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In The Pits: Report merely a road map for IndyCar
Question of the Day
Yeah, purists should love that.
The 15-race hypothetical schedule, by the way, includes seven cities not currently on the IndyCar schedule. It dumps Barber, the Alabama road course that’s been good to IndyCar, stalwart Milwaukee, which Michael Andretti rescued last year, and Iowa, where the passionate fans fill the stands every year.
Then there’s BCG’s marketing ploy of paying a “big personality” to join the series.
Not only would that enrage the purists, it’s probably the most flawed idea in the entire report. The only way a paid A-list driver would have any long-term affect on the series is by being competitive, and there’s a pretty shallow pool of talent willing and capable of jumping into an Indy car and running up front.
Formula One drivers don’t really count because the key is getting a driver who moves the needle with the American audience. So that leaves who? The Busch brothers? Brad Keselowski? Remember, it’s got to be someone fans will tune in to watch and someone who will be competitive.
And there’s got to be an incentive for the driver to go to IndyCar. That’s going to cost the series money. A lot more money than the check BCG cashed.
Let’s assume Kurt Busch took no salary from James Finch last season and agreed to drive for only 50 percent of his race winnings. That would have earned him $1.7 million driving for a low-budget team. Without a salary.
How many IndyCar drivers make $1.7 million a year, winnings and salary combined? Not many.
None of that takes into account how dangerous having one big personality would be in marketing the rest of the drivers. Perhaps nobody at BCG ever heard of Danica Patrick.
Still, not everything in the report is outlandish, and some of it makes sense. The ticketing structure at IMS probably does need to be overhauled. If the most expensive seats sell and the mid-priced tickets don’t, then raise the cost of the stuff in high demand and adjust the price of stalled inventory.
The report contains pages and pages on restructuring team costs and sanctioning fees with tracks, diagrams on rewarding performance with purse money, observations on how to improve operating efficiency through eliminating redundant positions at IndyCar and IMS and targeting key sponsors not currently involved with the series.
In the end, the BCG report is just a road map Miles, the CEO, could choose to follow for two aspects of the Hulman & Co. businesses.
He doesn’t have to do anything BCG suggested. He can tear the report up, use it to line the bottom of a bird cage, or, the more likely scenario, sit down with IndyCar’s key stakeholders and use portions of the report to kick-start discussions on what direction the series and the speedway should go.
That’s what he indicated he’ll do in his Friday night statement, saying: “The work BCG has done provides conversation points around several important areas of our business as we shape our thinking about the future, but our strategy has not yet been finalized.”
Hired in November to run the Hulman & Co. businesses, Miles’ most difficult task will be righting IndyCar. It’s going to be a monumental task that he won’t be able to do alone, he won’t be able to do this year and he won’t be able to do with a report.
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