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.”