MEHL TO STEP DOWN AS INDY RACING LEAGUE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 18, 1999 - Tony George, founder of the Indy Racing League and president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced today that Leo Mehl will step down effective Dec. 3 as executive director of the Indy Racing League and vice president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mehl, 63, plans to spend more time with his wife, Marjorie, and their family, George said. Mehl has served as the chief administrator for the Indy Racing League since Dec. 2, 1996, joining the league following his retirement from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company after more than 30 years in the company's racing division. George will continue to provide executive oversight of the Indy Racing League. "We are grateful for the enormous contributions that Leo Mehl has made to the Indy Racing League during his tenure as executive director," George said. "He has overseen many positive developments in the league for the last three years. "The entire Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League family - officials, drivers, owners, sponsors, manufacturers and fans - will miss Leo 's professionalism and integrity. His leadership and spirit of innovation have set the stage for tremendous growth for the future, and we offer our best wishes to him and his family." Mehl oversaw day-to-day operations of the Indy Racing League during a period of significant growth and innovation. "It has been a real pleasure for me to serve as executive director of the Indy Racing League and vice president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Mehl said. "This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career." Mehl was responsible for many advancements in safety and enhancement of close competition in Indy Racing, including: *The introduction and successful implementation of the league's new chassis and 4-liter engine package in 1997. *The successful safety enhancements on the 1998 chassis, including crushable gearboxes and increased head protection for drivers. These innovations were further developed in the 1999 chassis. *The introduction of a new point system, starting in the 1998 season, that created a proper balance of reward for race victories and consistent finishes. *The introduction and successful implementation of the Polyethylene Energy Dissipating System, known as the PEDS Barrier, in May 1998 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This new, energy-absorbing barrier was a revolutionary step forward in track safety. *The introduction, design and successful implementation of the Suspension & Wheel Energy Management System (SWEMS) in May 1999. This vanguard innovation in open-wheel racing safety dramatically reduced the possibility of wheel assemblies becoming detached from cars during high-speed accidents. *The introduction and successful implementation of the league's rev limiter rule in May 1999. This rule provided a cost-effective method to curtail speed and enhance safety for all Indy Racing drivers. *The design and coordination of the league's new engine 3.5-liter engine and chassis package, which will be introduced at the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in January 2000. "It's been a great privilege for me to work with all the owners, drivers, promoters, sponsors, manufacturers and especially the fans who have helped build the Indy Racing League," Mehl said. "I think together we have accomplished a great deal, and the plans for the 2000 season race cars and engine are exciting. "I probably am most proud of the Indy Racing League staff that I leave behind. They are experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Tony George and the staff of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Tony gave me this wonderful opportunity to work for the greatest racing facility and organization in the world." Mehl also played a major role in other aspects of the league's growth, including public relations, television and marketing. Before joining the Indy Racing League, Mehl was general manager of worldwide racing for Goodyear for 22 years. He was responsible for all aspects of the racing tire program, including sales, marketing, public relations, advertising, and race-tire development and production. Goodyear won more than 83 percent of all events in 23 North American and one international racing series in competition with 14 tire companies during Mehl's tenure as head of worldwide racing. As a chemical engineer with Goodyear, Mehl helped develop the tires that put A.J. Foyt and Goodyear back into the Indianapolis 500 winner's circle in 1967.