Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and COO Joie Chitwood has announced that he will be stepping down from his position after this weekend's NASCAR Allstate 400 at the Brickyard to join the International Speedway Corporation.

Chitwood joined the IMS staff as senior vice-president of business affairs in October 2002, before being promoted to president and COO two years later, overseeing daily operations at the Speedway, including both the Hall of Fame Museum and Brickyard Crossing Golf Course. During his tenure, the IMS has continued to grow in all aspects of its business operations, including the addition of both F1 and, more recently, MotoGP to the circuit's schedule.

Chitwood was one of the first staff members of the Indy Racing League, acting as liaison to its teams, and, in 2002, he had the honour of serving as pace car driver for the Indianapolis 500, nearly 70 years on from his family's connection to the Brickyard beginning in the late 1930s when his grandfather competed in the 500.

"After last fall's successful Red Bull Indianapolis GP event and the successful launch of the Speedway's Centennial Era, I began to start thinking about new challenges," Chitwood revealed, "Because of my family's history here at the Speedway, it was very difficult to make this decision to leave. Since my grandfather started bringing me here when I was young and knowing he raced in the 500, I had a lifetime of memories for this place before joining the company in 1996 as an Indy Racing League employee."

Before joining the IMS executive staff, Chitwood was vice-president and general manager of Raceway Associates LLC, which oversaw construction of the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, and he will maintain his links to the motorsport world by returning home to Florida to take up the new role of vice-president of business operations for ISC in Daytona Beach. His last day with IMS will be Thursday 6 August.

Recently appointed Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO Jeff Belskus will assume the daily responsibilities of managing the Speedway following Chitwood's departure, and it has not been determined if Chitwood will be replaced.

"This is a disappointment for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Belskus said, "Joie provided the leadership you would expect for a facility that hosts the largest sporting events in the world. With his history in the sport, combined with his business acumen, Joie was well-suited for the role of president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we appreciate how he has represented IMS. We wish him all the best."

Chitwood's departure follows shortly after the exit if long-time IMS CEO Tony George, who was ousted from power by family members last momth.