IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Motorsports and Auto Racing and Sports Business

George reportedly submits offer to buy IndyCar

October 12, 2012

A group led by Tony George submitted an offer to Hulman & Co. this week to buy the IndyCar open-wheel race circuit, Sports Business Journal reported on Friday.

As reported by IBJ Oct. 1, George’s investor group is said to include several team owners who compete in the series, including motorsports heavyweights Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, Kevin Kalkhoven and Michael Andretti. Zak Brown, owner of Zionsville-based Just Marketing International, a motorsports marketing agency, also is reported to be part of the investor group.

Owners of Hulman & Co. and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which controls the IndyCar Series, refused today to confirm or deny that an offer was received and repeated that they have no interest in selling the series.

Sports Business Journal motorsports reporter Tripp Mickle said a reliable source told him that George has hired law firm Faegre Baker Daniels to help study the open-wheel race series’ financials and put together a proposal.

Sources told IBJ George’s offer is a seven-figure cash proposal to take over management and assume future losses for the series.

The IndyCar Series has lost money every year since it was founded in 1996 by George. Sources told IBJ for an Oct. 8 story that while the annual loss has decreased over the last two years, it was $7 million for the 2012 season.

George, who was formerly head of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, led a deal in 2008 to consolidate open-wheel racing after IndyCar Series' 12-year split with rival CART.

George resigned under pressure in 2009 after butting heads with his three sisters and mother, who led the board that oversaw the race series and Speedway.

The board in 2009 replaced George with Jeff Belskus as CEO of the Speedway. That same year, board members offered to let George remain as IndyCar CEO, but he declined. George also resigned from the board overseeing the track and series. He was replaced as IndyCar Series CEO by Randy Bernard.

In 2011, George came back on the board overseeing the series and Speedway.

The series recently completed a season plagued by declining television ratings and tepid live attendance. Several team owners became angry with Bernard over escalating prices for parts to the new chassis he introduced this year and other series management issues.

Undaunted, Bernard earlier this month announced a 16-event, 19-race IndyCar schedule for 2013.

One source inside the series told IBJ this week that “Bernard is hanging by a thread. A very thin thread.”

 

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