props to the folks that do, because if I had big checks and could write them, I don't know if I would do it.

I just wish he would go away. Anton, your family is rich and despite the fact you pissed away a large part of their fortune, they continue to still claim you. In fact, they love you so much that despite all you have done they have given you a job again. Be happy with that. Do us all a favor, live off your family's money and leave the heavy lifting to the big boys.

1 comment:

  1. If, all of a sudden, we have to find a place for Tony George,the best possible soultion would be to make him the head of IMS. Like his grandfather, he has the right idea on continuing to improve the Speedway and several people to whom I have spoken have told me that since he was exiled, conditions at the Speedway have declined.

    Under NO circumstances do I want him runnning the series, but I submit that the owners involved (if they are) want someone they can push around and that person is NOT Randy Bernard.