IRL: IMS: Hulman-George Era 60 years, part 2 of 5

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT 60 YEARS OF STEWARDSHIP BY HULMAN-GEORGE FAMILY AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 -- Quotes from selected motorsports, civic and political leaders about the 60th anniversary of the ...


INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 -- Quotes from selected motorsports, civic and political leaders about the 60th anniversary of the Hulman-George family's purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Tony Hulman purchased the track Nov. 14, 1945:

LIST OF INDIVIDUALS QUOTED: Mike Ahern, Mario Andretti, Evan Bayh, Tom Carnegie, Joie Chitwood, Mitch Daniels, Bernie Ecclestone, Chris Economaki, A.J. Foyt, Bill France Jr., James Garner, Andy Granatelli, Janet Guthrie, Davey Hamilton, Florence Henderson, Bob Jenkins, John Livengood, Richard G. Lugar, Bill McGowan, Jim Nabors, Roger S. Penske, Bart Peterson, Richard Petty, Sir Jackie Stewart, Tony Stewart, Dan Wheldon.

MIKE AHERN (News anchor, WISH-TV, Indianapolis, 1967-2004): "The first time I saw video of the track post-war was the show Sid Collins had done, "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," which chronicled some of the races over the years after the Hulman family purchased the track. You're really struck by the video of the track (during World War II); it had just gone to seed with grass growing up in the cracks and the grandstands were all crumbling. It's amazing how Tony Hulman brought it back so quickly. When you see that video, you see just how devastated the whole area was, and the fact that he restored it so quickly and turn it into the event it is today is remarkable. No matter how much success the Colts or Pacers have, or the amateur sports venues, this (Indianapolis) is the home of the '500' and always will be. That's what we're known for worldwide. The transformation of the city has been pretty well chronicled in the last 20 years, with amateur sports and the Colts and all the downtown development, but really, the renaissance of Indianapolis as no longer a flyover, but a destination point, started with the race and what the Hulman family did with the restoration of the track and its traditions. In fact, a friend of mine, Tim Ryan, who used to be a CBS sportscaster, was here for the '500' one year, and I didn't plan on attending. He told me, 'How can you not go to the race if you live here?' He said he couldn't imagine living here and not going to the race because he thought the first lap of the race was the greatest moment in sports. And he's a guy that's been all around the world covering sports, and yet, to him, the start of the '500' was the most spine-tingling event in sports. That kind of stayed with me."

MARIO ANDRETTI (1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, 1965 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, 1978 Formula One World Champion): "Tony Hulman's vision brought open-wheel racing in America to the highest level it enjoys in modern times, all due to the immense popularity of the Indianapolis 500. The 60th anniversary is a milestone for the Hulman family that is appreciated by racing fans all over the world."

EVAN BAYH (U.S. Senator, Indiana, 1998-present; Indiana governor, 1989-97): "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is rooted firmly in Hoosier history and reflects our state's long relationship with the auto industry, innovation and sports. Sixty years ago, Tony Hulman saved this famous institution from oblivion. Today, under the leadership of the Mari George and Tony George, it is the acknowledged motorsports capital of the world. The Hulman-George family's roots in Indiana go back to 1850, and their family businesses are still providing good-paying jobs for Hoosiers and motorsports entertainment for the world."

