Former IndyCar CEO Bernard named head of RFD-TV

JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer Published:

By Jenna Fryer | Associated Press

Randy Bernard is returning to his roots after three years with IndyCar, accepting a job as CEO of cable channel RFD-TV.

Rural Media Group announced the hiring Friday, and Bernard was already in Las Vegas for meetings at the National Rodeo Finals. He spent 15 years with the Professional Bull Riders organization before joining IndyCar as CEO in 2010.

Bernard met with RMG founder Patrick Gottsch at company headquarters in Omaha, Neb., last week and its offices in Nashville before accepting the job.

"The rural lifestyle has always been an important part of my culture and I am excited for the opportunity Patrick has given me with RFD-TV and RURAL TV," he said. "The solid foundation, profitable operations, and talented management team in place at RMG is very attractive to me. This entity has unlimited upside, and I look forward to contributing and growing this business to its full potential."

Bernard's time with IndyCar came to an end Oct. 28 when he was voted out in an emergency meeting of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors. His ouster was characterized as a "mutual separation" and IndyCar management has never given a solid explanation as to why fan favorite Bernard was fired.

He has not commented publicly on his split with IndyCar.

RFD-TV was launched in 2000 as a lifestyle network with programming emphasizing agriculture, country music and entertainment. Rural Media launched sibling network Rural TV in February and acquired FamilyNet in September. The three networks together are distributed to over 61 million homes worldwide.

"Randy is absolutely the right person, at the right time, to lead our new management team and take this venture to a whole new level, and beyond," said Gottsch. "I've had the good fortune of knowing Randy for several years now, and I admire his vision, creativity, and work ethic, which will serve RMG well as we strive to better serve rural America, our viewers, and this network's sponsors and advertisers."

Forrest Lucas eager to expand IndyCar reach

INDIANAPOLIS -- The co-founder of Lucas Oil says he was pleased to see American Ryan Hunter-Reay win the IndyCar title last year, and believes the series needs successful American drivers in order to grow.

Forrest Lucas spoke during the "Lunch with Lucas" program during the International Motorsports Industry Show on Friday. Plans were announced to launch Lucas Oil Network, an Internet network that will offer a heavy dose of racing programming beginning next June.

Lucas Oil has the naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts' football stadium. Lucas has a long history of involvement in racing, from sponsoring race teams and building tracks to sponsoring races and creating racing television programming.

"I think it's very important that we have American names out there again," Lucas said. "We still need to have a little Formula One and some of that atmosphere to it, but it needs to be an American company for people here to root for it because people are watching to see their guy win."

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