Archive for November, 2019

Does it Really Matter?

Posted in IndyCar on November 15, 2019 by Oilpressure

Among all the speculation that has occurred over the last couple of weeks regarding Roger Penske’s purchase of IndyCar, IMS and IMS Production there is one that doesn’t interest me in the least. I’m very curious to learn of the big-picture plans that Penske has for both. I’m also anxious to learn about the little details; like who will give the command to start engines next May or will double-points still be a thing.

But one thing that a lot of people seem to be anguishing over, holds no interest for me whatsoever – the purchase price.

I’ve never been one to fret over how much a co-worker makes or how much a friend paid for their home. About thirty years ago, my first wife and I bought a new home. One of her friends came over to see it and blatantly asked us how much we paid for it. Since I thought it was a rude question, I quickly came up with a rude answer before my then-wife could even answer. I flat-out told her it was none of her business.

When the rude friend left, my wife told me how I had embarrassed her. I told her it was the friend who embarrassed her because it showed what rude friends she has. Exchanges like this were frequent in that marriage, and that probably explains why it ended in divorce. Fortunately, I have a much better relationship with my second wife, but I digress…

Unfortunately, that story didn’t end there. The rude friend went to the court house to look up the purchase price, then went so far as to let us know she had done it. Did it really matter that much?

I grew up in a time when it was considered rude to brag on how much you paid for something. Likewise, it was just as rude to ask someone that same question. Based on Roger Penske’s reaction when he was asked the purchase price in last week’s press conference – he feels the same way. After he explained that the information was between two private companies; whoever the person was that asked the purchase price, was on the receiving end of a glare from Penske that would send shivers up my spine. I felt embarrassed for him, because even as another question was being asked – Penske kept staring down the offender as if to get the point across to him and anyone else watching to never ask that question again.

I’ve seen estimates as low as $250 Million and as high as $2 Billion. But no one really has any idea, except for those directly involved in the negotiations – and they’re not talking.

Does it really matter?

Most of us cannot even fathom the kind of money we’re talking about here – even on the low-end of the estimates. So it’s not as if any of us could’ve matched or beaten Penske’s offer.

I know that some are just curious about such things, but I think others may have other motives. They want to be able to prove that one side got fleeced. My question is, who among us are privy to the books for Hulman and Company? Unless you know every line-item on their balance sheet, there is no way any of us can make any type of estimate as to the worth of the company.

We have no idea how much revenue IMS takes in. Until Curt Cavin counted the seats in 2004, we had no idea how many seats the facility held. For the record, at that time there were 257,325 seats. That was before thousands of seats were torn down outside of Turn Three, as well as the First Turn Terrace – which were bleachers that sat inside ot Turn One. Now, it’s closer to 235,000. Prior to Cavin’s espionage work to count the seats – it was a closely guarded secret. Attendance is also kept under wraps each year. Each year you hear estimates of 300,000 to 400,000 all the way up to a half-million people on Race Day – counting officials, team personnel, media, track workers, etc.

You might be able to get a gauge on ticket sales, but do we know how much Gainbridge paid for presenting rights last year? What about concessions? What kind of cut does IMS get from NBC for the TV package? How much do they lease each suite for? How much does Arrow pay to erect their mobile suite? These are just a few of the many revenue streams that the Indianapolis 500 generates. What about NASCAR? The Brickyard 400 sells just a fraction of what it used to in ticket sales, but my understanding is that the track makes so much money from NASCAR’s TV deal that it doesn’t really matter.

Even events like Lights at the Brickyard in November and December probably brings in a healthy amount each night. I have no way of even guessing, but the two times I’ve been there for that Christmas event – cars have been lined up on 16th Street waiting to get in. At $35 and $50 a pop – that can make for a healthy bottom-line for a race track in December.

My point is, we have no idea how much IMS is worth. Consequently, we have no clue if one side took advantage of the other. I would not be surprised if Roger Penske ended up paying less than some other offers. That would make sense.

If you were selling the home that you grew up in, and had over fifty years of wonderful childhood and adult memories there – wouldn’t you take less if you had an offer from a family friend that you knew would respect and take care of the place, as opposed to a real-estate developer who had the potential to tear down your childhood home and build a duplex where your homestead once stood? I know I would.

With so many pressing questions and major concerns facing Roger Penske over the coming months and years, why are so many people wasting time and energy pursuing the elusive purchase price. I would think there are far more important things to focus our energy on. After all… Does it really matter?

George Phillips

The Right Person in the Right Job

Posted in IndyCar on November 13, 2019 by Oilpressure

This will seem like shameless self-promotion, but I promise you it’s not. Just stay with me on this. This past Saturday, I was a guest on Steve Zautke’s radio show, The Final Inspection, on 105.7 FM The Fan in Milwaukee; to discuss how I think Roger Penske’s purchase of IMS and the NTT IndyCar Series will affect the series specifically.

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What to Change, What to Keep

Posted in IndyCar on November 8, 2019 by Oilpressure

During Monday’s press conference to announce that Roger Penske had bought the racing portfolio of Hulman and Company (IndyCar, IMS and IMS Productions), Penske made a point to say that he will go around different departments within all three entities and have them tell what they think needs improving. By the time the sale is finalized in early January, he and his team will have a Top-Ten list to work from.

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The Sale

Posted in IndyCar on November 6, 2019 by Oilpressure

Where do I begin?

It’s been roughly forty-eight hours since we learned that Roger Penske has purchased the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the Hulman-George family. But even after a couple of days, I’m still having a little trouble sorting all of this out in my head.

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A Monday Morning Conversation

Posted in IndyCar on November 4, 2019 by Oilpressure

After nearly three months, Paul Dalbey of and I got together again via Skype to discuss what has been going on in the world of the NTT IndyCar Series – with our video series Two Sites Unite. To say this is old-school technology would be an understatement.

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Posted in IndyCar on November 1, 2019 by Oilpressure

I have tried my best to write about other topics this offseason, but the gift that keeps on giving has given us more to talk about. Arrow McLaren SP cannot seem to get out of their own way when it comes to negative publicity. Every time we look up, it seems that the newly renamed team has stepped in it yet again.

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