New INDYCAR interim CEO Jeff Belskus has released the following statement to fans on the series’ web site, days after taking over for the departing Randy Bernard. The following statement is posted here without comment:
Open Letter to INDYCAR Fans:
Without a doubt, the last few days have been challenging for the INDYCAR community. We have received and heard many passionate opinions from caring fans of this sport, and we appreciate the communication.
While much of the conversation has been difficult, we must take this opportunity to harness the energy and emotion of this time for the good of the sport we all love. Before I discuss our commitment to you, the fan, for a strong INDYCAR in the future, I want to step back.
Today, I am in the same position as I was three years ago at this time, as the CEO of INDYCAR. I was previously in the position of CEO of INDYCAR in July 2009. In addition to leading INDYCAR through the remainder of the 2009 season, my focus was preparing INDYCAR for the 2010 season and searching for a permanent leader for the series. We considered and spoke with many potential leaders and ultimately hired Randy Bernard to lead INDYCAR in March 2010.
There has been, and continues to be, speculation and rumors that Randy was fired. That is just not true. A mutual separation and an advisory role for Randy was accepted last Sunday evening in a special board meeting.
Randy brought us fresh ideas and energizing leadership at a time when it was truly needed, and he helped us overcome the challenge of getting new cars created and competing.We thank him for his contributions. Today, we still face challenges and are moving to address them immediately, but we also have a great opportunity and reason for hope from which we can build.
We are actively executing our 2013 plan that includes new events, an experiment with double-header weekends, the return of the Triple Crown, the introduction of the movie ‘Turbo’ that features INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500, and the Texas race being broadcast in prime time on ABC. We are also reviewing our long-term plan, and we are focused on adding value to our stakeholders, creating more excitement and engagement with our current fans, and increasing our fan base.
So, where does all of this put, you, the fan? Quite frankly, in the most important spot of all.
Without you – your eyes watching our races, your social media reminders to your friends as to why you are passionate about our drivers and events, your financial sacrifice to travel to and purchase tickets to our races, and your passion to stand up, be counted and tell us your likes and concerns – we will not succeed.
The INDYCAR racing journey began more than 100 years ago, and we plan on being here for another 100 years.
We watch the racing for the racing. We do not want it to be about off-track politics. It is my job and the job of teams, drivers, owners and others in the INDYCAR community to use our energies to get the focus on our racing.
We watch racing because of our drivers and the on-track action, and this year the action and excitement were plentiful. Consider some of these 2012 moments that are great examples of why we watch racing:
–Rubens Barrichello, the most prolific starter in F1 history, tested an Indy car and liked it so much he chose to spend a season racing here
–The 2012 Indianapolis 500 had the most lead changes in the event’s history
–Takuma Sato risked everything in Turn 1 at Indy to make a pass that would have delivered him the most coveted victory in worldwide motorsports
–Ed Carpenter did the improbable and beat the giants of the sport for the second year in a row at the end of the season
–The 2012 championship went down to the last laps of the last race
–Ryan Hunter-Reay became just the second American series champion in 10 years
No question these last 96 hours have been tough on us all, and especially on you. The INDYCAR community must remain together as one unit. And despite our differences, owners, promoters, drivers and the series must communicate as one.
Together, we will power through this. And with your continued support, we will grow our sport and make INDYCAR as exciting as ever.
I commit to you that I, along with the staff at INDYCAR, have heard you, and we are going to make you proud that you are a fan of INDYCAR.