The fan feedback at Pocono Raceway was euphoric a month ago, when IndyCar announced its return after a 23-year absence.
Now the fans are contacting the track to express their frustration over the departure of CEO Randy Bernard, who worked closely all year with Pocono in returning one of IndyCar’s original tracks to the 2013 schedule. Bernard stepped down as CEO of IndyCar on Sunday night after an emergency meeting of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors.
Brandon Igdalsky, the president and CEO of Pocono, said Friday he’s not having buyer’s remorse on the three-year contract he announced trackside Oct. 1 with Bernard and Mario Andretti.
“As the new tenant on the schedule, it is a little disturbing, as is the fan reaction,” Igdalsky said. “We’ve had a lot of fans contact us. The fans really loved Randy. But we’ll move forward as we have to.”
IndyCar was a fixture at Pocono from 1971 until 1989, but fell off the schedule when track owner Joseph “Doc” Mattioli tired of the politics of open-wheel racing. It took 23 years for the return, which was brokered by Igdalsky, his grandson, and Bernard, who understood the importance of tradition to the fan base he’d catered to in his three years as head of IndyCar.
In bringing Pocono back to the schedule, Bernard also resurrected the “Triple Crown” challenge, a three-race competition in 2013 for $1 million, which Pocono was a part of through 1989.
Igdalsky said Friday he understands IndyCar made a business decision, and is taking a wait-and-see approach on a relationship that was primarily with Bernard.
“I’ve talked to Randy this week, and we’ll just go forward,” he said. Although Igdalsky said he’d heard from members of Bernard’s staff, routine in the course of business, he’d yet to hear anything from Jeff Belskus, CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway who also took over Bernard’s role.
“We’ve not heard anything above and beyond the routine calls, but maybe we’ll hear something in the next week or so,” Igdalsky said.
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