Almost two years removed from his angry and abrupt departure, Tony George is back in the family business.
SPEED.com has learned that George has been reinstated on the board of directors of Hulman & Company, the umbrella that funds and administers the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IZOD INDYCAR series and Clabber Girl Baking Powder.
It’s believed that Mari Hulman George, board chairwoman for Hulman & Company in addition to being chairman of the board at IMS, made the call to bring her son back into the fold.
It doesn’t appear that George’s re-emergence will immediately affect the day-to-day operation of INDYCAR or the Indianapolis 500, although he was known to have made an unsuccessful attempt last summer to purchase the series he started with a couple of investors.
George had served as Chief Executive Officer of Hulman & Company and the Speedway before resigning both positions on June 30, 2009 following what can best be described as a civil war among his siblings.
The only male child of Mari Hulman George and the namesake of IMS savior Anton Hulman, Tony had held those offices since 1989 and was replaced by a pair of longtime IMS loyalists -- Jeff Belskus and Curt Brighton.
Belskus, the chief financial officer for Hulman & Company for 20 years, was elevated to president and CEO of IMS on July 1, 2009 while Brighton, who served as general counsel for the Hulman/George family beginning in 1994, took over as president and CEO of Hulman & Company.
Since founding the Indy Racing League in 1994, George had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on IRL teams, drivers, entry fees, marketing plans, airplanes, personnel and his own team.
The IRL was a financial loser from Day 1 and, coupled with the estimated $60 million overhaul of IMS to accommodate Formula One in 2000, George’s sisters voiced their concern to their mother over the spending habits of their brother.
Nancy George, Josie George and Kathi Conforti-George finally convinced Mari Hulman George to take the check book and unchecked power away from Tony George in June of 2009.
That didn’t sit well with George and not only did he resign both of his positions at IMS and Hulman & Company, he also stepped down as IRL president and became just another car owner with Vision Racing, which closed its doors in 2010.
“As members of his family, we are sorry to see Tony leave,” said Mari Hulman George in 2009. “We are grateful for his service to our company as a board member and for serving as CEO and president of our companies.
“I speak for our whole family in wishing him well. All of us had hoped Tony would continue to serve on the board and we made that clear to him. We are disappointed with his decision to step down despite our wishes.”
Josie George took it upon herself to find a successor for her brother and she hired Randy Bernard away from the Pro Bull Riders in January of 2010.
Since taking over the IRL, Bernard’s aggressive approach has new cars and engines in place for 2012, two new engine manufacturers in General Motors and Lotus and multiple companies interested in building bodywork kits.
Bernard also greatly reduced the overall losses for the series in 2010.