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Sports Business

Speedway boss says Tony George's promotion won't take him off course

July 25, 2016
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Since Sunday’s revelation at the Brickyard 400 that former Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George has been elevated to chairman of Hulman & Co., there's been no shortage of people asking what this means for the vaunted racing venue on the city’s west side.

Hulman & Co. is the parent company of the Speedway and IndyCar Series.

“If you understand the difference between governance and management, it’s really very simple,” said Mark Miles, who has been CEO of Hulman & Co. since late 2012. “It doesn’t affect management at all.”

That includes Miles himself, who said he has a “close working relationship” with Tony George—who once had Miles’ position—and has no plans to leave the company.

Miles confirmed that the company’s 11-member board of directors voted that George would replace his mother, Mari Hulman-George, as chairman in March. He declined to elaborate on exactly why the move was made. There’s been wide speculation that Hulman-George, 81, is in declining health.

“The board felt like it was the appropriate time,” Miles said.

The board is composed of Tony George, his mother and three sisters, and six other community stalwarts: Miles, Indiana Pacers executive Jim Morris, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, LDI Ltd. Chairman Andre Lacy, Cardinal Equity Partners Managing Director John Ackerman, and former Anthem Chief Financial Officer Michael L. Smith.

Tony George's most recent stay on the board started in early 2013. His elevation to chairman, Miles said, should have little impact on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IndyCar Series or larger Hulman & Co. enterprise, which has holdings in banking, real estate and other industries.

In a “non-executive” position, the Hulman & Co. chairman is primarily responsible for running board meetings, Miles said. Tony George and the other board members will continue to deal with “governance and oversite,” while Miles and his staff will handle day-to-day management of the company, Miles said.

Miles pointed out that the company’s board of directors has remained the same since 2014 and that they’re working off a three-year plan—which remains in place.

“Policy is set, and I’ve been absolutely pleased about the relationship between the board and management,” Miles said.

Tony George’s elevation to chairman comes seven years after his was forced out of his CEO job by his mother and sisters. Although the family never commented about the 2009 decision, sources close to the Speedway and IndyCar Series, said it was due to heavy financial losses related to running the open-wheel series, which was launched in 1996.

George resigned from the board of directors several months later.

Since his firing as Speedway and IndyCar boss, Tony George has made an unsuccessful attempt to try to buy the IndyCar Series, left the board and then rejoined it.

Miles said there was no hesitancy about making Tony George chairman in March.

“It’s not like there were campaign speeches,” Miles said. “It was the judgment of the directors. Tony’s knowledge [of racing] I’m sure played into the decision.”

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