Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

November 17, 2010

The Next Generation of Leadership/Ownership at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:09 pm

Perhaps I am being a nervous nelly, but it is easy to worry about who will own and run the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the current crop of Hulman descendents begin dying off. The worry level is not high now because the remaining family members who are still there seem to get it for the most part. Not as much as many would like, but their hearts are in the right place. When one looks at the family it is natural to be concerned, especially when realizing they control the greatest race course in the world.

For my money, another Tony Hulman needs to emerge. The generation known as ‘the great grandchildren’ is a diverse group with the mixed genes of both Hulmans and racers. Each one has begun contributing in their own ways.

As a part time resident of Speedway I see many of the great things that family does for the community. They have done the same thing for decades. With respect to the Speedway, however, all things are measured against Tony Hulman, who consistently combined the perfect balance of putting in and taking out. At present the equation seems more tilted toward taking out. Tony George was criticized for tilting the other direction way too often. It is a tough balance, but one that is needed for the place to continue to strive through generations.

My personal feeling for years has been that the closest reincarnation of Tony Hulman is Tony George, at least in terms of Speedway caretaking. His biggest problem, perception, is beyond his control. Those who step back and look objectively at the improvements to IMS during his reign cannot help but be impressed. His caretaking of the place will always, unfortunately, be overshadowed by his creation of the Indy Racing League. That is a shame because most people who criticize Mr. George, often in vulgar ways, are usually speaking with emotion and not brains.

The arrogance of those who worked for years for Tony’s ouster remains self destructive. For proof one need look no further than the failure, twice, of the organization whose mutinous, self-interested behavior began in 1979. It is the exact same type of arrogance that followed Tony’s investment of millions of dollars for a state of the art F-1 facility that drew the largest crowds in history for that branch of the sport. IMS and real racing fans spent the next eight years being regularly and crudely shat upon by Formula 1 and many of its more vile fans every single year. Then in a final act of attempted rape, the vacuous white headed midget in charge wanted to raise the vig to levels that went laughably beyond ridiculous.

The Indy Racing League situation has now stabilized without Tony. That organization is being led very effectively by Randy Bernard as a part of the IMS family. IMS is stable, but long term vision seems lacking. Jeff Belskus seems great at counting beans and the family seems content with not spending much money.

Two hopes keep reoccurring. First, the hope they do not sell to an entity clearly unqualified to steward IMS in its second century. ISC and SMI fall into that category. Any current race team owner falls into that category. Anyone associated with Formula 1 or NASCAR falls into that category. Second, that somehow the family sees fit, in time, to reintroduce Tony George as the IMS President. Tony ‘gets it’ more clearly (at least from an outside view looking in) than anyone else in the family. Most of us who understand and respect IMS know for certain that IMS is more of a destiny for him than European car wax. He, ideally in tandem with someone like a Jeff Belskus, would make a great tutor for the next generation.

Here’s hoping some way to make that happen is accommodated before a lot of time passes.



  1. Unfortunately, whether or not Tony ‘gets it’ is irrelevant, as is what he did for the Speedway during his tenure as President. Rightly or wrongly, TG will forever be defined by the role he played in the creation of the IRL, the subsequent CART boycott/split in AOWR, and the decline in popularity of the sport that followed. To say he’s a polarizing figure might be the understatement of the century. To his supporters he acted in the best interests of the Speedway and racing; they place the blame solely on the greed and stupidity of CART owners, and paint TG as the defender of the tradition and history of open wheel racing. To his detractors, it was his desire for control of OWR and the creation of the IRL (along with 25/8) that was the driving force behind the split; they look back to the popularity of CART in 1994, weigh it against the IRL in 2010, and find the current series wanting in comparison. They look at ride buyers, sparse grandstands, and abysmal TV ratings and blame TG. And they always will.

    Regardless of Tony’s successes with the Speedway itself, he can’t go home again. No matter what side of it you fell/fall on, Tony George will forever be associated with the split. And until BOTH sides can get past that, that association will prevent him from coming back. Like it or not, the day he comes back, at least right now, is the day the refighting of the politics of 1995 begins in earnest. And that can only hurt the Speedway and the sport.

