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What's the plan in IndyCar? Does anybody know?

By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer Modified: October 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm •  Published: October 30, 2012
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The Associated Press on Monday obtained a copy of George's five-page proposal, which had him listed only as member of the board in the group that would take over the management of IndyCar.

The proposal by ICS Acquisition didn't include a single car owner, just a management team that included: Zak Brown, founder and CEO motor sports marketing agency Just Marketing International, Mike O'Driscoll, chairman of Jaguar Heritage and a nonexecutive director of the Williams F1 team, Terry Angstadt, former president of IndyCar's commercial division and Claire Roberts, the CEO of ArbiterSports, an NCAA-owned sports technology company.

George's plan called for Brown to be the CEO and commissioner of IndyCar and O'Driscoll to be the president and chief operating officer. O'Driscoll would have also run the day-to-day operations of the series.

The offer would have taken the series away from George's mother and three sisters, and made IndyCar operate separately from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It included a stipulation that a sanctioning agreement would be reached on the Indianapolis 500.

George's offer, which was for $5 million cash and proof of $25 million in reserves for stabilization of the league, expired Oct. 15.

He resigned from the board Oct. 19, citing a conflict of interest in holding a seat while pursuing the series.

“I realize that my recent efforts to explore the possibility of acquiring IndyCar represent the appearance of a conflict, and it is in everyone's best interest that I resign,” George said in a statement that day. “It goes without saying that I want to do what is best for this organization.”

Vilified two weeks ago, it now appears that George indeed did want only what was best for the series.

Penske is now blasting the board for a pattern of bad decisions, and George apparently felt the same way. Bernard wouldn't have made the cut under George's new group, but George was at least trying to take the board out of the picture and take a step toward fixing what is clearly a broken model in IndyCar management.

There were no public reassurances from IndyCar on Monday that everything will be fine, the series can do better without Bernard and that a strategy is in place for growth and stability.

That's a problem, said Ramsey Poston, a crisis communications expert and president of Tuckahoe Strategies who managed NASCAR communications for nearly 10 years.

“Without a leader, a vision or an apparent transition plan, IndyCar is in crisis,” Poston said. “There is no offseason in sports and every day that goes by without a leader or a well-defined plan is damaging to the 2013 season and beyond. At this point, every major stakeholder, including the fans, team owners, sponsors and broadcasters are watching closely and wondering what is happening.

“IndyCar needs to demonstrate sooner than later that it has a plan that will positively move the series forward.”

But team owner Chip Ganassi said this current storm has been blown out of proportion by the media and is much ado about nothing.

“Every year you've got the same old people asking the same old questions and the fact of the matter is IndyCar racing goes up and down with the rest of the economy. For five people in the press to be wound up about it, it is not really having the finger on the pulse of what's going on,” he said Monday. “Everything is fine. We have the same old problems today that we did before Randy got there. A lousy TV package, the same old gravitational problems any sport has today.

“It's the offseason and there's nothing else to talk about So everybody just take a deep breath.”


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