IndyCar denies getting offer from George to buy series

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The parent companies of the IndyCar Series are denying a report from a national sports business publication that they are seeking a deal to sell the open-wheel racing series.

The Sports Business Journal is reporting that former Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO and IndyCar founder Tony George has put together an investor group to buy the series from Hulman & Co. and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.

George was ousted as chief of IMS and IndyCar by family members in 2009.

The investor group includes several team owners who compete in the series, including motorsports heavyweights Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske and Michael Andretti. Team owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Zak Brown, owner of Zionsville-based Just Marketing International, a motorsports marketing agency, also are reported to be part of the investor group.

A team spokesman said Chip Ganassi was not available Monday afternoon. Penske declined to comment, and Brown called the report "chatter and speculation."

The newspaper said the group has gone as far as hiring law firm Faegre Baker Daniels LLP to perform due diligence and has approached Hulman & Co. about selling.

It’s unclear what the George-led group has offered, but sources told the newspaper that the group would assume management of IndyCar, which has operated at a loss since its establishment in 1996 as the Indy Racing League, and assume any debts on its books.

Hulman & Co. would retain its majority ownership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and continue to run the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, according to the report. It also could opt to take a minority stake in the IndyCar series during the negotiations.

George declined to confirm or deny to Sports Business Journal that he had engaged the law firm or put together a group of investors and described the “premise” as “inaccurate.”

In a prepared statement issued Monday, Hulman & Co. and IMS adamantly refuted the report.

“The Izod IndyCar Series is not for sale, and representatives from Hulman & Co. and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. have not received or considered any offers to purchase the series,” they said in a prepared statement. "Further, executive management from both Hulman & Co. and IMSC maintain continuous and open dialogue with IndyCar team owners and numerous issues related to the Izod IndyCar Series, and no IndyCar team owner formally or informally approached either organization about purchasing the Izod IndyCar Series.

Hulman & Co. and IMSC said they remain committed to working with the series and its partners as they prepare for the 2013 season and beyond, the two said in the statement.

“The combination of the return of nearly all the 2012 venues, including all the ovals, the addition of new tracks and the revival of the Triple Crown award make this one of the most exciting schedules in recent memory,” they said.

But the past year was difficult for the series. It experienced double-digit decreases in television viewership, had a race in China canceled and began searching for a presenting sponsor that potentially could replace title sponsor Izod before the apparel brand’s deal ends after the 2015 season.

The series announced a 19-race schedule for 2013 on Sunday.

Any decision to sell the series likely would be made by Mari Hulman George, chairwoman of Hulman & Co.’s board, and mother of Tony, the newspaper said.


