I had a three-hour dinner this week with Randy Bernard, the new CEO of the Indy Racing League. Since it was just the two of us, it was great to talk uninterrupted.
The guy is a sponge. He barely said hello before launching into a series of questions. The IRL has some big decisions facing it with regards to chassis and engine agreements. He is trying to learn as much as he can about the sport, the people in the sport, the IRL staff and more. Quickly.
My sense is this is a very good hire. Bernard served as CEO of the Professional Bull Rider's Tour. The PBR has rocketed from infancy to huge success over the last 15 years under Bernard's direction.
One thing I did learn is that Bernard is a promoter. That's his first instinct. The IRL racing product is quite good (especially since changes were made before last August's Kentucky race). What it needs is a promoter to market the product to the mainstream and help build the names of its stars. That person also needs to be able to juggle the needs of fans, teams, sponsors, promoters, media and the rest.
Bernard has experience in both. He has a flair for colorful promotion. Go to a PBR event and see the production, pyro, spotlights, sound and more to realize he can build an event to a crescendo. He, too, had to balance the needs of fans, bull riders, stock contractors, sponsors and more.
He's experienced in both. I look forward to helping him.