TOM CARNEGIE (Public address announcer, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1946-present): "They have given me an interest above and beyond what I would ordinarily expect in any endeavor. I have seen their generosity at work. They have been kind and gentle to me. They have brought a magic to auto racing that did not exist prior to their buying the track. They're very strong people. They are all very quiet people. Very assertive, but in a quiet way. They have brought the Indianapolis 500 into their hearts in a way that I don't think any other family would or could do. I like the fact they have preserved the family atmosphere as opposed to a giant corporation taking it over. Tony (Hulman), there are a couple of things that I really appreciated about him. He introduced me to the (Kentucky) Derby down in Louisville years ago. He took me along with his family down there to see the Derby. It was an experience that I always remembered. Early on, in the first few years, he took me to Milwaukee to see the auto race there. On those trips, I found him very warm and generous. A true sportsman. That was the first thing I heard about him, way back when the Hulman family bought it, was the fact that he was an athlete from a wealthy family who was an unknown in the state of Indiana. But he soon captured our hearts with his quiet demeanor and his generosity toward the fans. I always felt in the early days that the fans were given too many privileges at the '500.' They were able to see a race car, touch a race car and get close and get autographs from drivers. I thought maybe it was a little too generous. But then I saw later on the building of that new track, beautiful structure out there in (Ontario) California, 2.5-mile track. I figured that would be very successful. Well, it wasn't. Customers didn't get close to the racetrack, were not permitted. They were distant in the stands. I determined then that one of the reasons for the success of the '500' was Tony's generosity and keeping a warmth to the event that was missing at other rac etracks. I think those who work for him and the members of his family that are on the scene now have carried on the traditions that he established."

JOIE CHITWOOD (President and chief operating officer, Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It is a pleasure to work for a family that takes great pride in its ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Under the stewardship of the Hulman-George family, the Speedway is truly recognized as the Racing Capital of the World. They know and understand what the Speedway means to the state of Indiana and to fans around the world. Through their continued investment back into the property, the Hulman-George family has built a sports landmark for which its employees, its fans and community can be proud."

MITCH DANIELS (Governor, Indiana, 2005-present): "Sixty years ago, Tony Hulman rescued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, setting in motion an enterprise that is unique in America and the world. The devotion to the sport, the passion for the business, and the nurture and protection of an idea live on vitally in the succeeding generations of the Hulman-George family. Throughout these 60 years, the IMS organization has been the very model of corporate citizenship -- asking little and giving much. And it continues to be the lens that magnifies its own economic importance as the center of automotive research and the growing motorsports industry. Indiana is proud to be home to this ongoing masterpiece and looks forward to the next 60 years of innovative leadership."

BERNIE ECCLESTONE (Chief executive officer, Formula One Management Ltd.): "Certainly, what they've done over the years for motorsport, Indianapolis is a worldwide name people know exactly what it's about. That's the very reason we've tried to do something with Tony in the first place. That's what I've been happy about, is the effort they've made. Not only for us, but for everything that goes on there. The family are really, really dedicated to motorsport. It means that we have got a home in the USA, which is what we've been looking for. It is our home now. The way I look at it, they are dedicated to the sport. If it doesn't make money, obviously it's not going to continue. But it's not their prime object. Their prime object is to fill the seats, as many as they can, and to give good value to the people that come to the Speedway. It's really their dedication to motorsport that's important."

CHRIS ECONOMAKI (Editor emeritus, National Speed Sport News): "I feel the American sports fan, in general, and the auto racing fan in particular were blessed when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was purchased by Tony Hulman. That purchase signaled an escalation of interest in American auto racing never before seen or anticipated. The years that the track has been owned by this group of people has seen auto racing emerge as perhaps the number-one spectator sport in the United States due in great part to the prestige and quality of the operations of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its Indianapolis 500. In recent years, races have been added. Each one added to the prestige of the track and added to the emergence of auto racing as an important sport in these United States. I give credit to the Hulman-George family for continuing this great tradition. There are a lot of other memories and so forth, all of which are positive. The improvements of the track, the constant grandstand building, the increase in spectator capacity and the advent of television, which I was a part of. All of which tended to build the image and the prestige of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thanks to the Hulman-George family."

A.J. FOYT (First four-time Indianapolis 500 winner): "They had an impact on the whole world of motorsports, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To me, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just like the Kentucky Derby, there is only one. There will never be but one. That's one thing that has made NASCAR what it is today, too, having the Brickyard race there. I think the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is known all over the world. You have a lot of great races, but regardless of where you go, everyone knows the Indianapolis 500. Mari and I are the same age, so I've known them ever since I started coming up there in 1957 and 1958. I'm not part of the family, but my kids and her kids are all a year or two apart, and we've spent a lot of Christmases together. When I was sleeping in the back seat of cars early in my career, they gave me a place to sleep. Anthony IV went up to Josie's ranch in Wyoming recently and was up there hunting for a couple of weeks. It is hard to forget things like that, but that's just the way the family is. Mr. Hulman, I just admire him for what he's done through the years."

