Hulman and Company Chairman Tony George believes that the sale of the firm’s motorsport assets to Penske Corporation represents the best opportunity for IMS and IndyCar to find a higher gear – but that didn’t make the decision any easier.
“It’s obviously emotionally difficult,” said George, who was visibly fighting to keep some of that emotion in check when speaking at IMS on Monday. “But we all love it, and we all care deeply for it. I think we all realize that as a family and as an organization, we probably had taken it as far as we can.
“I think that Roger, his structure, his resources, his capabilities that he demonstrates, are only going to take this to another level, so that’s what we’re all about. We’re supporting elevating this asset and staking a new claim on its future. We, with emotion, are happy to be here today.”
George said that the deal for the transfer of ownership of America’s most famous racing venue, as well as the IndyCar series itself, came together extraordinarily quickly given the complexity of what was under negotiation. He made his initial approach to Penske on the grid at Laguna Seca in September, and things moved quickly in the days that followed.
“It was a pretty easy,” George said. “Not easy by any means, but this isn’t their first rodeo. So they were able to execute around diligence very quickly, and it led to an announcement that miraculously… not many things are kept under wraps around here, but this was fairly well-contained, and we were able to present this to the world this morning.”
George also recognized that the sale represents a fundamental shift for the almost-170-year-old Hulman and Co, which sold its other prize asset – the Clabber Girl baking power brand – in May.
“It is somewhat bittersweet, because the 170-year-old company as we know it is coming to an end,” he said.
“But we’re very, very proud. We feel like we’re going to continue to be a part of it. Everybody who comes here has their own story, and there are memories and the accomplishments that make it special for them.
“We’re just fortunate that our family and our family business has had a 73-year run being part of it and being a steward, and we continue to be grateful for the opportunity that we may have going forward, and I for one intend to take advantage of it. We’ll be here supporting the events with teams. Maybe our little team to expand to do other things, which we’re going to need to do. So if Roger has a 24-hour race, by George I think we’re going to try and be here. We may have to look at getting into NASCAR, too.”