The Randy Bernard era in INDYCAR is officially over.
Bernard, who took over as CEO of the series in 2010, has stepped down from the role following a special meeting of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors this afternoon. Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus will take over Bernard’s duties on an interim basis.
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the entire INDYCAR community, its teams, drivers, loyal partners and fans,” Bernard said in a statement from the Speedway. “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 shepherded the series through several major events, including the tragic death of Dan Wheldon last fall and the introduction of new cars and engines this past season. He also succeeded in creating an expanded schedule in an effort to give more exposure to the sport.
However, he has been criticized for multiple matters, including: The cost of the new Dallara DW12s and its parts; a deficit that was caused by the cancellation of the August race at Qingdao, China; and a tweet he posted this past June shortly after the Indianapolis 500 that said a team owner wanted him fired.
“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,” said Belskus. “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 will continue to work with INDYCAR in an advisory role, about which he said that he was looking forward to staying involved “on a strategic level.”
“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,” said Bernard.
In the statement, Belskus said that a specific timetable in finding a permanent replacement for Bernard as INDYCAR CEO had not yet been established. He also reiterated that the series was not for sale — perhaps a nod to recent reports of series founder Tony George and a group of investors looking to purchase it from the Hulman-George family.
“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.”