Tony George not feeling the love

Posted by Iannucci | 7/10/2009 | 4 comments »
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As many of you saw today, Tony George released a statement on the new and improved Vision Racing site that was "in response to the June 30th announcement by the Board of Directors of Hulman & Company". It was was a tersely worded exercise in restraint, bordering on a sterile description

Fortunately your humble host speaks "sterile press release", so allow me to give you a taste of the unsanitized version.

“Nearly 20 years ago, I was asked by my family to represent our business as President and Chief Executive Officer. Since accepting that position, I have served at the pleasure of the board and, in doing so, I enthusiastically agreed to commit myself to stewardship of a great institution. While my service as CEO has now ended, I consider my stewardship to be a life-long appointment."
Translation: My sisters aren't the biggest racing fans in the world so they asked me to take over. And why wouldn't I? I get to be in charge of the biggest, most awesomest motorsports event in the world. Would YOU turn that down? As if.

At a board meeting a little over a month ago, the Board of Directors of Hulman & Co. and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway asked me to propose a management reorganization that would focus my duties exclusively upon the operation, promotion, and development of the Indy Racing League, which I founded in 1994 and have overseen the development of since 1996.
Translation: In the first paragraph this was "my family", but here in the second paragraph where they decide they don't want me near IMS anymore I think I'll just refer to them "the Board". You want business? I'll give you the business.

Don't expect any Christmas cards this year, and don't bother bringing that nasty ambrosia to our Thanksgiving get together either. You think after you kick me out, after I've spent the last decade and a half being blamed for everything wrong with open-wheel racing, that I'm going to put up with your culinary disasters? Survey says "BUZZZZZ"!

At a board meeting last week, I was asked to continue as CEO of the Indy Racing League, reporting to a new President and CEO of IMS. In my view, this would have created an unnecessary bureaucratic layer between the people in the operations of the IRL and the CEO of IMS that had not previously existed. From the perspective of my experience as President and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I am acutely aware that the interests of IndyCar racing as a sport, the IRL as a league, and the most important motorsports race in the world, are mutually dependent and inter-connected, both now and in the future. I did not feel that a subordinate position as “CEO of the IRL” was a management vehicle which would allow me to accomplish the objectives that the family and the board requested me to pursue. I declined that position.
Translation: I don't know what crawled up their collective yahoos, but out of the blue my fam, err, "The Board" decided to give me the boot. They're all like, "We wants to get PAID" and I'm telling them "You're going to get paid" and they're still like "WHEN are we gettin' PAID" and I'm saying "I'm WORKING on it!" What is up?

On top of that they go telling me I'm supposed to run a 13-year-old racing League without having the money from the century-old Speedway. Like you would tell your 13-year-old "sorry, but we've spent too much money on you so you're on your own." Apparently "The Board" forgot how many decades it took to get our magnificent Speedway to the great financial footing it's at today, but it looks like history lessons aren't my problem anymore. I did what I thought was best for all of us, but if they don't like it then so be it. I'm not going to be "CEO of the IRL" just so they can jerk my chain the next time they get in a tizzy.

Screw you guys, I'm going home to my racing team.

(MORE from Vision Racing's Tony George)


  1. AZZO45 // July 10, 2009 10:00 PM  

    Can't go wrong with an Eric Cartman "SCREW YOU GUYS..." montage to end things , eh? :) :) :)

  2. Jennifer Coomer // July 10, 2009 10:07 PM  

    Good work, Jeff. Very good work.

  3. Anonymous // July 11, 2009 12:13 PM  

    TG was certainly never going to be confused with PT Barnum when it came to promotion of the IRL/open wheel racing in America. (And I don't care what the nay sayers think, CART would have been much better left to it's own devices) But at least he was something of a known quantity. Now we have a couple of bean counting/legal desk jockey's, with the sisters Hulman of the apocalyse running the show, or shall we say running it into the ground, ironically this occurs just a year after the unification and right at the precipice of what could be some real competitve change that has been desperately needed for a several years now. This is really not what anyone including the teams needed at this point, more f-ing chaos....

  4. Anonymous // July 11, 2009 8:46 PM  

    Two things come to mind: First, Tony Hulman bought the Speedway with the caveat that he didn't want to pour capital into it year after year. He also was very clear - he was a track owner, the promoter of the 500. He did not want to run a series - in fact, he didn't need a series to hold a successful International Sweepstakes.

    To get this fixed, although complicated by today's economy, the Hulmans need to divest themselves of the IRL and get back to revitalizing the 500. All that support money should be poured into the race purse - up it to $30 million. If Foyt, Fisher and anyone else can't afford to race, that's the way it works. For $30 mil and "open specs", it will all come together.