IndyCar names Dr. Julia Vaizer as its first female medical director starting in 2023

IndyCar Vaizer medical director

Julia Vaizer, an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, will become the first female medical chief for IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway when she takes over next season.

Dr. Vaizer has spent the past year assisting Dr. Geoffrey Billows, the series’ longtime medical director, who announced during the driver’s meeting before Sunday’s race in Toronto that he will be stepping down.

Billows has been undergoing treatment for parotid salivary cancer since November 2020 and wants to spend more time with his family. He plans to help Vaizer in a part-time capacity as he continues treatment.

“Dr. Billows and Dr. Vaizer have been working very closely together over the last few years, so we know this will be a seamless transition,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles. “We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Vaizer as she trailblazes into her new leadership position as IndyCar’s first female medical director.”

Vaizer graduated from the University of Florida in 2011 and earned her medical degree from the University of Central Florida in 2016. She did emergency residency training at Detroit Receiving Hospital in 2019 and became the first graduate of the IU School of Medicine’s motorsports fellowship in July 2021.

She began her work with IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2018 during an elective training program.

“Dr. Billows has been a friend, a mentor, a teacher and like family to me,” Vaizer said. “It’s a huge honor to be chosen to carry on his legacy. It fills me with inspiration. I know I will work really hard to continue doing what he established as one of the most successful medical teams in the world of motorsports. I cannot wait for the next chapter and see how we can continue to improve the field of motorsports medicine for the next generation to come.”

Billow began his career at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his residency in 1993, when he would volunteer at the IU Health Emergency Medical Center in the infield during race weeks. He later served as an IndyCar team physician and rose to the speedway’s medical director in 2006; he added the job of IndyCar’s medical director in 2016.

All the while, Billows has served as an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the IU School of Medicine.

“It’s no secret the last 20 months have been quite challenging for me,” he said. “I thought, `I should enjoy whatever time I have left.’ But I’m staying on so I can help part time because I enjoy it so much. The opportunity to work with IndyCar and IMS has been an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s been a career unlike none other. It’s quite rewarding. It not only gives me a chance to help take care of the drivers but to also have the chance to promote safety in the motorsports industry.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”