    Editor’s Note: This offering is not really about cart/IRL or ‘split’ politics…it is about IMS, which transcends cart or IRL. Without IMS, there is no cart (twice) or IRL. My point is that Tony is the perfect steward for IMS. If cart enthusiasts get their panties in a wad, that is distinctly their problem to overcome.

    Comment by Steve Kornya — November 17, 2010 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  2. Hang on Defender, your post will surely bring out the TG haters. But, you are right, TG gets it. He has understood from the beginning that IMS is the crown jewel of American racing, and one of the crown jewels of racing in the world.

    I hope we are not witnessing the old story of the three generations. The first generation makes the fortune, the second generation consolidates it, the third generation spends it.

    My great fear is that IMS will turn into a version of Daytona, the epitome of that other series. You know, complete with chicken bones everywhere, wooden bleachers, repaved exactly TWICE in 51 years.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — November 17, 2010 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  3. I expect Tony’s position will be with the Speedway. I also think his children will make good caretakers of the IMS. It’s good to talk about this and address it because the City of Speedway (Indy), the State of Indiana, and racings fans have piece in this.

    To sell the IMS to an undeserving organization would not be in the best interest of those mentioned above. It is important that all of them see blogs like this to wake the up to the issue, keeping it from happening. However, I’m not sure Defender, but if you check, the deed prohibits the sale of the Speedway.

    Comment by M. Miller — November 18, 2010 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  4. you can say your “post” isn’t about the split, however it is, because any mention of the silver spooned inheritor will be forever linked to the words, split, destruction and failure. your myopic cult like idolotry of one man, who just so happened to steer the titanic ship full steam ahead into the iceberg ridden racing sea, caused the split and detroyed AOWR as we once knew it. Despite your ignorant intentions to ignore, that factoid of extreme relevance cannot be denied.

    to think that anything other than a ride on a pony and then a subsequent ride on a stablehand & part time racer, connects toney gorge to Anton Hulman, and therefore any link to greatness, is quite frankly an absurd reality stretch that is insulting to Mr. Hulman. had Mr. Cloutier only taken a disciplinary backhand to young toney and spanked him and properly and locked him down in an extended timeout, we would not be suffering the bastardization of a once fine racing landscape. (Joe could have hidden him in the ticket department as an admin assistant selling tickets to a sold out race or sumfin equally comensurate with toney’s skillset)

    I’m sure the george sisters are happy that you seemingly approve of their new leadership – for the time being. narcissism reigns supreme in these parts and you do a splendid job of being the self appointed king of your tiny nation. keep up the work. it allows comic fodder for those of us who are reality based and ethically rooted. we understand that what goes around comes around, and in a series of fewer and fewer roundy rounds, this last round is still gonna come around.

    smoke and mirrors usually tuns out to be just that, smoke and mirrors.
    once the smoke clears and the mirrors are cleansed of their filth. oh looky….it’s defender!


    Editor’s Note: On a personal note, I wish the five or six of these remaining morally abhorrent sociopaths would either kill themselves or die of some other unfortunate cause. The racing world, and indeed the world at large, would be a much better place without such anonymous, bitter little cowards.

    Comment by Mr. Clean — November 18, 2010 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  5. I think bernie eccelstone should take that sh!te hole under his control.

    Editor’s Note: Another cartourettes case study.

    Comment by nosh pitt — November 19, 2010 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  6. I for one pray for the day that Tony George returns. Tony George was visionary enough to see the real problem plaguing open wheel racing and thus threatening IMS. Her recognized that the 500 had lost around 10 million house holds of TV viewers over the previous 25 years. He recognized the unstoppable force in motorsports known as NASCAR and was wise enough to work with it instead of against it. His grandfather could tell NASCAR to take a hike because he was working from a position of power. Tony realized that there was a power shift and NASCAR now had the upper hand. At one time Tony was in charge of the top three single day sporting crowds in the world.

    Comment by Rick Johnson — October 22, 2012 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

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