SBJ/20090727/This Week's News

Joie Chitwood adds to IMS turnover, leaves company to join International Speedway

The only constant at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past month has been change, and that continued last week when President and COO Joie Chitwood III left IMS to join International Speedway Corp. as vice president of business operations.

The 40-year-old Chitwood, who has been at IMS since 2002 and formerly ran Chicagoland Speedway, will start at ISC on Aug. 10 and report to Roger VanDerSnick, the company’s COO.

Chitwood is credited with bringing MotoGP motorcycle racing to the speedway and planning IMS’s centennial celebration, a three-year effort that will culminate in 2011 with the track’s official 100-year anniversary.

Chitwood

Chitwood said his decision was based on moving back to Florida, where he attended the University of Florida as an undergraduate and earned a master’s at South Florida. The recent turmoil at IMS, which involved the removal of Tony George as the track’s CEO, did not play a role in the decision.

“It was not a factor,” Chitwood said. “I had already started thinking what’s next for me.”

Jeff Belskus, who was named the speedway’s president and CEO last week, said Chitwood’s position would not be filled immediately.

Plans for IMS’s centennial will be handed off to Chris Schwartz, the speedway’s vice president of marketing, and Mel Harder, senior vice president of operations.

The speedway, under Chitwood’s guidance, has been in the midst of a three-year run-up plan that includes the Concours d’Elegance, a vintage car show, and other events in 2010.

“We’ve got a great plan in place,” Chitwood said. “Chris and Mel have been working on this throughout the process, and I expect things to continue smoothly.”

A recipient of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily’s Forty Under 40 award, Chitwood is taking over the role previously held by Grant Lynch, who will become chairman of Talladega Superspeedway and vice president of ISC’s strategic projects.

— Michael Smith

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