Dr Julia Vaizer will become the first female director of medical services for IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 2023 after the long-serving Dr Geoffrey Billows steps down at the end of the season.
Billows has become somewhat of a legend in the IndyCar paddock and is credited by drivers for his work in keeping them safe and in response to serious accidents.
He first began work at IMS in 1993, and has served as the director of medical services since 2016.
Vaizer has been his assistant in that role since 2021, and took over the job in an acting capacity when Billows had time away in the spring this year as part of his battle with parotid salivary cancer.
“It’s no secret that the last 20 months have been quite challenging for me,” said Billows, pictured below with Vaizer.
“After a lot of consideration and discussion with my wife, I have decided to retire at the end of this season.
“This is something I plan to battle and live for many years, and 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.
“I think 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.”
Billows made the news clear during the drivers’ briefing in Toronto and has already been credited by those that work with him.
IndyCar president Jay Frye said Billows’ “guidance and expertise have been tremendous assets to the series, the drivers and all our stakeholders” and IMS resident Doug Boles added “there aren’t enough words to express our full sense of gratitude and respect for Dr Billows and his service to our racing community”.
Not only has Billows taken care of drivers at the track but he has campaigned and advised tirelessly on developing various IndyCar protocols to ensure the safety of everybody at IndyCar and IMS events.
Because of that, Vaizer has big shoes to fill but is well qualified for the role. As well as completing various college degrees she became the first person to complete the IU (Indianapolis hospital_ School of Medicine Motorsports Fellowship.
“Dr Billows has been a friend, a mentor, a teacher and like family to me,” Vaizer said.
“There are a lot of emotions of excitement for him to take a new stage in his life and spend more time with his family. It’s wonderful that he’s going to stay on as an IndyCar physician.
“It’s a huge honour 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.”
Vaizer has served on IndyCar’s AMR Safety Team, which works with the series and attends every race, and is pictured below with colleague Dr Debra Rusk at the Texas event earlier this year.
Billows added: “Dr Vaizer is not only a very skilled and talented emergency medicine physician but a gifted educator.
“She’s the only physician on the face of this planet who has completed a formal, post-graduate, university-based motorsports medicine fellowship.
“I have 100% confidence in turning the position of medical director over to her.”