Honestly, I don't know how to react. I mean, this can't be good simply because it indicates a level of uncertainty this sport doesn't need to go along with vanishing TV audience, overtaking free racing, and constant "Danica to N****R" chatter. The timing of this coming in the middle of an IndyCar season is probably the most troubling, but here IT is, in edited form.
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, June 30, 2009 – The Board of Directors of Hulman & Company and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced June 30 that a new management team comprised of veteran IMS executives W. Curtis Brighton and Jeffrey G. Belskus will head the Hulman-George companies effective July 1.I realize some people will be all excited about this, as if their personal grudge against Tony George outweighs the stability of the sport. Others may say this is yet another example of how the sky is falling and the 2013 Indy 500 will most assuredly involve stock cars. Me, I'm still trying to figure out what tangible impact this will have. I can't tell who's in charge of the actual League now, and I'm sure teams and sponsors are sitting in the same boat of ambiguity right now. And that ain't good.
Brighton, currently executive vice president and chief legal counsel, will become president and CEO of Hulman & Company. Belskus, currently executive vice president and chief financial officer for the companies, will become president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
They will replace Tony George, who will no longer serve as president and chief executive officer of the Hulman-George companies but will remain a board member of the Hulman-George companies.
“Our board had asked Tony to structure our executive staff to create efficiencies in our business structure and to concentrate his leadership efforts in the Indy Racing League,” said Mari Hulman George, IMS chairman of the board. “He has decided that with the recent unification of open-wheel racing and the experienced management team IMS has cultivated over the years, now would be the time for him to concentrate on his team ownership of Vision Racing with his family and other personal business interests he and his family share.
“Tony will remain on the Board of Directors of all of our companies, and he will continue to work with the entire board to advance the interests of all of companies.
“Our family and the entire racing community are grateful to Tony for the leadership and direction he has provided since 1990. We are pleased that he will continue to be an important part of the Indy Racing League as a team owner and as a member of our Board of Directors, and we wish him every success.”
What I do know Mr George spent a TON of money trying to invest in what he thought was best for his family's speedway. Many words have been and will continue to be spent on what his motivations and results were, but now that's moot because it looks like he's been given the heave-ho by his family. How ironic that after this all started as a conflict with a racing series formed by team owners that he's now, even after emerging last year as a sort of victor in the open-wheel war, ending up as merely one of them.
Here's some more reaction around the IndyCar blogosphere:
One has to think that Tony George, the man, unburdened by the titles President & CEO, is also feeling a sense of relief tonight.
Much the same way those of us that work in racing sometimes long for the days when we we’re ‘just fans’, when we went to the track ignorant of the insider gossip & news, and just enjoyed the racing, unaware of the ugly underbelly of the industry, it will be interesting to see Tony ease into the fulltime roll of just team owner. - So, here's what I'm thinking...
As Puff Daddy once said, it's all about the Benjamins. That's why Tony George is out as CEO. He'll still be around serving on the board but the move sends a message, the IRL is now about money. - IRL-O-Rama
The other story will be what happens to the Indy Car Series. The future leadership of that entity seems up in the air. Maintaining a healthy Indy Car Series is vital. Most important, however, is IMS. Tony was a remarkable caretaker and took it to spectacular heights. The IRL? Not up to its potential. The one thing recent history has taught is that it is all about Indy, and Indy fans are hoping for the best in this transition. - Defender of the IRL