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Official: Randy Bernard exits as series CEO

"Once again, IndyCar is not for sale, and the organization remains completely committed to owning and operating IndyCar," he said.

The official statement announcing Bernard's departure did not state any reasons at all for the move, but the decision by the board to accept Bernard's resignation as CEO is believed to be motivated by a sharp rise in losses by the series in 2012.

IBJ's report on Friday said that these had spiked to over $7m, partly due to the last-minute cancellation of a lucrative race scheduled for China over the summer. That had been expected to bring in around $9m in sanctioning fees until the local authorities pulled out of the arrangement.

While popular with fans, Bernard's decision to stand up to team owners over key decisions has left him increasingly at odds with them in recent months. The cost of replacement parts for the new Dallara chassis was also a major bone of contention between the owners and Bernard's management team. Rumours that some of the car owners were actively lobbying the board of owners to have Bernard removed surfaced in May in the run-up to the Indianapolis 500, and Bernard controversially went public to confirm the rumours via Twitter.

After that the speculation died down, but since the end of the 2012 season last month the rumours have returned up and gathered even more momentum. The news that a formal buyout bid had been presented to the board by Tony George only escalated the furore still further.

Tony George is a controversial figure for many fans of US open sport, who still hold him 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. It was a split that wasn't resolved until the 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.

Even if the mooted buyout was to go through, George is unlikely to want to take over again as CEO. The investment group behind the takeover bid is said to have the involvement of motorsports marketer Zak Brown, who is seen as the leading replacement for Bernard as CEO.

Other suggested 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.

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October 29, 2012 3:15 PM

It's hard to believe that the board would be foolish enough to take a step backward like this. Roger Penske was quoted as saying you can't manage a business (which is exactly what Indy Car is) by replacing the top manager every few years. 2012 produced the best open wheel racing that the U.S. has seen in many years. An American champion, oval racing where you actually had to drive the car, lot's of passing on road courses and 8 different winners. An extremely short sighted decision.

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