Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League, participated in a Q & A session regarding today's announcement that the Indy Racing League will hold separate oval and road title contests within the overall IZOD IndyCar Series driver championship.
What was the basis for this initiative?
"After my first six weeks, I kept saying to myself, 'We need to be able to deliver a consistent message about our sport that separates us from other forms of auto racing.' What hit me is that we have the fastest and most versatile drivers and racecars in the world – and no one can deny that – and now we have to show why we're the fastest and most versatile. We have 17 events, but how do we create better story lines?
"I think there are two different demographics. I'd be willing to bet you that the oval demographic is more like a NASCAR audience, opposed to a street/road course demographic that is considerably different. How do we attract both of these, how do we bring them together and how do we create story lines that allow for a great ending to our season?
"If we crown a road champion, then an oval champion and come right back with the IZOD IndyCar Series champion, I think it really speaks volumes for the driver who wins the IZOD IndyCar Series championship because you have to be great at both disciplines in order to do it. It also assures our fan base that we're committed to giving them both ovals and road/street course events, and I think that's very important."
Fans will vote for the names of the trophies, which will honor two Indy car racing icons. How did that connection come about?
"By bringing our legends into it, we're bringing back the names that America remembers in the sport and honoring their legacy. I think the addition of the legends name will make it a prestigious honor to win one of these trophies."
In making future schedules, is an equal balance of ovals and road/street events an objective?
"I'd like to see it evenly balanced. When I did my due diligence prior to taking the job, I asked team owners how many events they would like. Most said between 16 and 20 events and we're right there. We want to build it smartly and slowly."