Was safety the first concern for Randy Bernard? Or was it money?
After taking over the Indy series in March 2010, Mr. Bernard tried to make Indy racing more exciting, like its more popular cousin, Nascar. The Indy circuit packed more cars into each contest, for instance.
Mr. Bernard also started using side-by-side restarts. The restarts, which occur after the course is slowed by a yellow flag, meant cars were closer together, raising the possibility that their exposed wheels could touch and result in crashes.
In an interview in June with the Globe and Mail newspaper, Mr. Bernard said the change to restarts would mean more “carnage and wrecks,” adding that “danger will be an important element of the sport.”
“I’m sorry if my comments are interpreted this way,” he said in an email Monday. “Danger has been an inherent part of the sport since 1909. I don’t know if what I said was taken out of context or I misspoke, but if you know me, you know where my loyalties lie, and I’m very respectful to the drivers and the sport.”
Before coming to IndyCar, Mr. Bernard had developed a reputation as a
marketing whiz who turned the once-obscure sport of bull-riding into a nationally televised phenomenon. Purses expanded up to $2 million.
By the time he left, Mr. Bernard increased purses for the PBR world finals to $2 million from $1 million, and created bull-riding events shown on major networks including CBS and NBC.
“Now we have guys making over $100,000 a year as a bull rider, which in the
past was unheard of,” said Jack Carnefix, a spokesman for Professional Bull
Mr. Bernard was recruited with a similar mandate to the Indy circuit. To steal fans back from Nascar, he brought the Indy circuit to tracks around the country that hadn’t seen the low-slung cars for more than a decade.