George turned down IRL-only role

Tony George has confirmed that he was offered the chance to continue running the IndyCar Series after losing his position as head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - but turned the job because he felt the championship and racetrack should remain inextricably linked

George turned down IRL-only role

The founder of the Indy Racing League relinquished his role as the boss of his family companies last week after a month of speculation that the board had grown frustrated with the amount of Indianapolis' finance that the IndyCar Series required.

Although George will remain on the Indy board, his primary responsibility will now be running his Vision Racing team in IndyCar and Indy Lights.

"At a board meeting a little over a month ago, the Board of Directors of Hulman & Compnay and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway asked me to propose a management reorganisation that would focus my duties exclusively upon the operation, promotion and development of the Indy Racing League, which I founded in 1994 and have overseen the development of since 1996," said George in a statement on Vision's website - his first public comments on the situation.

"At a board meeting [last week of June], I was asked to continue as CEO of the Indy Racing League, reporting to a new President and CEO of IMS.

"In my view, this would have created an unnecessary bureaucratic layer between the people in the operations of the IRL and the CEO of IMS that had not previously existed. From the perspective of my experience as President and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I am acutely aware that the interests of IndyCar racing as a sport, the IRL as a league, and the most important motorsports race in the world, are mutually dependant and inter-connected, both now and in the future.

"I did not feel that a subordinate position as 'CEO of the IRL' was a management vehicle which would allow me to accomplish the objectives that the family and the board requested me to pursue. I declined that position."

George said he will continue to have input into reshaping the Indianapolis management structure to give the series a stronger future.

"Since our May board meeting, as requested, I have offered my advice to the board on management reorganisation, but also and perhaps more importantly, a reorganisation of our board, which would provide a structure for better governance for generations to come," he said.

"It is my belief that, with the recent unification of open-wheel racing, the focus should be on the future rather than the past.

"I am encouraged that in recent conversations with my mother and chairman of the board, Mari George, I learned that she also sees the wisdom of taking a forward-looking approach which will provide consistent and coordinated leadership.

"In the near future, I will be providing a proposal for the board to evaluate. I have been assured by the chairman that the board will engage in appropriate dialogue, with constructive give and take."

He also dismissed any suggestion that his departure would have an adverse effect on the series that he created. When reports of his impending exit first surfaced, the IndyCar team owners were quick to express their concern that a post-George IMS management might not support the IndyCar Series as wholeheartedly.

"There have been many questions raised in the industry and in the media about whether any of these recent changes reflect a reduction in the commitment of our family or the IMS to the IRL or the sport of IndyCar racing," said George.

"I have been assured by my mother that no such reduction of support or commitment is intended or anticipated. I can assure teams, sponsors, media and fans that our family is sincere in its commitment to the Indianapolis 500, the League and the sport."

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