There’s been one rumor that’s stuck around despite Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull’s statements otherwise: that Hull is one of the candidates to take over Derrick Walker’s role as IndyCar’s president of competition and operations. Hull insists someone else is needed in the role.
“I’m very flattered that people think I’m capable of doing that job,” said Hull of the persistent rumors. “But I’m saddened that Derrick Walker—one of us—can’t get the support in the paddock.”
By “one of us,” Hull refers to a man from the teams themselves, who has ample passion for making the sport viable as he’s lived it on the team side, and thus has a perspective on what the teams themselves would like to see from the seties. Departing IndyCar president Derrick Walker not only has a background in team ownership, but Walker is leaving to focus more on his Tudor United SportsCar team, which is losing its titular Falken Tire sponsorship after this year.
“Derrick leaving should be a wake-up call at Indy,” argued Hull. If someone with that much passion for the sport is saying goodbye after only a couple years, that’s a bad sign.
When we asked Hull about the open position, Hull said that he thinks that IndyCar may need more than just a team guy to pull off what they need. IndyCar, he argues, needs to garner a fan base more than anything else. One of its biggest problems is a lack of promotion, particularly when it faces competition from all kinds of other sports that complete for viewers’ attention.
IndyCar, Hull argued, needs to support its brand into the future. This means that races besides the Indianapolis 500 need much more promotion than they currently get. With Racer reporting that two to four new races are a go for next year, including the addition of Road America (yessssss!!!), IndyCar needs to make sure they’re all well promoted and well attended. Everyone already knows about the Indy 500. It’s the rest of the season that needs more love.
Everyone on staff has to be on-board for changes to happen, though—especially to get the buy-in needed to properly push the product. The actual racing happening in IndyCar is fantastic. Everyone has opinions on the day-to-day bits of IndyCar that Hull argues sometimes get in the way of promoting the series, though. This year in particular has seen the paddock completely split on several issues, which seems to get more press than the racing that’s being done. Hull believes that the loudest voice needs to be a united one—of the paddock, the promoters and the series staff themselves—all saying, “hey, come watch this, because it’s some really great racing.”
It’s up to Walker’s replacement to do the uniting and make sure people start paying attention the IndyCar’s full schedule. That being said, Hull’s been telling everyone—not just us—that it’s unlikely for that replacement to be him. Hull told USA Today:
You would have to move heaven and earth for me to leave Chip Ganassi Racing. I was very, very saddened when I read the press release. It was the first inkling I had that this was going to happen. Derrick has enormous passion for IndyCar racing. By saying that, it’s obvious that IndyCar needs to look at itself and understand why people who have that degree of passion can’t get it done.
Hull has been with Ganassi since 1992. It’s a role he enjoys and does well.
Perhaps it’s time for IndyCar to step out of their usual candidate pool to find the affable marketing genius they really need?
Photo credit: AP Images
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