BILL FRANCE JR. (Vice chairman, NASCAR): "The Hulman-George family and my family have a lot in common. We've both been around racing a long time, and we've both been involved with some great facilities. Indianapolis has obviously been important in the growth of motorsports overall, and from a NASCAR perspective, Indy has helped our sport grow. When we started racing at the Brickyard in 1994, it helped introduce NASCAR -- or in some cases re-introduce NASCAR -- to a new group of fans. It was a good move for NASCAR. And while it has helped us, I think it has helped Indianapolis Motor Speedway immensely."

JAMES GARNER (Actor, three-time Indianapolis 500 Pace Car driver): "Although I can't remember the year, I will never forget my first visit to Indy. I was sitting with Tony Hulman in his box at Turn 1 and watched, for the very first time, 33 cars seemingly coming straight at me. It was a frightening and mesmerizing moment; I was stunned, and Tony just sat there grinning. The Hulman-George family has always treated me like family; I feel the same toward them and send them my very heartfelt congratulations on this 60th anniversary of their exemplary stewardship of the Speedway."

ANDY GRANATELLI (Indianapolis 500-winning team owner): "I met Anton Hulman in 1946. In those days, I had a garage in Chicago, a speed shop. We entered our first car at Indianapolis. I fell in love with the Speedway. It was the first racetrack I'd ever been to. I called June Swingle, who was then Tony's secretary, and asked to set up a meeting with him, and he set up the meeting with me. This was in June or July of '46. I had known he had paid $750,000 at the Speedway. He told me to meet him at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis, and I did. Of course, I had my white mechanic's overalls on. Imagine going into the Columbia Club like that. I asked him to buy the Speedway. I told him I'd give him a million dollars for it. I didn't have the million dollars, but if he said yes, I would have done everything in the world to get the money. He was a gentleman and said it wasn't for sale. Ironically, in the 60s, I again offered to buy the Speedway. I offered him $20 million for it. He told me at that time that the track wasn't for sale but if it was for sale, he would sell it to me. Of course, since then the price has skyrocketed into God knows what it is today. He was always a gentleman extraordinaire. He always had an ear for whatever I had to say. He was a very lovable man. I enjoyed him very much throughout the years. They (Hulman-George family) are all very quiet. They're not Granatellis, let's put it that way. They put their money where their mouth is and they built the track to what it should be, and they've shown the world the way to go. If it wasn't for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, motorsports wouldn't be the number one spectator sport in the world today. Indianapolis was the one name that everybody in the world knew about. That's what brought everybody into racing. There wouldn't be all of these modern-era tracks if it wasn't for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

JANET GUTHRIE (First female driver in Indianapolis 500): "Tony's saving of the Speedway after World War II is widely known and was a key element in the development of American motorsports. The positioning of the Indianapolis 500 has made many people think of it as the only race. I was very privileged to have met Tony in 1976. Mari Hulman George is a great lady."

DAVEY HAMILTON (Two-time IndyCar Series runner-up): "The Hulman-George family has really stepped up to the next level. They have the race in the world. The Indy 500 is the race to see, and they've continued that tradition to where the Indy 500 is the event. It continues to get stronger every year. Yearly, they don't sit stagnant. They continue improving the facility. For example, bringing Formula One in. To be able to make the course and the garages to those standards is truly impressive. The facility is state of the art, not just for the drivers and teams, but for the fans, as well. In general, what they have done for motorsports in starting the Indy Racing League, without that particular series, I never would have had the opportunity to compete in IndyCar racing. I would not have had two runner-up finishes in an open-wheel series on my record. The family put that program together and let the grassroots racers get back involved in IndyCar racing. With what I went through in 2001 with the injuries I sustained, they were there every step of the way. They are my friends, and I enjoyed being around the family. I consider them friends and not just business partners. They were there for me in the hospital. When things didn't go right in my recovery, they were there for all the tough parts. They did not forget about me, and you can't ever forget something like that."

