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Mixed reactions to IndyCar’s consulting group report

Mar 5, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

IndyCar Pocono Return Auto Racing AP

IndyCar sought some opinions and advice on how to improve the visibility and results of its product from the Boston Consulting Group, and last week the Associated Press gained access to a copy of the report. Reactions have been mixed to what the report had to offer. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway responded immediately after the report came out.

AP’s auto racing writer Jenna Fryer, who acquired the report, expanded on some of the details in her Monday “In the pits” column this week. Some suggestions – avoiding direct conflicts with the NFL and other racing series, and pairing international races on a single trip, for example – she considered “no brainers.”

Still, she did a good job of saying how the report ended with the line that IndyCar is “the best pure racing motorsports league in the U.S.” but then contradicts itself by offering ideas that remove the “pure racing” aspect of the equation. Among them, the possibility of a playoff at year’s end.

Noted open-wheel reporter Robin Miller, one of NBC Sports Network’s 2012 pit reporters who has done the “grid run” for two years, offered a more humorous take in his feature, “My IndyCar fixes for only $29.95.”

To the suggestion of a condensed season of 15 races in 19 weeks, Miller wrote the schedule needs expanding because six months out of the public consciousness is bad for business. A marketing strategy wanting to promote IndyCar drivers as “daredevils” triggered this: “Indy car racing has always been faster and more dangerous than stock cars so what now, shoot drivers out of a cannon in pre-race introductions and put a ramp on the front stretch at Iowa?”

Autoextremist editor Peter De Lorenzo took the report further to task, going so far as to say the series should no longer operate under the ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman-George family.

Lastly, RACER magazine editor David Malsher took a deep, detailed look beyond just the report in addressing a number of ideas IndyCar should consider to enhance its relevance. Embracing a new technological formula that would remove the “easy” bit of driving, and using some good quotes from interviews, notably one from two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran saying “An IndyCar should be an intimidating beast,” were among the suggestions.

  1. mickkraut - Mar 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I think what is being misunderstood is that these types of assessments are to generate conversation within an organization. They are not commissioned by a firm for the results to be immediately implemented without question or consideration.Being newly hired into the CEO role, this is a smart move by Mark Miles. He needs to know what ideas are out there within his community that some stakeholders may be reluctant to share without a buffer or complete anonymity. This allows everyone to feel a sense of inclusion and contribution. Someone is listening to them.

    Having been the recipient of similar reports in my professional life I can tell you that the recommendations are designed to start a deeper conversation within an organization and nothing more. The firm interviews a wide variety of stakeholders and solicits their opinions and thoughts in a neutral and non-judgemental way. They then distill the most cogent and actionable ideas into their findings. I imagine that Miles and his leadership team will then decide what ideas are the low hanging fruit that can be quickly and easily implemented, what merits further research and what ideas are non-starters.

    Personally I cant help but wonder if the postponement of the new Indy Lights car is due to a complete rethinking of the overall formula. The timing seems to support it being part of a larger consideration.

    To say this report is evidence that “…the series should no longer operate under the ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman-George family” exposes a lack of understanding about the process. The process is about fact finding and idea collection free of baggage and past bias…Robin Miller may have offered his services for $29.95 but being as close as he is to the players for so many years, there is no way he would have been able to collect the full range of opinions and ideas that BCG was able to do.

    When a report like this is commissioned it is about long term and fundamental change and improvements. You dont do this to find band-aids or quick fixes. This is a deliberate and focused attempt to solve bedrock and existential issues going forward. Fans need to be patient and realize that this the report isnt an end in itself, merely a means to an end…

    • racingmatt - Mar 6, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      I agree with your assessment here. While I do not agree with many of the BCG suggestions, I realize they are just that. The racing was better in 2012 and the “show” needs to improve or the viewers will continue to dwindle.

  2. randominternetpunter - Mar 6, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Long term vision my ass..
    I say put Miller in charge and reap the profits from his £29.95 worth of ideas.

    Speaking of Miller..He really should have a larger presence on your NBCSN IndyCar broadcasts.

  3. tonelok - Mar 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    At least this leak gets conversation going about what needs to happen for future growth and reestablishing identity. This is a necessary, important start to achieving the goal of relevance again. IndyCar has a great product and it needs strong, capable leadership (which in my opinion it already had) to help it achieve goals, one of which I think, should be to unseat NASCAR from the top of the ranks as the most popular form of racing in the U.S.

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