IndyCar courting Zak Brown as potential CEO

The new head of Hulman & Co. has at least two different

possible routes to take in rebuilding the IndyCar Series.

Option one for Mark Miles is hiring a new CEO to replace Randy

Bernard. A second scenario could lead to streamlined operations for

IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Miles in charge and

strong leaders running the day-to-day operations.

Which way Miles goes likely depends on how ongoing talks develop

with Zak Brown, founder of Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing

company Just Marketing Inc.

”He’s interested in doing something with us, and in his case, I

think his only interest would be if we put the pieces together and

he was the head of racing,” Miles told The Associated Press on

Saturday.

Brown was in the St. Petersburg paddock Friday talking to

several team owners, Miles and board members before leaving for

vacation on Saturday.

Miles said there are a few potential CEO candidates he’s

”looked at the resumes and thought `this might work,’ ” but that

conversations with Brown are the most serious. But it’s up to Brown

to decide if he’s truly interested in the job.

”He’s got a complicated life that he’s got to sort out, and

we’ve also got to do our due diligence. You don’t just fall in love

overnight,” Miles said. ”We continue to learn about each other

and how we think, and he can speak for himself – he’s got other

interests, and this isn’t a part-time gig. So we’ve got to

see.”

JMI does a large amount of business in Formula One that has

Brown in Europe quite often, and he was recently considering a

full-time move to London with plans to search for a home for his

family this month.

”I have a lot of passion for IndyCar and I’m getting to know

Mark,” Brown told AP in an E-mail en route to London. ”We are

exploring to see if there’s a way to work together. It’s a great

product and I’m positive I could contribute to its growth and

success.”

It’s not the first time Brown’s name has come up as a potential

head of IndyCar.

When series founder Tony George tried to regain control of

IndyCar in October, his proposal listed a management team that

included Brown and called for him to be the CEO and commissioner of

IndyCar.

Should Brown not be interested in IndyCar CEO, Miles said he’d

still like to include him in the series in some capacity. That

falls in line with his second option of streamlined operations for

IndyCar and IMS.

”It may not be that there’s not a next IndyCar CEO, per se,”

he said. ”Folks have sort of thought that we are just looking for

a person to replace Randy and I don’t know that’s where we’ll end

up. First thing is, our organization has kind of built two

organizations and you’ve got structure at the Indianapolis Motor

Speedway organization that has sales and marketing and licensing

and communications and then you’ve got the exact same functions

staffed differently at the IndyCar organization, across the street

from each other.

”So I think anybody coming to it would say, `Could we be a

higher-performing, more effective organization with more money to

invest in human resources if we put those together?”’

However it goes, team owner Roger Penske wants the focus to be

on moving the series forward and said team owners have wasted too

much time starting fires over small issues instead of concentrating

on growth. Asked why IndyCar continually sabotages itself, Penske,

while making a point to say he was ”a fan of Randy’s,” blamed

leadership.

”We’ve never had a strong enough leader as they do in NASCAR to

say, `Hey guys, here’s the rules, here’s how we race, and guess

what, if you don’t like it, park your car outside and sit in the

stands,”’ Penske said. ”That’s what we need. We need some

leadership.”

Chip Ganassi, who also participates in NASCAR and NASCAR-owned

Grand-Am, concurred.

”They have incompetent people tackling the issues. It’s that

simple,” Ganassi said. ”You have all these owners and these

people and team managers, people who have been around the sport for

20 years who can tell you how to do it, but they bring in someone

from the outside who just makes up the rules as they go along.

”This is not a dress rehearsal. We are professionals; we are

supposed to know that. There’s a fix for that, and it’s not an

overnight snap your fingers and Miles knows that. And it’s not one

guy. This one guy, you are not going to find one guy who can dunk

the ball, who can catch a touchdown pass and smack a homerun. Those

guys are hard to find. It’s going to take a guy to come in and put

a team together.”