FLORENCE HENDERSON (Actress, singer, sings 'God Bless America' as part of Indianapolis 500 pre-race ceremonies):: "I have been privileged to know the Hulman-George family for many years and have participated in the Indy 500 and other great events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Hulman-George family are outstanding professionals, but what makes them even more special is that they are outstanding human beings. Happy 60th anniversary!"

BOB JENKINS (Veteran broadcaster, former IMS Radio Network 'Voice of the 500'): "I grew up about 70 miles east of Indianapolis. I don't know how I learned about the Indianapolis 500, but from the moment I heard about it, I was fascinated with it. Fortunately, I was able to come to the Speedway for time trials in 1958 and was able to come to my first '500' in 1960. The place before I visited it was something special to me. It's always been a mecca to me. And despite the fact I have been going to the Indy 500 since 1960, with the exception of two years, every year is just as exciting or more exciting, really, than the previous year. Their ability to keep pace with customer comfort, while maintaining the tradition of the Speedway, is very commendable. That's what the Hulman-George family has meant to me: Keeping the Indianapolis 500 and the Speedway current, yet maintaining some of the traditions that have been going on as long as I have been coming to the Speedway. It's unique because it is a family type of situation. Tony is able to gather a staff that does do all of the necessary things from year to year to make the Indianapolis 500 what it is. I think one of the other things for me is that they don't necessarily run the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because it's a business. They love auto racing. I have a picture in my office at home of Mari Hulman George when she owned a sprint car, and she's pictured with Jerry Hoyt, the driver of the car. Of course, her marriage into racing is a perfect example: They're race fans, they know what race fans want from a facility, and they have been able to do that down through the years."

JOHN LIVENGOOD (President and CEO, Restaurant and Hospitality Association of Indiana): "I can't think of anyone else who has done more for this community than the Hulman-George family. The facility and attraction that they have built is the number one economic engine in Indianapolis. To have the equivalent of three Super Bowls is wonderful for the entire city. We are lucky that the family tradition has been maintained by the current leadership. The community is very fortunate to have a leader like Tony George with his ability to adapt and change to the world around him."

RICHARD G. LUGAR (U.S. senator, Indiana, 1976-present; Indianapolis mayor, 1968-75): (This statement was entered into the U.S. Congressional Record on Nov. 3): "Mr. President, I am pleased to rise today to recognize the important leadership of the Hulman-George family throughout their 60 years of stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am honored to have this opportunity to congratulate them on reaching this signal milestone on Nov. 14, 2005. The Hulman-George family members have been remarkable champions of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana through their hosting of what many consider to be the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500. In recent years, they have also hosted the Brickyard 400 and the United States Grand Prix, remarkable events that bring people from around the world to Indianapolis to experience true Hoosier hospitality. I have especially enjoyed a close relationship with the Hulman-George family, which began when I was mayor of Indianapolis. My wife, Char, and I would take our four boys to the track for activities throughout the month of May. On May 16, 1981, I first had the opportunity to participate in another great tradition at the Speedway when we gathered to celebrate the annual Armed Forces Induction Ceremony. This event came about because recruitment was low, and members of our community were looking for a creative way to celebrate the decision of Hoosier men and women to serve our country in the armed forces. To address this dilemma, the Hulman-George family offered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a backdrop for an enlistment ceremony. Anyone who enlisted during the month of May would be a part of the Tony Hulman Squadron and would fly away from the infield to basic training. While the ceremony has evolved over the ensuing years, it remains special to me because it offers an excellent opportunity to celebrate the patriotism of so many talented and dedicated young Hoosiers. As race fans gather in Indianapolis to cheer their favorite drivers on to victory, I am h opeful that they will take a moment to reflect upon the years of dedicated leadership that the Hulman-George family has provided in the Indianapolis community, leadership that has helped to make Indianapolis the motorsports capital of world. Like so many of my fellow Hoosiers, I am grateful that the Hulman-George family continues to call Indiana its home."

