PEOPLE: TONY GEORGE
Name: Tony George
Nationality: United States of America
The Hulman-George Family is one of the richest in Indiana, dating back more than 150 years to when Herman Hulman established a grocery business in Terre Haute, Indiana. The family eventually acquired a near-monopoly of baking powder in the United States and and under Herman's grandson Tony Hulman Jr the family empire had grown to include newspapers, TV and radio stations and a gas company. In 1945 Hulman was approached by triple Indianapolis 500 winner Wilbur Shaw and asked if he would like to buy the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which at the time belonged to "Captain Eddie" Rickenbacker. Shaw was worried that the Speedway might be sold off to real estate developers and Hulman, believing that the Speedway was part of Indiana folklore, agreed to save it. Hulman died in 1977 and his empire passed into the hands of his daughter Mari Hulman George. The Speedway was run by one of Tony Hulman's closest aide until Tony Hulman George - Tony Hulman Jr's grandson - took over in 1989, at the age of only 30.
George had raced in the American racing Series in the early 1980s but without much success and decided that he wanted to expand the activities of the Speedway and modernizing the facilities and upgraded the Speedway golf course to championship level and in 1994 broke with tradition and added a second race to the Indianapolis calendar. The Brickyard 400 NASCAR race was a huge success in 1996 he launched the Indy Racing League, in opposition to CART in an effort to give young American drivers a chance at the top level. It plunged US single-seater racing into a civil war which continues to this day.
George then formed a partnership with the International Speedway Corporation, which is controlled by Bill France - the owner of NASCAR, known as The Motorsports Alliance which controls 15 racing facilities in the United States.
In 1999 George funded the rebuilding of the Speedway to include an infield road course and the following year did a deal to host the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. The event has been a success although building up interest in F1 in the US remains a long term task.