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Controversial IndyCar Chief Steps Down

Targeted by owner’s coup.

by on Oct.29, 2012

The fiery Las Vegas crash that took the life of Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was one of many missteps that led to Bernard's ouster.

Randy Bernard, the head of the IndyCar racing series, has stepped down after a controversial, three-year reign following an angry revolt by team owners determined to oust him.

The announcement comes despite widespread praise for the IndyCar Series which was credited with having one of its best seasons ever.  Among other developments, Chevrolet returned to the racing program this past year, a season that saw IndyCar introduce its first all-new car in nine years.

But the series has been plagued by dissent, some owners openly talking of a coup against Hulman & Co., which controls both the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Despite the strong showing this past year, Bernard was blamed for a number of missteps that hurt both the racing league and his own position as its chief executive.  Among the most criticized moves was a decision to hold the series’ final race of 2011 in Las Vegas at a track that some experts felt was too dangerous at IndyCar speeds.

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Indy 500 Winner Wheldon Killed in Horrific Crash

"Like a war scene from Terminator."

by on Oct.17, 2011

A fiery crash takes the life of Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and brings the IndyCar race in Las Vegas to a halt. Photo courtesy The Las Vegas Journal-Review.

What was supposed to be a celebration of a successful IndyCar season turned deadly when a chain reaction collision sent 15 cars careening like flaming pinballs across the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon pronounced dead two hours later from his injuries.

The two-time Indy 500 winner was caught up in a massive pile-up triggered when two cars touched wheels and spun out of control, Wheldon’s car launching into the air and smashing into a catch fence designed to prevent injuries to race spectators.

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Wheldon, who had been struggling to land a ride this past IndyCar season despite his string of victories, had started near the back of the pack but was rapidly working his way up through a field of 15 cars moving at speeds approaching 220 mph – fast enough that several drivers had complained of the potential risks prior to the race.

There was, “Not much room for error” on the 1.5 mile track, said driver Wade Cunningham, who was near the front of the pack when the accident occurred on Lap 11.

“It was like a movie scene which they try to make as gnarly as possible,” said Danica Patrick, who was in her last race in the IndyCar series.

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