BILL McGOWAN (Former president and CEO, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association): "I went to the 1946 Indy 500 with my dad, and we sat in the first turn. My family goes pretty far back with the Hulman-George family. I feel three families, the Lilly family, the Hulman-George family and the Simon family, what they have done for the city of Indianapolis is unprecedented. What the family has done in terms of how they improve the Speedway every year is just unbelievable, the money they put back into it. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the finest sports venue in the world. Period. I have been to Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Stockholm Olympic stadium. I have been to quite a few sports venues in the world, and there's nothing even close to it. Everyone has a symphony, everyone has a zoo, everyone has a museum, but only one city in the world has the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that's the uniqueness of Indianapolis. The families like the Hulman-George family are what have made Indianapolis what it is today."

JIM NABORS (Actor, singer, sings 'Back Home Again in Indiana' as part of Indianapolis 500 pre-race ceremonies): "Motorsports racing would not be enjoying the popularity and success it is today if not for the vision, determination and generosity of the Hulman-George family. Each generation has made considerable contributions. It has been my honor and true pleasure to know the Hulman-George family and to be part of the Indianapolis 500 tradition."

ROGER S. PENSKE (Chairman, Penske Racing, Inc., winner of record 13 Indianapolis 500's): "Tony Hulman was someone I got to know during my early stages at the Speedway. He reached out for me and said how much he appreciated Penske Racing coming to the Speedway. One thing that stands out with Mr. Hulman is that he was genuinely interested in our success and, I believe, the success of all the competitors."

BART PETERSON (Mayor, Indianapolis, 2000-present): "The Hulman George family's impact on the City of Indianapolis goes far beyond the boundaries of 16th Street and Georgetown Road. They have brought the Speedway back from the shadow of a wrecking ball 60 years ago to a premier racing facility that benefits all of central Indiana, hosting several prestigious racing and philanthropic events throughout the year. They attract the best and the brightest to Indianapolis through their racing events and related conventions, new industries and jobs. Their work has made a remarkable impact on our economy and quality of life. They help make us a city that stands out from the crowd, a more fun and interesting place to live and visit. A few years ago, our city animal shelter was in desperate need of an air conditioning system to make the facility both healthy and bearable during warm weather. Mari Hulman George stepped up and contributed $50,000 to this effort. This is just one example of their commitment to their own community. The Hulman George family has played a significant role in making Indianapolis what it is today -- a world-class city. We are so fortunate to have them call Indianapolis home."

RICHARD PETTY (Seven-time NASCAR champion, seven-time Daytona 500 winner): "It doesn't matter what the sport is or what the business is, for that matter, you need the people who do the day-to-day stuff really well and you also need the visionaries, the ones who can see 10 or 20 or 30 years down the road and realize what needs to be done. I'd put the Hulman-George family definitely in the visionary category. Look at the Brickyard 400. They worked against tradition to do something that needed to be done, that was good not just for stock car racing but good for all of racing. There were a lot of people supporting them, but there were a lot of people not supporting them, too. Still, they realized what needed to be done, and they did it. The Indianapolis 500 is always going to be the Indianapolis 500. That's never going to change. But now the Brickyard 400 will always be the Brickyard 400, and that's always going to be a major race in our form of motorsports. Bringing the Formula One guys in, no matter what the problems might have been for one race, is good for racing in this country -- and it's good for all of us, whether you are NASCAR or Indy car or whatever. The sport has always needed visionaries, and the Hulman-George family is definitely that."

SIR JACKIE STEWART (1966 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, three-time Formula One World Champion, ABC Sports broadcaster of Indianapolis 500): "In the United States, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is probably as well known as any sports facility there is. Part of it because it is apple pie and ice cream, the Indy 500. It's been going since 1911. So the Speedway, because of the spectacular actions that happened there, suddenly became the focus of America. Because of Memorial Day weekend, it was an event that grew and grew in stature. Tony Hulman, in the state of Indiana, was a major player because of his business interest, because he was a highly successful man, but he was a man of all people, which I think was one of the most attractive things about him. Because motor racing, unlike most other American sports, motorsports is global. Tony Hulman's name, the Hulman family name, was synonymous with Indianapolis and the Indy 500. It became well recognized around the world. When I came to the Indy 500 in '66, