Bernard Out as INDYCAR C.E.O., Effective Immediately
Belskus Appointed Interim C.E.O.
Randy Bernard (photo courtesy IMS)
Randy Bernard is out as the C.E.O. of the Izod INDYCAR Series after a special Sunday meeting of the board of directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
Bernard joined the series in 2010 after a successful run as C.E.O. of the Professional Bull Riders, and was completing the third year of a five-year contract.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (I.M.S.) President and C.E.O. Jeff Belskus was appointed as interim C.E.O. 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 in a statement released by I.M.S. on Sunday. “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 grew a following with fans with his personable nature, which included allowing fans to e-mail him directly said, “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's reign as the C.E.O. was marked with controversy and tragedy, in addition to several on-track successes, including the return of engine competition.
The series debuted a new car under Bernard, one that delivered one of the finest Indianapolis 500’s in memory, but didn’t deliver on the multiple “aerokits” that INDYCAR fans were promised. Those aerokits were a key component of the ICONIC Advisory Committee that Bernard led.
Just days after the “500,” which saw a record number of lead changes, Bernard revealed that a team owner wanted him fired. That took the focus off the on-track product, and returned it to the factional infighting that has plagued the sports for nearly two decades.
It was Bernard who promoted the Izod INDYCAR World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011. The race was never completed, however due to a 15-car crash that resulted in the tragic death of 2-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Wheldon was in the race chasing a $5 million bonus that he could have earned had he won the race. Bernard and his team were sharply criticized for the way the aftermath of Wheldon’s death was handled.
Despite another exciting season, one that ended with American Ryan Hunter-Reay taking the series points championship, television ratings have lagged far below expectations.