  • 25/8
    So Miller, SBJ and Jenna Fryer were right and the media insider was wrong. Again. And the ICS* lost $7 million? I guess that's an improvement over the George years.
  • Cryptic Tweets
    Reliable sources have tweeted publicly that something is afoot. I speculate the downturn in overall popularity of the series is the driving force in this buyout. The series owner is losing value and the potential buyer can get in cheap. I think it's too late to save this sport, 2008 was the time but they underestimated how the sports fans hated the IRL and IMS. So now it's dead.
  • Hilarious
    There are more people in this blog than are in the stands of the typical IRL travesty
  • But Zanardi still races
    Here are the facts for those geriatric IMS fans still longing for the Novi and who will eat any putrid dish IMS* puts out and ask for sloppy seconds. OW racing in the US is in decline, this was escalated by the Vision, the split, the IRL* and 25/8. The public has and continues to tune out the Indy 500* and the IRL*, err the IndycAR series*. Any series owned or headed by the twice fire Anton George will be a failure. At this point the Hulman George family has no interest in Tony losing any more of their money to Bernie Madoff (again) or by propping up his Vision through IMS welfare. The DW12 is a step in the right direction but did not help attendance or ratings. The series is saddled by the genius OLN/Verus/NBCS tv contract. Contrary to self appointed media insiders who want to tell you that key metrics are up and the channel is "ahead of it's time", NBC sports is a disaster. 229,000 viewers saw the big Special Ed win at Fontucky and a "Murrican win the championship. So with all that "momentum" let's go back to a NASCAR track and do a doubleheader at a track that self destructed in 2012. Brilliant.
  • 1959?
    Does your dad still give you an allowance or do you collect coke bottles in your wagon to pay for tickets to the races, sonny? 47%er, no doubt.
  • But His Remain Attached
    Items that go well beyond stupid but read in this comment section: A)"The IndyCar Series IS in a death spiral, stop trying to fool yourself." Hmmm. Oddly, that has been the taunt for over 15 years. The only thing that is either true or consistent is the inaccuracy of the sentiment. Woefully so. B) "The keepers of the sport have run it deep into the ground to the tune of $700+ MILLION dollars." Hmmmm. Is this is a deal where if you keep repeating the same fantasy over and over someone might actually believe it? Unlikely. People with access to the books have offered commentary that indicates the estimate is nowhere close to any sort of actual reality. C)"IZOD is headed out," Hmmm. Let me know when they actually depart. It appears they will enthusiastically honor their commitment. D)"the new car is racy but UGLY." Hmmmm. Other than a few disenfranchised cart enthusiasts stuck in 1995, that sentiment is not widely shared. E) "Fans have been driven away at an alarming pace, this year alone 20% have left to find other things to do with their time and money." In actual fact, attendance remained steady or up, and the television audience, though slightly smaller in terms of 12+ overnights (the bible of Internet forum squatters), remains steady in targeted demos. F) "Yet, you chide bloggers here for maturity and honesty? Look in the mirror friend, it's that person who is in denial. It's over bud, sell your E stand seats and move on...business folks know this deal is a LOSER" Just once I wish those who actually fee that way would put their money where their typing fingers are. But they won't. They would have to get past the fourth grade. I've been buying tickets since 1959. I intend, as an actual racing fan, to continue to do so as long as I can breathe through both my nose and mouth and walk upright. And none of the inane commentary has anything to do with the topic, an unsubstantiated rumor about the sale of IndyCar.
  • But Sam Scmidt doesn't
    It's funny that the IMS*/Hulman sycophants have nothing to add but attempting to deflect and name call . OCD, obsessed, bleat bleat bleat. All major racing series are still racing, so much for the "momentum". LOL
  • I'm a business enthusiast
    Sporto, I am a business enthusiast and this is a business blog about Indiana sports. The IndyCar Series IS in a death spiral, stop trying to fool yourself. The keepers of the sport have run it deep into the ground to the tune of $700+ MILLION dollars. IZOD is headed out, the new car is racy but UGLY. Fans have been driven away at an alarming pace, this year alone 20% have left to find other things to do with their time and money. Yet, you chide bloggers here for maturity and honesty? Look in the mirror friend, it's that person who is in denial. It's over bud, sell your E stand seats and move on...business folks know this deal is a LOSER.
  • Kenny Brack Still Walks On His Own Legs
    Why is it whenever intelligent discourse by actual racing enthusiasts is attempted the same handful of obsessed children leech onto whatever topic is even remotely related to open wheel racing and begin mindlessly taunting? The only real value these OCD-like folks ever bring is cutesy name calling, straw man argument attempts, and widly variant topic divergence, usually into some dark recess of distant history. I suppose if the average reader was in the fourth grade that kind of juvenile behavior might be appreciated. As far as I know, however, the IBJ tends to cater to a more mature crowd. Be that as it may, the point they do not seem to get is that IndyCar is not for sale, and Tony George as we as all owners speculated to be in on the deal have denied involvement. There is no story.
  • I know a group of people
    who will happily pay for you to have your very own Kenny Brack experience at Texas. No, really I do.
  • Revisionist history
    CART knew when to cancel races in the name of safety unlike the gimmick at Vegas. RIP Dan Wheldon. Was the yard sale at the twice fired TG's house held to raise funds for his hostile takeover? LOL
  • Concerned About China, eh? Cute.
    About the same as Ansan. Or Hawaii. Though not as embarrassing as Texas. And, even more galling, the Indy Car Series remains in business as opposed to killing itself. Twice.
  • It's rag-tag
