Jan 31, 2010
To say that January has been a lousy month for racing’s Tony George is putting it mildly.
As we chronicled for you last week, George recently resigned from his board of director responsibilities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Company, the business that stages the Indianapolis 500. That came after he was forced out of his president/CEO post last year. We reported in our last column that George would keep his hand in IRL racing through his team, Vision Racing, but now word has come down that he is shutting down Vision Racing as well.
So the man who sent shockwaves through the American racing community a little more than a decade ago is now, for all intents and purposes, out of racing.
Vision Racing began operations in 2005 with George’s stepson, Ed Carpenter, as its key driver, and it was never much of a force in the sport. With the economy in the doldrums this year, George was unable to find a sufficient number of sponsors to keep the team in operation, which likely means pink slips for the dozen or so workers employed by the team, although there is the possibility if the team finds a financial angel, it could be revived.
“We’re suspending operations, but I don’t know fully what that means,” Carpenter told The Indianapolis Star. “We’re still pursuing opportunities to resume operations.”As the president and CEO of the Hulman family business, George split the open-wheel landscape in two with his creation of the Indy Racing League a decade and a half ago. Leaning on the money and prestige of the Indianapolis 500, the IRL finally outlasted its rival, the Champ Car World Series, but the victory was hollow because years of strife had sent the auto racing fan elsewhere. In the aftermath, George was unceremoniously dumped from the top spot in the family business, and now he is not only out of that family business altogether but also out of racing altogether. Although he was seen for years as a risk taker, one thing he apparently is not crazy enough to do is spend a large portion of his money on a racing team sponsorship.
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