Tony George Leads Offer for IndyCar Series

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(from Sports Business Journal, October 2, 2012) The board for Hulman & Co., current owners of the IndyCar Series, is considering a proposal for the open-wheel-racing operation. Tony George, former IndyCar Series CEO, put together an investor group consisting of the sport’s top team owners to propose that the board sell them the IndyCar Series. The group hired Faegre Baker Daniels law firm to begin financial evaluation of the purchase. The offered amount for the series is unknown, but sources said, “The group would take over management of IndyCar, which operated at a loss this year, and assume any debt on its books.” IndyCar Series had a rough season; management was forced to cancel races, reevaluate sponsorships, and experienced double-digit decreases in TV viewership.

If sold, Hulman & Co. plans to retain majority ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and run IndyCar’s Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 races. The board may also propose a minority stake in the IndyCar Series.

George brokered a $40 million deal in 2008 to merge Indy Racing League and Champ Car to create what is now the IndyCar Series. IndyCar Series suffered financial trouble the next year due to the recession, causing George to resign. George was replaced in 2010 by Randy Bernard, former head of Professional Bull Riders. That year, George, who is now a member of the Hulman & Co. board, put together an investor group to take over the series which was unsuccessful.

On the day the investor group presented the takeover proposal, Bernard met with Hulman & Co. board. The final decision from Hulman & Co. to sell will be made by Mari Hulman George, the board’s chairwoman and controller of majority of the voting interest in the company. If the George-led investor group is successful, motorsports marketer Zak Brown will lead the management team. Bernard was scheduled to announce the series’ 2013 schedule Sunday, hopefully expanding its number of races from 15 to 19 next season.