Vaizer To Become First Woman To Take Top Medical Role
Dr. Geoffrey Billows announced during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers’ meeting Friday, July 15 at the Honda Indy Toronto that he will step down as director of medical services for INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the 2022 season.
Dr. Julia Vaizer will succeed Billows as the director of medical services for INDYCAR and IMS, becoming the first female medical chief in the history of the sanctioning body and the track. Vaizer, who has served as the assistant medical director for INDYCAR and IMS since 2021, also served as acting medical director when Billows was on a short medical leave of absence earlier this spring.
Billows plans to continue contributing to INDYCAR and IMS medical services in a part-time capacity starting in 2023. He has undergone treatment for parotid salivary cancer since November 2020.
“It’s no secret that the last 20 months have been quite challenging for me,” Billows said. “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 began working at IMS during his residency in 1993, volunteering at the IU Health Emergency Medical Center in the infield during race events. He served as an AMR Safety Team physician and deputy medical director and became IMS director of medical services in 2006. Billows assumed the role of INDYCAR director of medical services in 2016.
Besides providing medical care to drivers and spectators at IMS and on INDYCAR race weekends, Billows worked tirelessly with INDYCAR officials and the AMR Safety Team to enhance driver safety in motorsports, becoming a respected global leader in the field.
Throughout his career with IMS and INDYCAR, Billows also served an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
“Dr. Billows has been an integral part of INDYCAR’s success both on and off the track,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “His guidance and expertise have been tremendous assets to the series, the drivers and all our stakeholders. We are excited for him to spend more time with his family and grateful that we’ll still get to see him around the racetrack.
“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. 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.”
Said IMS President J. Douglas Boles: “There aren’t enough words to express our full sense of gratitude and respect for Dr. Billows and his service to our racing community. We’re so appreciative of his contributions and so glad we’ll still see him at the IU Health Infield Care Center during the Month of May and more. We also know Dr. Vaizer is extremely well prepared for this new role and congratulate her on this exciting opportunity.”
Vaizer has worked under Billows with the AMR Safety Team since 2020 and became the first person to complete the IU School of Medicine Motorsports Fellowship in July 2021. She has been associated with motorsports medicine since 2017 and began her involvement with INDYCAR and IMS the following year while attending a motorsports medicine elective training program. Vaizer also serves as an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at the IU School of Medicine and as the assistant medical director for IU Health LifeLine.
She received her undergraduate degree in 2011 from the University of Florida and received her medical degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida. She completed her emergency residency training at Detroit Receiving Hospital in 2019 and completed a dual EMS/motorsports medicine fellowship at IU School of Medicine in 2021.
“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 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.”
Said Billows: “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 to 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.”