The board of directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation convened a special meeting Sunday, Oct. 28 after which it announced in a statement that Randy Bernard will relinquish his position as CEO of IndyCar, effective immediately. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. President and CEO Jeff Belskus – who also serves as the president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns IndyCar – was appointed as interim CEO of IndyCar.
“We are very grateful for the tireless effort that Randy has invested into learning, understanding and working to grow the IndyCar Series over the last three racing seasons,” Belskus said (far left, with Bernard (LEFT). “As both Randy and our organization have reflected on the past season and as we look toward the opportunities ahead and how to best take advantage of them, we agreed that the timing was right to pursue separate paths.”
Bernard, who joined IndyCar in March 2010, said he believed he is leaving IndyCar in a better position than when he arrived.
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the entire IndyCar community, its teams, drivers, loyal partners and fans,” Bernard said. “The last three years have produced some exciting, and some difficult, times. But we have created a foundation for IndyCar that positions it to grow over the next several years, and I am proud of what everyone at IndyCar has been able to accomplish since I came on board.”
Bernard was also grateful for the support of the Hulman-George family during his tenure.
“I want to thank the Hulman-George family, especially Josie (George), for giving me the opportunity and privilege to work with the organization and to help set a course and direction for IndyCar,” Bernard said. “With the family's firm commitment to the betterment of the sport and the dedication of our teams, drivers, partners and fans, IndyCar is better poised for success than it has been in many years.”
Belskus credited Bernard with successfully navigating IndyCar through a challenging and important time period that included the development and rollout of the first new chassis rules in nine years and the introduction of a new engine platform and multiple engine manufactures after six years of a single-supplier format.
Belskus added that Bernard would still provide input into the overall operation of IndyCar through an ongoing advisory capacity with IndyCar. Bernard said he was looking forward to staying involved.
“I have developed a passion for the sport of IndyCar, and I look forward to being involved at a strategic level as an advisor to the IndyCar leadership,” Bernard said. “As IndyCar fans, we need to unify behind the sport in order to move it to the next level, and I look forward to providing input and being part of that unified voice along the way.”
Belskus, who served as CEO of IndyCar from July 2009 through February 2010, will continue in his current roles in addition to being named interim CEO of IndyCar. Belskus said a specific timeline had not been established for announcing a permanent replacement, but added that future IndyCar leadership structure will be addressed as part of a current strategic planning process that includes assistance from global business management firm The Boston Consulting Group and would incorporate consultation with IndyCar stakeholders.
“The organization is full of talented professionals, and we will continue to prepare for what will be a very exciting 2013 racing season,” Belskus said. “Once again, IndyCar is not for sale, and the organization remains completely committed to owning and operating IndyCar.”
Bernard's future had been subject to ongoing speculation since it was revealed that founder and former chief Tony George was involved with a group attempting to purchase the IndyCar organization from Hulman & Company. George stepped down from the H&C board on Oct. 19 to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest amid his efforts.
Bernard oversaw a complete overhaul of the IndyCar Series during his tenure, including the introduction of the new DW12 chassis and accompanying technical package, the return of multiple engine manufacturers, and a revamp of key staff. However he also attracted criticism from certain quarters of the paddock, particularly with regard to the commercial terms of contracts with suppliers such as Dallara.