IndyCar – Tony George Completes Separation From IMS

Mari Hulman George today announced that Tony Hulman George has resigned his position on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for Hulman and Company, completing the separation that was started earlier this year.

The remaining board of directors is comprised of Tony’s mother Mari Hulman George, Tony’s sisters Nancy George, Josie George, Kathi George-Conforti and family attorney Jack Snyder.

Tony previously served as chairman of the board and president of the IRL, IMS and Hulman and Company, but back in June the remainder of the board became concerned that he was spending too much money keeping the IRL afloat in treacherous financial times and removed him from his position as board chairman and president of IMS, offering him the chance to remain as president of the IRL under Jeff Belskus, someone that Tony hired. Tony did not accept that position.

Since the events of past June, Tony has put his house in Indianapolis up for sale. This was downplayed as downsizing due to daughter Lauren heading off to Notre Dame.

With his resignation from the board, Tony’s only remaining involvement with the IndyCar series is with his team Vision Racing and with his ownership stake in Delta Wing LLC. Vision is clearly on poor financial footing after loosing Menards as their primary sponsor. Tony has told team members that they may only make a few races this season and has told them that they should probably explore other employment options.

The Delta Wing LLC involvement is less clear at this time. Tony is among several part owners of this new chassis development company, but at this time there is no clear indication whether the IRL will use this proposed Delta Wing concept, or use the Dallara option for 2012.

While the press release from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is all sunshine and lolipops, there is a clear underlying statement that the company is doing just fine without Tony. Mari Hulman George said:

“Our company is healthy and is weathering the economic recession well. Jeff Belskus, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Curt Brighton, president and CEO of Hulman and Company, are both doing excellent jobs in guiding our companies through this difficult time. Many hard decisions have been made, and now our companies are well positioned for the future.”

While this may be the case, one has to wonder what is going on with Tony. Theories are already in abundant supply across the IndyCar web-o-sphere, and one that is gaining adherents is that Tony is preparing to buy the Indy Racing League with involvement from John Menard. This would separate IMS and the IRL into completely different money pots and would make the sisters and mom happier that their cash would no longer be going down the IRL toilet bowl. It would allow for the IRL to still be held in the family (somewhat). Nevermind the fact that this would require lots of cash that Tony does not seem to have, nor does he seem able to raise given the financial state of vision racing.

But it is worth considering that John Menard has a very capable engine shop that he might want to apply to IndyCar racing. Further, another partner in the Delta Wing group, Kevin Kalkhoven is involved in a similar company called Cosworth (perhaps you have heard of them). Tony is involved in the Delta Wing concept, which is being trumpeted as a return to a limited open specification. Mix all of that up and you might just have a group of guys who would want to see Indy open up their specifications across the board and return to some of the glory days of Indy style racing.

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4 Thoughts to “IndyCar – Tony George Completes Separation From IMS

  1. Theories are already in abundant supply across the IndyCar web-o-sphere, and one that is gaining adherents is that Tony is preparing to buy the Indy Racing League with involvement from John Menard.

    This is EXACTLY what I thought first when I heard the news. To be honest, this really doesn’t surprise me in the least, and it may be the first step toward creating a owner-operated series with Tony George as a team owner of Vision Racing along with the rest of the Delta Wing crew. Wonder how the sisters would react to that?

  2. The sisters would love it because they would no longer be shelling out a variable sum of money to prop up the IRL, just a fixed cost for the Indy 500 sanctioning fee.

    If true, this would be quite the reversal on Tony’s part.

    rev 1 – Oval racing with US drivers who came up through grassroots
    rev 2 – oooohhh Honda and Toyota! Shiny.
    rev 3 – road/street races are ok
    rev 4 – push to pass, soft tires…..
    rev 5 – if we got a whole bunch of owners together, we could take over……

    (sounds familiar)

    But it has some merit.

  3. Savage Henry

    I like your point-of-view on this better thant he doom-and-gloomers. If what you are saying is correct (and I hope it is) then this might not all be about the Hulman-George family in a state of panic threatening the health of IMS and the IICS. Perhaps instead this was a plan that was hatched prior to last May and represents a win-win for all involved. The Hulman-George clan doesn’t have to worry about the IICS draining the IMS and family coffers anymore while TG and the other investors take a chance on remaking the IICS to make it more popular and competitive.

    Wishful thinking? Probably.

  4. Maybe wishful thinking, but stranger things have certainly happened Savage.

    What doesn’t make sense with the possible scenario of TG buying the IRL:
    1. Why is TG involved with Delta Wing, but the IRL brass continues to talk down about the concept. Why is Honda going forward with a 575HP V6 naturally aspirated stressed engine, when the Delta Wing concept is for a 325HP turbo inline 4 nonstressed?
    2. Why this grand charade which has only looked like bad blood and bitter infighting among the idle rich George sisters, with momma taking sides?

    In the long run, I think the story is that Tony is ticked that his sisters wanted him out at IMS, so he gave up all responsibility with IMS, IRL and Hulman & Co. and is just sitting back letting the money pile up in his trust fund.

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