Changes at IndyCar shouldn't affect Belle Isle Grand Prix Randy Bernard is out. Could Tony George be in?
Rumors regarding the IZOD IndyCar Series have been tumbling about in a motorsports clothes dryer since Bernard stepped down – more likely was dismissed – as CEO of the Indianapolis-based open-wheel series Sunday.
We know this: Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. President and CEO, has been appointed interim CEO of IndyCar.
We’ve also heard that Tony George – the Indy Racing League founder and the man at least partly responsible for ripping apart open-wheel racing in North America in 1996 – wants in as owner of the IndyCar series.
That has fans of IndyCar and CART stalwarts shouting from rooftops, “No way!”
While Bernard had his critics – there was a push by some team owners at this summer’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to have him removed – he was a stand-up guy with some decent ideas on how to make the series more entertaining to fans.
George, who has dabbled as an IndyCar team owner over the years since he resigned as President and CEO of the IMS in 2009, is still hated by many in the sport for opening a chasm in open-wheel racing that NASCAR filled quickly.
Belle Isle Grand Prix Chairman Bud Denker told me this week he didn’t think Bernard’s exit would have any effect on the 2013 race in Detroit, which is scheduled for May 31-June 2 and will feature an IndyCar doubleheader.
“I’ve already called Jeff Belskus about any changes to our program, and there are none,” said Denker, a senior executive with Penske Corp. “Right now, it is full steam ahead for the race. We are signing new sponsors, and hospitality chalets are selling out fast.”
Denker said he’d had no problem with Bernard and that he has been told IndyCar isn’t for sale.
“I’ve heard a lot of bantering back and forth and the rumors,” Denker said. “I thought Randy did a pretty good job. He brought in new manufacturers to the series and new venues. I just hope they can get this issue of leadership sorted out, and we can get some continuity in regards to who is boss. We need to fill the void as quickly as possible.” Detroit Free Press