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Tony George resigns from Speedway, IRL board

January 19, 2010

Anton H. “Tony” George has resigned from the board of directors of Hulman & Co., including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, according to a statement from his mother, Mari Hulman George, the company's chairman.

“As members of his family, we are sorry to see Tony leave,” said Mari Hulman George in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “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."

His resignation removes George from any remaining role in Hulman & Co., IMS, IMS Productions and other affiliated companies.

George continues to be involved in the IRL through his ownership of Vision Racing.

“All of us had hoped that Tony would continue to serve on the board, and we made that clear to him," Hulman George's statement said. "We are disappointed with his decision to step down despite our wishes.”

George was removed as CEO of the family companies on June 30. Jeff Belskus, the former IMS chief financial officer, was named his replacement and has began to overhaul business operations.

The board vacancy will be addressed at a later date, according to Hulman George. In addition to Hulman George, board members include attorney Jack Snyder and George's three sisters: Nancy George, Josie George and Kathi George-Conforti.

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 & Co., 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.”

The Speedway has been plagued in recent years by declining attendance at its two major events: the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.
 
Since Belskus has taken over, more than 40 IMS and IRL employees have been terminated. Belskus also is investigating other business initiatives, including turning the Speedway into a multi-use facility, and outsourcing catering and operations at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort.

George's departure leaves myriad questions as Belskus works to put his stamp on the operation. Some racing sources say his departure shows just how deep the rift is between George and the rest of his family regarding the direction of the company.

There has even been speculation that the board could move to spin off the IRL, fold some of the events at the track, namely the Brickyard 400 or MotoGP motorcycle race, and possibly even consider selling the Speedway. Belskus has stressed several times that the IMS is not for sale and there is no consideration at this time to kill any of its events.

Among the things that rankled Tony George, motorsports sources said, was Belskus' and the board's decision to downsize May's Indy 500-related event schedule.
 

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