After a week of rumours about his position as the CEO of the IZOD IndyCar Series, Randy Bernard has officially stepped down following an emergency teleconference of the board of directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation on Sunday afternoon.
IMSC president Jeff Belskus will take over as CEO on an interim basis. Previously announced plans for a 19-race season in 2013 will continue uninterrupted.
"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 organisation 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," he added.
A former CEO of the Professional Bull Riders series, Bernard joined IndyCar in March 2010 on a five-year contract and has said repeatedly that he would not leave the series prematurely before the end of that period unless asked to do so by the owners.
However, speculation about his position reached fever pitch on Friday with reports in the Indianapolis Business Journal
quoting anonymous "sources familiar with the situation" to assert that Bernard had already been fired by the series owners on Thursday and was currently negotiating a severance package.
The reports were strongly refuted by a IMSC spokesperson on Friday, who said: "Randy has not been terminated and his employment status is the same as it was last week and last month."
Doug Boles had added: "At this point, Randy is not fired. That is the case at the moment and in the future." That future turned out to be a little over 48 hours.
Officially, Sunday's emergency board telemeeting was only called after Friday's IBJ
story sparked a media storm that many on the board felt made Bernard's position as CEO untenable and which could only be resolved by a "mutual separation."