The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced on Tuesday that veteran IMS executives W Curtis Brighton and Jeffrey G Belskus have replaced Tony George running the Hulman-George companies and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting today July 1. Brighton has served the Hulmans and IMS as executive vice president and chief legal counsel and is now president and CEO of Hulman & Company, whilst Belskus becomes president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
Rumours of George’s ousting broke two days after this year’s 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 when Motor Sport contributor Robin Miller reported that George’s mother and three sisters had decided the time had come to end his 19-year presidency of the IMS. Now comes confirmation that George has lost his jobs as president and CEO of the Hulman-George Companies and the IMS, although he will remain as a board member.
Belskus has been with the IMS since 1987, quickly moving up the company’s hierarchy as he became treasurer, chief financial officer, and then vice-president. By 1994 Belskus was promoted to executive vice-president and served in that capacity until today’s promotion to the top job. Brighton joined Hulman & Company in 1994 as vice president and legal counsel and was promoted in 2002 to executive vice-president and general counsel. He has served in a similar capacity with the IMS, Clabber Girl Corporation and the Indy Racing League.
“Our board had asked Tony to structure the executive staff to create efficiencies in our business structure and to concentrate his leadership efforts on the Indy Racing League,” said Mari Hulman George, IMS chairman and Tony’s mother. “He has decided that with the recent unification of open-wheel racing and the experienced management team IMS has cultivated over the years, now would be the time for him to concentrate on his team ownership of Vision Racing with his family as well as his other personal business interests”.
As well as his new focus Tony George remains on the Board of Directors for all the group’s companies.
Mrs George’s statement continued: “Jeff and Curt have both been with the company for many years in positions of top leadership. Tony, as well as the entire Board of Directors, has the utmost confidence in their capabilities. Both of these men have years of experience and leadership within our companies. In addition, each of our companies has an effective presidential leadership that will remain in place.
†“These changes underscore our family’s commitment to all of our companies, especially to the growth of the Indy Racing League and the sport of open-wheel racing,” Mrs. George said. “We believe the Hulman-George family’s long stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, beginning in 1945, and our significant investment in the Speedway and in the IRL demonstrates that we have full confidence in all of our companies and that we intend to expand them in the future.”
Tony George’s 19-year reign at the helm of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway comes to an end as the track begins its 100th anniversary celebrations. The Speedway was opened in August 1909 and the first 500-mile race was run in May of 1911. By all accounts the new regime places the track and the Hulman-George family companies in solid corporate hands, but it will take some time before we can assess what impact these changes will have on the IRL and Indy car racing as a whole.