    The 2013 schedule is a loser. Four years ago, they had side-by-side....in them 8 year old Dallaras on REAL NASCAR ovhals. And at Richmond, Kansas, Phoenix, Nazareth, Homestead, Dover, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicagoland, Gateway, Michigan, Pikes Peak, New Hampshire, moNtegi...to just name a few. What happened? Why has the IZODINDYSeries been kicked out of so many ovals? Just because there's a schedule don't mean it's a good one. Even Qingdao was on the 2012 sched...how'd that work out?
  • This Just In...
    It appears there will be a 2013 season. The preceding is a public service announcement for those who choose to remain in denial.
  • Is the sport better now than 4 years ago?
    Is AOW better now than 4 years ago? I say "no". It has slid off the radar in every conceivable fashion. FOUR continuous years of Indy TV ratings alone being at or near the lowest in the 500's broadcast history. But, I know...it's their business and they can do what they want. To the tune of MINUS $700+ MILLION. Now, that's doing some business...
  • RIP Paul Dana
    Mari wouldn't even sell the joint to Elmer's boy! I'll bet Tony, Special Ed and Tony George. Jr. have a back up plan. Keep it in the family is the H/G motto!
  • Rumor has it...
    ...Adele is buying the series. Robin Miller to be named CEO.
  • Rumor has it...
    ...Adele is buying the series.
  • Friend...
    It's Randy didn't have the heart to tell ya cuz...it's over.
  • And every single year
    the speedway is poorer than the year before
    • Tourettes Can Be Treated
      A) How many more years, or even decades will pass until this 'IndyCar is doomed' yelping will come to fruition? As previously stated, with each passing year that type of bleating makes the shouting children look even more silly. B) Have any of you youngsters ever bothered to quantify these hundreds of millions dollars of supposed losses (what's it up to now...700 mil?-LOL)? C) I guess we'll have to wait around until IndyCar 'fails' at 42 venues (the cart number) before it can truly fail. Again, LOL. Look, I admire your obsession, but grow up.
    • The evidence can not be refuted
      The "series" has never been profitable, since 1996. 17 years of FAILURE. No legacy before 17 years ago. Tossed out of 30+ tracks now. Several hundred MILLIONS spent for double-headers and cancelled China races. What's the "oval to street course" ratio now? It's over man....it's over, face it.
    • RIP Dan Wheldon
      Belle Isle doubleheader? Brilliant, Will it give them enough time to repair the track after it self destructs? Any word on refunds for the Qingdao Super Prix? If Special Ed replaces Hamilton at McClaren who gets Ed's seat? Schumacher?
    • See What I Mean By Obsession?
      Again, oddly, the 'onion gum' league will begin it's 17th season with new events and formats, including a return of the triple crown. On national OTA television. cart and it's successor series are still both quite dead. It seems as though we must take into consideration the relative maturity and intelligence of people who spout out tourettes-like epithets such as 'the league is a joke' without any real explanation. Speaking of kids and jokes, I am still wondering what Randy would need to apologize to anyone for. Especially Internet stalkers.
    • the purveyor of facts
      Some only bloviate though. Fact is the series is near death. 20+% DECREASE in TV ratings. Cancelled races, no sanction fees, rental tracks, ugly car, about 277K watched/cared enough to watch season "exciting" season finale. Good thing you are not running the series but you'd couldn't be any worse than the bums running it now. You both put your head in the sand. Randy, you should have apologized.
    • It still tastes like....
      Onion Gum. The league continues to be a joke in every sense of the word.
    • The Obsession Continues
      I still find it odd there exist child-like thinkers who have deluded themselves into an impaired belief that Tony George 'ruined' anything. After all, the only series not around today is cart, which destroyed itself not once, but twice. If they were as spectacular as their apologists attempt to position it and Tony George is as dull as the insults hurled his way, why is Indy Car still around and cart isn't? Grab a mirror, critics. Add even a slight amount of intelligence and maturity, then re-evaluate. In this case I prefer to rely on facts. The facts we have indicate there is no offer and all owners who are said to be involved have officially denied. Note to so called journalists: Fact checking is a wonderful thing. The other humorous aspect of this creepy obsession the kids have with this subject is the portent of doom every single year. And every single year the same loudmouths look even more stupid than they did the year before.
    • Not only did he ruin it
      he destroyed it! Hey Mike, can you say track rentals r us. Name another entity that has been shown the door more than IRLcars
    • I'm torn down
      Operated at a "LOSS" since 1996? Where do you think the $700+ MILLIONS went? IMHO, they should dump this series and take what they can get for it. It was 2013 that Lord Sagamore opined as the "drop dead date" if it didn't turn a profit. Well, guess what...2013 is here. DEATHBLOW 2013????
    • 25/8
      TG did more damage than any one person to get OW in the sorry state it is in now. TG threw a fit when the CART board rejected him as a 31 year inheritor fresh out of rehab. He then started the IRL* with the lie of giving "opportunities to Murricans". How'd that work out? He spent a ton of H/G money, adopted the CART model and then was shown the door by his Mother. Twice. The biggest decline in ratings, attendance, sponsorship, manufacturer involvement, credibility and relevance took place under TG's watch. And he signed the awful TV contract the ICS is now saddled with. The good racing with the DW12 will not overcome 15 + years of TG's scorched earth.
    • I agree
      It was not Tony, trust me.
    • IndyCar
      You have no idea what you are talking about when you say Tony George ruined IndyCar.
      • NO NO NO
        George almost ruined Indy car racing once. It still hasn't recovered. Please, don't give him another chance!

        Post a comment to this story

        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
        Subscribe to IBJ