Monday, October 22, 2012

Tony George: Looking for his Lost Stripes - or His last Hurrah?

Yowza! I’m starting to feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of Open Wheel Racing Bloggers here at No Fenders - as Juan esteemed OWR Curmudgeon; NO! Not Robin Miller sez I use 2 much slang, and another sez Ok, if you write ‘Somme-thun ‘bout ‘TG, then DON’T digress; SHEEZ! Ize getz NO respect; Hya!

Thus I promise to try not spilling any personal venom towards tony George, who’s currently rumoured to be leading the charge of some undisclosed renegade group of wealthy persons in a Takeover bid of the Indy Car Series from his family’s private company Hulman & Co who has owned the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1945.

Having listened to Trackside via the Podcast last Friday night, I was struck by the two OWR Armchair Quarterbacks Kevin Lee & Curt Cavin’s quest towards trying to understand how this acquisition makes any sort of financial sense, which I’m hard pressed myself to follow.

First of all, how do we, as the CART “Loyalists” get our heads around this? While I’m painfully aware that Tony George did not cause The Split alone, nevertheless you cannot say he didn’t play a very large role in it, and certainly his fingerprints are all over this horrible period in Open Wheel racing’s history. Thus if the reports are true about current and potential sponsors staying away from IndyCar over this uncertainty - then how will this entice them to join another organization with TG involved?

Yet there must be something to this perceived Takeover bid since we’ve now learned that Tony George has resigned once again from the Board of Directors, albeit this time the board  of Hulman & Co in order to clarify the perceived and very real conflict of interest  towards his attempt to purchase IndyCar away from ultimately his family.

As far as I can tell, Open Wheel Racing has flourished and floundered under the auspices of several different ruling parties, sanctioning bodies and individuals per sei, as AAA, USAC, CART, IRL and IndyCar have all taken their shots at controlling the direction of this type of motor racing in the United States, as the only sanctioning body outside the Speedway’s true control was  CART, which we all know was owned and orchestrated by its team owners, who ironically were dissatisfied with the direction Open Wheel Racing was being handled at the time by the sports governing body created by the late Tony Hulman.

And I cannot think of a situation where a failed CEO is recalled to attempt running his/her company once again, which in effect is what George is trying to do in some sort of fashion. While I have no knowledge towards this in either way, my personal belief  is that Tony’s never had to spend any of his own money in regards to running a series - as after all isn’t that the crux of what led to his dismissal from the IMS and Indy Racing League?

Although I suppose I’d have to guess that it was his own money behind the failed attempt of being an IRL Team Owner, (Vision Racing) yet once again how did that work out for him? And yeah I know he’s also behind the extremely more successful Ed Carpenter Racing IndyCar team... but then again how much of the shots is he truly calling there?

Basically it seems to boil down in a nutshell to what Curt Cavin said last Thursday evening on Trackside. These types of issues always revolve around either: power, ego or money - and it seems to me that Tony George is just continuing his role as a spoiled little rich boy who hasn’t gotten his way and is seeking a change in order to re-insert himself into the spotlight regardless of what is best for Open Wheel Racing’s sake.

As I keep hearing how the Indy Car Series is a money losing proposition, which I whole heartily believe, as what’s that saying? Oh yeah, something to thee effect that you need a whole lot of money to make a little money in motor racing! While I haven’t heard anybody discuss the possibility of the Indy Car Series being a potential tax right-off for Hulman & Co?

Yes, I’ll admit that somebody is actually spending wheelbarrow loads of real or electronic dollars each year in order to keep the hallowed grounds of 16th & Georgetown open not only each May but year round - and IndyCar is the series that fills the stadium’s cavernous seats each Memorial Day and Tony George’s band of Merrymen might actually improve upon the series, but how can they drastically change or improve it? And why would Hulman & Co wish to gamble upon losing the series current positive momentum - however small you perceive that to be.

And whatever you may think about the current regime, can Open Wheel Racing afford to regress backwards with Indianapolis once again becoming just another race in somebody else’s series? I mean talk about your negativity, eh?