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Breaking Barriers: Doctor setting the example for women in medicine and motorsports

Dr Julia Vaizer
Posted at 8:31 AM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 21:30:36-04

SPEEDWAY — To Dr. Julia Vaizer, there are two sides to her on race day.

There’s a Julia Vaizer the race-car fan, she said “who is incredibly excited and super passionate about our drivers’ breaking records.”

Then there’s Julia Vaizer, the doctor, she said, “who wants to make sure that everything that happens on that track is as safe for them as possible.”

You see, her job combines both of her passions, which are motorsports and medicine.

Now she’s the first female in an acting medical director position with IndyCar.

Her title is assistant medical director for I.M.S and INDYCAR. So, she’ll oversee of the medical services at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s a day with lots of patients. The Speedway turns into the second-largest city in Indiana.

Vaizer and her team take care of the drivers, their families, and the crowd at IMS.

“This is the best part of the job, is the actual patient care that we value very much,” Vaizer said.

Her love of patient care and motorsports comes from her favorite past-time, which includes riding motorcycles, in college.

Vaizer excelled in her studies and became the first person to complete the IU School of Medicine Motorsports Fellowship. It’s the only fellowship of its kind in the world.

WRTV asked “how was that?” Vaizer said, “oh my God, it was the best year of my life!”

She got hands-on experience at IMS. Responding to race car drivers that crash on the course.

“These guys, they hit walls routinely going over 200 miles an hour, and most of the time they walk away with nothing,” she said.

As a female in a male-dominated sport, Vaizer credits the opportunities to her mentor, Dr. Geoffrey Billows.

“Not for a second he made me feel like I didn’t belong," she said. “The reason why I think I can take this on, is because anytime I call him, he says, 'oh you’ve got this.' Absolutely you’ve got this.”

Vaizer said their introduction was her leap of faith. She remembers telling Billows, “I had no idea what to say. So, I just shook his hand and said 'Hi my name is Julia Vaizer, and my dream is to start a motorsport medicine fellowship' and he looked at me and said, 'Me too.'”

That dream turned into reality.

“And I now get to train up the future generation of motorsports medicine physicians and show them my excitement, my passion. And they all come in super excited and passionate as well,” Vaizer said.

It’s a passion that’s paying it forward, that sends a message to other females who want to break barriers in the sports medicine world.

“You’re never alone, you’re surrounded by allies, mentors and friends who are rooting for you and when you’re loud about your passions, it will come through,” Vaizer said. “Be loud about your passion, stand up strong and say it out loud. None of this is made in a vacuum.”

She said the next step of her future is continuing Billow’s good work once he decides to retire. That will put her in charge as the full-time director for IMS and INDYCAR.