I think these first few signs of team owner unrest are just the tip of the iceberg. The Hulman-George family exercised their control of the sport with respect to the 2012 car in exactly the same way that Tony George proposed he rule Indycar when he tried to buy the sport in November 1991: he would hand pick a bunch of puppet “advisors” and then, supposedly after consultation with them, he would unilaterally make all the decisions and the team owners were to be given only the choice of playing along or quitting the sport. The crucial difference is that then (1991) the sport had multiple brand-name sponsors and worldwide popularity and Tony presumed that they would pay for his inevitable mistakes; just as they had at the Indy 500 whenever the Hoosier family screwed the pooch.
The Gomers are so gullible (and stupid) that the family and the Rodeo Clown have them convinced that the team owners had some input into the 2012 specifications – which it should be noted have yet to be completed (hence the delay of the show cars) – and thus they think the owners are being unreasonable in objecting to its implementation now. This played into the Gomers’ near universal paranoia about “evil team owners” (which is almost a requirement to become a card-carrying Gomer). Additionally, Cotman made it clear in his most recent interview that almost no one outside of the Dallara factory has been able to proceed with plans and/or designs for the 2012 car because he (and the League) are keeping them “close to their chest” (meaning secret). Thus, the Gomers don’t see the contradiction between the team owners’ supposed participation in creating the new specifications and the fact that they won’t know what they are until League officials like Ropin’ Randy present the specs to them as a fait accompli. In short, the first that the team owners will know that there might be something they should object to will be when the nearly completed project element is presented to them in piecemeal fashion; which is exactly what is taking place now.
For us haters the beauty of this situation is that the iron-fisted control of the Hoosier family is an illusion; and without their realizing it the team owners have retained veto power over the entire process.
The reality of the 2012 Indycar is that the Hulman-Georges had their minions draw up a list of 110 possible “advisors”, who once selected by them would be given eighty days to “report their recommendations to Bernard, who would then make the final decision on the series’ new chassis and engine.” That, of course, was a crock; Ropin’ Randy no more made that decision than I did. Instead, the Hoosier family had already mapped out a select list of favored firms and old friends (aka “partners”) who would be given the contracts to produce the new car. The H-G’s had a shopping list of bullet points – chief among them being that the new car had to cost half of what the current car costs – and the ICONIC seven-member committee’s only task was to suggest how the family’s list might be turned into reality. Once that was accomplished, the family took it from there and unilaterally negotiated the contracts for the new car.
Right there, however, is where the family is most vulnerable: because they refused to share power and/or ownership of the next generation of Indycar, it is their name(s) and collateral on the contracts and not the team owners. Yet, the arrogant Terre Haute family is certain that they can force the team owners to buy their pig in a poke and save them from financial ruin. Unfortunately for them, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and the team owners are relatively free to buy or NOT BUY the H-G’s 2012 pipe dream. And, contrary to the assumption of most Gomers, not just anyone can come in off the street and run an Indycar team no matter how cheap the equipment is.
As if that wasn’t enough bad news, the H-G’s screwed up as usual and already the new car is starting to approach the cost of the old car with such things as an uncapped tire supply and expensive kit parts and it hasn’t even turned a wheel in anger yet. The bottom line here is that the H-G’s have pinned their hopes for getting out from under their ruinous support of their boutique motor sport on a cheap 2012 racecar and that is more and more proving to be a false hope. Meanwhile, all the external financial support for the league is being put in jeopardy by the public’s wholesale rejection of the current Indycar product. The chances are very good that before the end of the 2011 ICS season that one or more of the league’s primary sponsors will announce their intention to disengage from the sport. If that happens the ICS will continue to exist solely on the basis of the Hulman-George checkbook; and their bank account is getting thinner with each passing day.
Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of coconuts.