Despite rumors, don't look for IMS leadership to change anytime soon
According to a report Wednesday,
"There was a general discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing all of our companies and where most of our energies need to be spent," IMS chairman of the board, and Tony's mother,
Added Tony George: "Contrary to published reports, I continue to serve as CEO of IMS ... no changes in leadership or responsibility have been made. We don't normally comment on board deliberations concerning our family business. However, the widespread, inaccurate reports and rumors caused my mother and me to conclude that it was necessary to set the record straight."
George has been the head of IMS since January, 1990, when he was voted in as president by the board. The family-owned speedway faced a crisis of leadership following the death of
Cloutier had been
Tony George, then 29, was the only candidate from the family to take over primary management responsibilities. Mari, Josie and Nancy had never shown any interest in running the famous race track.
"In the minds of most, I probably wasn't the logical successor at the time," George told me in 2004 for a story in
"At some point, consideration was given to me. I had some reservations, but I didn't want to take myself out of consideration. In the end, it was decided it would be best to try to keep leadership of the company inside the family. With some reluctance and trepidation, they decided to give me a shot. I was a bit honored by that, but at the same time, a bit overwhelmed."
George has become a decisive and aggressive leader over the last 19 years. The IMS board has supported his decisions to bring in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Formula One and MotoGP, build a road course, invest heavily in infrastructure and fund the IRL.
The IMS board is largely the same as in 1990, except for Mary Fendrich Hulman, who died in 1998. The only addition has been
The Hulman-George family is intensely private about its business affairs. Parent company Hulman and Company, the maker of Clabber Girl Baking Powder that has 65 percent of the U.S. market, is privately held, along with IMS and many other substantial investments in real estate, energy and banking. Mary Fendrich Hulman's fortune was listed at $140 million by
Given the family history, it seems unlikely they would put an outsider in the top job at IMS. Who from the family is ready for such responsibility? George's son,
The board has asked George to prioritize his attention in the IRL, the financial weak link in the family business, and to develop a plan for future leadership, which probably means grooming the next generation for specific jobs at IMS, IRL and Hulman and Company. George is CEO of all the Hulman-George companies. George moved away from the day-to-day decision making at IMS when he named
Don't count on that happening anytime soon.