A few days ago the team at Open-Wheels sent our first Q&A to the boss.
These are the questions we wanted to know the answers to.
Next time, you get to ask what you want to know.
1: What do you enjoy the most about IndyCar and its fans?
INDYCAR has some of the most passionate and loyal fans in all of sports. I enjoy the enthusiasm they bring to the sport they love. And if there’s one thing the fans are passionate about it is the rich tradition and heritage of the sport.
2: What issue within IndyCar is the most pressing for 2012?
We remain focused on growing our television ratings. We must continue to show double-digit growth in our numbers. We made great gains last year but we realize we have a long way to go.
We also must continue to work with our promoters to make sure we are all bettering our product on and off the track at events. We need to make sure our fans experience great competition and entertainment at a great value at each and every event.
3: What decisions, if any, have you made since being with IndyCar that you would change if given the opportunity?
I feel it is important to look forward, not backward. I would rather look at what we can do to improve our series. I have a list of decisions that I believe we could have done better, and I think it is important that we learn from those. We must continue to stress improvement.
4: There have been many complaints about the recent goings on in the series. From the recent launch of the “mobile app” and new website, to the speeds of the DW12 on the ovals. If you could, just take a moment and address your concerns with these items, and provide the fans with your perspective on these issues?
We continue to learn and improve from the mistakes we have made. Think about how much we have taken on in the past 5 months. A new car, new engine manufacturers, the return to engine competition, a new technical director, a new race director, a new rule book, a new web site, a new phone app and a new chief operating officer. We grade everything we do, and although we are not getting straight As, I think for the most part we are seeing solid progress.
5: Three races into the season (Brazil is this weekend, April 29th) and already there have been some exciting races, and some controversy. How would you rate the new DW12 (on road courses) and the quality of racing?
The car has been exceptional in the first three races. Drivers such as Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais have been very complementary of the new car.
The level of competition in the series is so close right now, and it has been evident in the great on-track product we’ve had in the first three races of the season. There are four important factors we need to ensure our fans at the track – great competition, great entertainment, great value and credibility of the sport. I certainly think we’ve seen all four this season.
6: Brad Keselowski has been extremely outspoken about the “best drivers in the world” being in NASCAR and Formula 1. How would you respond to that statement with regards to IndyCar and its past, present, and future drivers?
I think Brad should talk to his boss about that; he may have a different opinion. I think that every form of motorsports has its own skill set specific to the series, and you can be a great NASCAR driver and not do worth a damn in another series or vise-versa. INDYCAR, F1, NHRA and NASCAR are all pinnacles in their disciplines, but they all have different qualities and fan bases, which allows for great motorsports competition. Just ask Rubens Barichello if he thinks it’s easy over here competing against the INDYCAR drivers. They are not good, they are extremely good. If Brad wants to come try his talent against them and see for himself, I am sure his boss could find him a car.
7: Take a moment to speak about Beaux Barfield. One of my biggest concerns is the one year contract. After just three races it is apparent he does not hesitate to pull the trigger, but he has also not been without his share of controversy. Are there plans underway to secure Beaux for a longer future with the series, and can we look forward to him becoming a more public face of the series?
INDYCAR does not comment on specifics of personnel agreements. I will say I stand behind my management and give them full support. (editorial note: Nice answer Randy. )
8: In the second and third races of this season, Brian Barnhart has been in the booth with NBC Sports to assist them in their broadcast of Barber, and Long Beach. The consensus from fans is that these two races were extremely watchable, and many even watched a second or third time. Are there plans to continue this with Brian, and moving forward, would this be an option that ABC might pursue to liven up their broadcasts?
I think we have two great partners in ABC and NBC Sports Network. We view it as a true partnership; they both know that INDYCAR is here to help when and where we are needed.
9: Has IndyCar been in discussion with ABC/ESPN about their quality (or lack thereof) in broadcast? And if so, what can you tell us about any expected changes, especially with more races outside of Indianapolis scheduled to be broadcast on their network?
ABC has been a great partner and you will see new broadcast elements launched around the Indianapolis 500. I think fans will be excited to see live streaming of in-car cameras on ESPN3.com during the remainder of our ABC races this season.
10: Just yesterday, Lotus announced the release of Dreyer and Reinbold, and Bryan Herta Autosport from their engine contracts. I see this as a major positive, however, how is the series working to ensure that these teams have engines available for testing prior to the Indianapolis 500, and is the series working to help them secure these new engine contracts ASAP?
INDYCAR is a sanctioning body and is willing to assist any way we can to ensure that our teams and manufacturers have a competitive platform.
Mr. Bernard, we appreciate your willingness to participate and wish you a great weekend in Brazil, as well as luck for the remainder of the season.