IndyCar Series owners have fired CEO Randy Bernard, sources familiar with the situation told IBJ on Friday afternoon.
IndyCar board members and Bernard are currently negotiating a settlement package, sources said.
However, an official for the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway denied that Bernard has been fired.
“Randy has not been terminated and his employment status is the same as it was last week and last month,” said IMS spokesman Doug Boles. “At this point, Randy is not fired. That is the case at the moment and in the future.”
According to one source, IndyCar officials had hoped to keep the firing, which occurred Thursday, under wraps for two weeks, when they hope to have a contingency plan in place to operate without Bernard.
“The [IndyCar Series] is a bit disjointed right now,” the source told IBJ on Friday. “There’s no way they can keep this secret.”
Sources said IndyCar Series board members became upset when the open-wheel series lost between $7 million and $8 million this year.
Bernard, a source said, told board members the series would be break even in 2012 and in the black in 2013.
“[Board members] feel Randy is a bit of a spender,” one source told IBJ. “They don’t want Randy digging any deeper of a hole.”
Bernard, who was formerly the head of the Pro Bull Riding circuit, was hired in 2010 on a five-year contract to replace Tony George.
The IndyCar Series is owned by the Hulman-George family, which also owns the Speedway.
George, who was formerly head of the IndyCar Series and IMS, led a deal in 2008 to consolidate open-wheel racing after the IndyCar Series' 12-year split with rival CART. He resigned under pressure from the IRL in 2009 after butting heads with his three sisters and mother, who led the board that oversaw the race series and Speedway.
George also resigned Oct. 19 from the Hulman & Co. board of directors, citing a conflict of interest because of a recent attempt to reacquire the series.
A source said Bernard's firing was not related to George's effort to buy the open-wheel circuit.