Huge news from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Tony George has severed all connections with the Speedway and his family’s businesses.
The announcement this afternoon raises doubts about the future of the Hulman family's involvement in the Indianapolis Speedway post-2011, which would be the 100th anniversary of the Speedway's first Indy 500.
The family's patriarch, the late Terre Haute, Ind., businessman Anton Hulman Jr., rescued the facility from near-ruin in the mid-1940s and, by the time of his death in 1977, had built it into the world's greatest permanent racing complex.
Tony George had continued in the tradition of his grandfather, improving the facility and growing the track's business to include NASCAR and Formula One in addition to Indy cars.
His resignation also raises questions about the Speedway's ongoing involvement and support of IndyCar, formerly called the Indy Racing League.
Tony George, Hulman's grandson and the son of the late Indy car driver Elmer George, was removed from his position as head of the Speedway as well as Hulman and Co., which manufactures much of the baking powder in North America, shortly after the running of last year's Indy 500.
Although seen as the temporary victim of a family feud (the board of directors included his mother, three sisters and the family lawyer, in addition to him), seasoned observers always believed that George would someday take over as chairman of the board from his mother and his resignation today comes as a shock.
On the other hand, George could also be positioning himself to partner with another, or others, to buy the Speedway if or when it is put up for sale.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Board of Directors of Hulman & Company and affiliated companies, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has received the resignation of Anton H. “Tony” George from the board of directors effective immediately, according to Mari Hulman George, chairman.
“As members of his family, we are sorry to see Tony leave,” said Mrs. George. “We are grateful for his service to our company as a board member and of course for formerly serving as CEO and president of our companies. I speak for our whole family in wishing him well.
“All of us had hoped that Tony would continue to serve on the board, and we made that clear to him. We are disappointed with his decision to step down despite our wishes.”
His resignation removes George from any remaining role in Hulman & Company, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League, IMS Productions and other affiliated companies. His term as CEO of the family companies ended June 30, 2009. He continues to be involved in racing through his ownership of Vision Racing, a competitor in the IZOD IndyCar Series of the Indy Racing League.
The board vacancy will be addressed at a later date. In addition to Mari Hulman George, board members include Nancy George, Josie George, Kathi George-Conforti and Jack Snyder.
Mari Hulman George said she is very pleased with the direction of the company and the progress that has been made during the last six months.
“Our company is healthy and is weathering the economic recession well,” she said. “Jeff Belskus, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Curt Brighton, president and CEO of Hulman & 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.”