The owners of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship have strongly denied media reports that Randy Bernard, its chief executive officer, has been fired by the management board.
The rumours surfaced in the online version
of the Indianapolis Business Journal
on Friday afternoon, which cited anonymous "sources familiar with the situation" to assert that Bernard had been fired on Thursday and was currently negotiating a severance package with the owners, Hulman & Company.
However, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - also owned by Hulman & Company - immediately denied the report and said that Bernard had categorically not been fired, and nor was any such move in prospect.
"Randy has not been terminated and his employment status is the same as it was last week and last month," Doug Boles told IBJ
and SPEED.com. "At this point, Randy is not fired. That is the case at the moment and in the future."
The Press Association
also contacted Bernard directly, who himself flatly denied the reports of his sacking or resignation. Bernard added that nor was he in the process of discussing any financial terms with the board relating to any potential departure, having said many times in the past that he would see out the full five year term of his contract.
The former CEO of the Professional Bull Riders series, Bernard was hired in 2010 on a five-year contract to replace Tony George, who is a member of the Hulman-George family and a current co-owner of Ed Carpenter Racing. George last week quit the board of Hulman & Company after it was confirmed he was fronting a takeover bid for the IndyCar Series involving a number of other team owners.
Friday's report in the IBJ
stated that the alleged sacking of Bernard as CEO this week is not connected to the buyout bid but instead stems from board dissatisfaction about the overall recent performance of IndyCar. However, it could also be a case of other parties attempting to force Bernard out by making his position untenable by a relentless media briefings against him aimed at fanning the uncertainty over the series' management and ownership.
"Come on people. Either keep Randy or fire him but this is foolish and embarrassing for the sport," current series driver Graham Rahal posted on Twitter as the latest rumours swirled around.
Bernard was brought in to stem the heavy financial losses of the series under George, but after a reduction in the losses in 2011 the series has had a number of setbacks in the last 12 months. There was the tragic death of Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon in a horror accident last October at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; the departure of the series' biggest star Danica Patrick to NASCAR; a sharp decline in race attendance and TV ratings; and the disastrous showing of Lotus as one of the three engine manufacturers Bernard had brought into the championship this season.