UPDATE: Tony George Ousted?

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Robin Miller is reporting that Tony George has been ousted as CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In a board meeting Tuesday night, George was supposedly voted out by a board composed of mostly family members and a couple of attorneys; according to Miller.

Robin Miller is usually right on most things of this magnitude, although The Indianapolis Star reports that Tony George and his mother Mari Hulman George are denying the story. If it’s true, my initial reaction is one of joy, since I personally think that Tony George did more damage to open-wheel racing than any other single person in history. However, there is another side of me that sees more turmoil ahead in open-wheel racing, just as things were starting to gain momentum after the unification with Champ Car.

IndyCar racing doesn’t need this. Not right now. Power struggles amongst wealthy families are usually long and drawn out, and the results are rarely pretty. There are massive egos at play here and Tony George is known to have one of the biggest of all. No one in the public eye really knows what the entire Hulman-George empire is worth, but the root of the family squabble is apparently about how much money Tony George has spent over the last fifteen years. Miller estimates it to be in the range of $600 million.

We racing fans have benefited from a lot of this money. The Speedway is considered to be the most advanced and well-maintained racing facility on the planet. Tony George has followed the principal of his grandfather, Tony Hulman, by reinvesting all profits back into the facility. The track received a major facelift in 2000 when the Formula One road course was opened. A new Pagoda, new pit road suites, and new seating were all part of the renovation. In this regard, Tony George has done an admirable job as successor to his grandfather and has proven to be a worthy caretaker to the one hundred year-old facility…without taking a cent of taxpayer money.

Tony George will continue as CEO of the Indy Racing League, the league which he founded in 1994 as an alternative to CART. No successor has been named or hired, which tells me that this coup was carried out without a whole lot of forethought.

Like Tony George or hate him, you have to admit that he has a passion for racing and he truly loves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Every move he has made has been what he considered in the best interest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I disagreed with MANY of his decisions and felt a lot of them were self-serving. But as much as we feel the Speedway belongs to all of us who cherish it, it ultimately remains the property of the Hulman-George family. With us being one-third of the way through the Centennial Era, I hope they have a plan in place that will allow the Speedway to thrive for the next hundred years.

Read Robin Miller’s article here.

George Phillips

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