AP Exclusive: Family told to keep IndyCar, IMS

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm •  Published: March 1, 2013
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The Hulman-George family should retain ownership of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to a report from a consulting group it hired to evaluate business operations, including running the Indianapolis 500.

The Boston Consulting Group offered a wide array of suggestions on how to better position the troubled open-wheel series and historic speedway in a 115-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Among the ideas: a 15-race IndyCar schedule in major American cities held over 19 weeks; a three-race playoff with a season finale on the road course at Indy; a new marketing strategy promoting IndyCar's "daredevil drivers"; using just one U.S. television partner instead of both ABC/ESPN and NBC Sports Network; overhauling the ticket pricing at IMS in tiers that would raise the cost of the most expensive Indy 500 ticket from $150 to $200 and lower almost every ticket for the Brickyard 400 and Red Bull Grand Prix.

Hulman & Co. is under no obligation to follow the suggestions, but Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said in a statement late Friday night the company is taking the report under advisement.

"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," Miles said in his statement.

"As part of finalizing our strategy, we will be sharing information with our stakeholders and listening to their feedback and ideas before we come to any final conclusions. We are in the early stages of this process and will be communicating to our stakeholders and fans as we define our strategy for the future."

Miles also indicated in his statement that the version of the report the AP reviewed was one of many documents that was continuously updated during a lengthy process.

"BCG has produced many documents, including an early version of a document that is the subject of several news reports today, that include suggested elements for the plan," Miles said.

"BCG examined many important questions throughout this process, including how to define our overall brand, how our motorsports properties can attract more fans, how we can make our races more appealing to television viewers and live audiences, and how we can help our teams, partners and other stakeholders be more financially successful because of our relationship."

The consulting firm was hired at the end of last season, which many considered to be one of the best in terms of on-track competition. But boardroom politics and IndyCar's history of dysfunction overshadowed the racing and American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay's championship.

Randy Bernard was ousted as CEO in late October in what many fans viewed as a coup by power-hungry team owners and IndyCar founder Tony George, who made a late season play to buy back the open-wheel series.

Since then, Miles, who most recently led Indianapolis' successful Super Bowl effort, has been brought in as CEO of Hulman & Co. and is charged with hiring Bernard's replacement. Jeff Belskus, the former CEO, is filling in for Bernard in the interim.

With the March 24 season opener approaching and the series still lacking stability, auto racing observers were awaiting the report. However, it offered no quick fixes.

BCG said IndyCar was "the best pure racing motorsports league in the U.S. ... but the series suffers from lack of awareness."

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