Randy Bernard stepped down as the Izod IndyCar Series' chief executive… (Carlos Osorio / Associated…)
Randy Bernard stepped down as the Izod IndyCar Series' chief executive Sunday after three seasons of trying to revitalize the struggling sport that includes the legendary Indianapolis 500.
Bernard's departure came after a special meeting of directors of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., the series' parent that is led by the Hulman-George family, which said both sides agreed "the timing was right to pursue separate paths."
Jeff Belskus, chief executive of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., was named interim chief executive of IndyCar, whose 15-race season this year was capped by a return to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in September.
Bernard, who will remain an IndyCar advisor, found himself under increasing pressure this year.
There have been rumors that some as yet unidentified team owners were trying to oust Bernard, 45, and that former IndyCar head Tony George possibly was trying to reclaim control with a bid to buy the series.
Belskus reiterated in a statement Sunday that "IndyCar is not for sale."
Bernard, who formerly ran Professional Bull Riders Inc., was hired in early 2010 to boost IndyCar's popularity, which suffered during a 12-year dispute among rival factions that split the sport into two series.
He led some improvements, such as a new car this season, and many IndyCar observers gave high marks to the racing itself. But Bernard also found controversy.
IndyCar's television ratings remained low and a race planned in China fell through. Team owners were angered by the cost of the new car's replacement parts. And IndyCar was rocked a year ago by the crash in Las Vegas that killed two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon.