The cost of replacement parts for the new Dallara chassis introduced this season has also been a bone of contention between Bernard and team owners, and the prospect of tyre suppliers Firestone quitting the series has also been hanging heavy over the current administration. Recent moves have seen sudden exits from the series management team of commercial director Terry Angstadt and chief operating officer Marc Koretzky, although no details were given of their reasons for leaving.
Most crucially, the last-minute cancellation by local authorities of a valuable summer race in China which would have brought in nearly $9m in sanctioning fees left a big hole in this year's accounts. All in all, it's thought that the series made a loss of more than $7m this season, after Bernard had originally pledged when appointed that the series would break even in 2012 and make a profit in 2013.
With the Hulman-George family no longer willing to sustain such a financial drain on their resources, it opens the door to serious consideration of the George-led takeover bid that would assume all the series' debts.
George is no fan of Randy Bernard and the investment group behind the takeover bid is said to have the involvement of motorsports marketer Zak Brown, who is a potential replacement for Bernard as CEO. Other mooted candidates are Andretti Autosport's executive vice president and chief operating officer John Lopes, or Daytona International Speedway's president Joie Chitwood III, a former chief operating officer at IMS for seven years when George was the CEO there.
If Bernard were to depart, IBJ
sources say that the Hulman & Company board would put a short-term contingency plan in place to keep the series running, possibly with current IMS president Jeff Belskus stepping in as interim CEO until a longer-term solution - most likely the completion of the proposed takeover - could be enacted.
But fans and supporters of the series have been rallying around the widely-liked Randy Bernard and have been notably hostile to the idea of Tony George returning to a position of control of the series. For many, George is still responsible for the schism in US open wheel racing that resulted when he set up the Indy Racing League in the 1990s to break away from CART sanctioning, a split that wasn't resolved until reunification of IRL with CART's rump Champ Car World Series in 2008, by which time the sport's popularity had nosedived in comparison with NASCAR.
Bernard recently unveiled a 19-race season for 2013, including a number of "double-header" events and the addition of a new oval race at Pocono Raceway.