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Randy Bernard should suspend IndyCar owners who have knives out

Published May 30, 2012

Last year, when an owner in the Indy Lights series tried to lead a revolt against management, he was suspended from competition until 2013.

Kicked out for 18 months.

Now comes word that certain people within the Indy car owners group are trying to lead a revolt against IZOD IndyCar Series President and CEO Randy Bernard.

Several high-profile personalities in the series have been identified by at least one reporter.  The owner (or owners) is  allegedly calling other owners and urging them to join in the revolt.

Bernard let the world know about this insurrection on Tuesday night with (what else?) a Tweet:

“It is true that an owner is calling others trying to get me fired,” he said in reference to a team owner. “I have had several owners confirm this. disappointing.”

I hope that Randy Bernard suspends the owner, or owners, from competition for the next 18 months, exactly like the Indy Lights owner was kicked out for doing pretty much the same thing.

The Indy Lights owner is Mark Olson, and his crime was protesting against what he thought was favouritism being shown toward one owner in particular. and soliciting support for his position from other owners. The League acted swiftly and decisively: it told him to take a hike.

Bernard has to do the same thing with the one or two owners in the big league who are trying to stab him in the back.

If he doesn’t move to exert control immediately, it will only be a matter of time before he is either fired himself, or forced to resign.

The fact that I’m even writing about this is appalling.

Can you imagine this happening in NASCAR?

Neither can I.

They started to build the track for the Honda Indy Toronto this week — “they” being about 200 construction workers under the watch of Jim Tario, director of operations.

Over the next six weeks — 39 days to be exact (“we work five days a week until a week or two out and then we go to seven days,” he said in conversation) — those people will construct a world-class racing circuit through the CNE grounds and out along Lake Shore Blvd. W. using more than 2,000 steel-reinforced concrete barriers each measuring 12 feet in length and three feet in height.

“It takes us six weeks because we want to do it right and to make it safe and we can’t work where we close down the whole site, which is the case at some events,” he said. “There are always things going on here (Exhibition Place).”

It doesn’t take as long to take it down — 21 days, to be exact.

The race, with the exception of one year, has been an annual summertime fixture going back to 1986 and many things have changed — the construction of the Direct Energy Centre, the renovation of the old Automotive Building into the Allstream Centre and the construction of BMO Field, among them.

But Tario let it be known on Wednesday that there are still some pieces of catch fencing around that were new when the race first started.

“Some of the original ‘panels’ of catch fencing were built so well that they’re still useable today,” he said. “But just about the entire track has been redone. The blocks are higher, the fence is higher.”

Tario, who is director of operations at the IndyCar races in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Sao Paulo, Brazil, as well as Toronto, has been doing this job since the very first Molson Indy.

Does he still get excited?

“I enjoy the challenges,” he said. “There are always challenges because, although the basic circuit remains the same, there have to be adjustments. But you can say that I like my work.”

And the people he works with like him, too — so much so that in 1991, when the race took place shortly before he got married, they presented him with a video tribute that was played the morning of the race on the giant video screens that encircle the race track.

There were very few people in the stands; the video was full of all sorts of inside jokes along the lines of eulogies normally heard at funerals.

You know the kind: “You’re getting married, your life’s over” —  that sort of thing

The best line came at the end when his sweetheart Susan said: “He’s not dead, he’s just getting married.”

However, there were  some people around who saw that video but missed hearing the last line.

At about 11 o’clock that morning, Stan Clinton, then-president of the American Racing Press Association, walked up to me in the media centre.

“God, isn’t it awful about that fellow Tario?” he said.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Such a young, robust guy and now he’s dead, ” he said.

“Dead! That’s awful. When did it happen?” I said.

I mean, I’d seen Jim sitting in his little golf cart earlier that day, watching the spoof video his pals had put together for him, but you never know.

“It was on all the big TV screens this morning, ” Stan said. “They had tributes to him, and everything.”

“That was a joke, ” I said, shouting.

“He’s not dead, he’s just getting married.”

My voice got louder.

“HE’S NOT DEAD, HE’S JUST GETTING MARRIED!”

“Holy cow, “ said Clinton. “I’d better go tell the others.”

“What others?”  I said.

“I’ve been telling all the photographers that Jim Tario died,” he said.

“I have to go tell them that he’s still alive before they see him riding around in his golf cart and think they’re seeing a ghost.”

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