The president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that he will step down after this weekend’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the second top administrator to depart the speedway in a month.
Joie Chitwood, a longtime Speedway official, became president and chief operating officer of IMS in December 2004. He said he is resigning to take on “new challenges.”
Chitwood, whose last day at IMS will be Aug. 6, will return to his home state of Florida to become vice president of business operations for the International Speedway Corp. in Daytona Beach, Fla.
His departure comes about a month after Tony George was ousted as president and CEO of the IndyCar Series. George, who had been IMS president for 20 years and formed the IRL in 1994, was removed amid concerns among board members about his spending on upgrades at the Speedway.
George had spent hundreds of millions or dollars in the past 13 years on track renovations and to help the IRL, originally founded as an oval track-based rival to the open-wheel CART series.
The Hulman-George family has run IMS, home of the Indianapolis 500, for six decades and also owns the IRL and Clabber Girl, a baking-powder company based in Terre Haute.
Jeff Belskus, the president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., said in a statement that Chitwood’s departure is a “disappointment.”
Belskus, a longtime IMS executive who was part of a new management team that stepped in after George’s departure, will assume the daily responsibilities of managing the Speedway. He praised Chitwood’s time with IMS. He said it has not been decided whether Chitwood will be replaced.
“With his history in the sport combined with his business acumen, Joie was well-suited for the role of president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we appreciate how he has represented IMS. We wish him all the best,” Belskus said.
Chitwood was one of the Indy Racing League’s first staff members and his family has connections to the Speedway dating to the late 1930s, when his grandfather began competing in the Indianapolis 500.
“I had a lifetime of memories for this place before joining the company in 1996,” Chitwood said in a statement.