More important, he dramatically improved the product.
Bernard this year introduced the new car and brought in multiple engine manufacturers. He cleaned up the grid last year with harsh league scrutiny on Milka Duno, who had sponsorship to get a ride but was not skilled enough to be on the track, and that in part contributed to parity this season throughout the field.
Bernard also removed Brian Barnhart from his longtime role as head of race control following a controversial 2011 season in which it was clear Barnhart had lost the trust of the paddock. He also developed the "Road to Indy" ladder system, a development program meant to keep young drivers in IndyCar.
This season, Bernard was able to save Milwaukee from dropping off the IndyCar schedule — albeit in a sweetheart deal for first-time promoter Michael Andretti — but Bernard also got Andretti to step in and rescue the endangered Labor Day weekend event at Baltimore. He also brought IndyCar back to Fontana, Calif., this season for the first time since 2005, and announced last month that IndyCar will race in 2013 at Pocono after a 23-year absence.
Bernard announced the return of the "The Triple Crown" promotion, an IndyCar tradition last done in 1989, the last time the series visited Pocono. He's also been in talks with Phoenix and Michigan, two other traditional IndyCar tracks, about returning to the series for the 2014 season.
Although he received mixed reviews for his 2013 schedule announced earlier this month, few understood his reasoning for creating doubleheaders or a long summer-stretch of racing. Saddled with a tough television package he inherited from George, Bernard strung together six consecutive weeks of racing through the summer to get five dates on ABC, including a prime-time Saturday night event at Texas Motor Speedway.
And because IndyCar has so little shoulder programming and cable partner NBC Sports does not often air qualifying live, Bernard viewed doubleheaders as a way to get the series on television more often.
Alas, none of his gains were ever lauded the way his missteps were jeered.
The cancellation of an August race in China was a reported $7 million hit to his budget — one of the reasons speculated he fell out of favor with the board. And Bernard's desire for engine competition led him to ignore all red flags and welcome Lotus into to the series. The manufacturer was an embarrassing disaster from start to finish.
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