Tony George is the grandson of Tony Hulman, who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the end of World War II. He is the current owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is also the president of Hulman and Co.
Born Anton Hulman George, Tony is the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is also the president of Hulman and Co.
Tony is the grandson of Tony Hulman, who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the end of World War II. His mother (and Hulman's daughter), Mari Hulman George, serves as the speedway's chairman of the board and currently delivers its famed "gentlemen (and lady), start your engines" before every Indianapolis 500.
Tony George became president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation after the death of Joe Cloutier in 1989. During his first few years as Speedway head, he oversaw new projects such as Tower Terrace Suites, pit lane reconstruction, and a control tower.
Before George's arrival, the IMS traditionally had only one race: the Indianapolis 500. He changed that when the International Race of Champions circuit made its debut on the track in May 1992. But this was nothing compared to his announcement that a NASCAR race would be held at the Speedway. The Brickyard 400 made its debut on August 6, 1994, with Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag. George also helped bring Formula One to the track with the first United States Grand Prix held in Indianapolis in 2000. This project involved building a road course inside IMS's oval. Despite the controversy surrounding the 2005 United States Grand Prix, George still plans on having Formula One race at the track, and the 2006 event has been scheduled.
George's biggest claim to infamy, or fame, depending on one's point of view of CART racing in the early 1990s era, however, involved the creation of a new open wheel series that would challenge the established series at the time, CART. He announced the creation of the Indy Racing League, which began racing in 1996. He created the IRL to encourage a more even playing field in open wheel racing. He also wanted an all-oval series, which would make it distinct from CART, which is dominated by road and street courses. However, George angered many CART figureheads by requiring 25 of the 33 spots in the Indianapolis 500 to be occupied by drivers in the IRL circuit. His allegedly abrasive personality didn't help matters either. CART decided to boycott the race and stage their own race on the same day, the U.S. 500. Due to the CART boycott, most of the biggest names didn't enter the Indianapolis 500 for several years. George became a hated figure among some racing fans, and he was blamed for open wheel racing losing fans and drivers to NASCAR, while other racing fans supported his IRL. The idea that open wheel racing fans have been "lost" to NASCAR has never been explained from a unbiased point of view.
Despite the IRL's original intent, George added road courses to the originally all-oval circuit in 2005, and it became more expensive to field a team in what used to be a relatively cheap racing league. George has helped lead the IRL to more media attention and relative better finances than CART (which went bankrupt and became Champ Car). Whether it means that IRL outdraws Champ Car in attendance and popularity (outside of the Indianapolis 500) is still in dispute among racing fans (and can't be determined from an unbiased point of view). Regardless, George remains a controversial figure among those who follow open wheel racing.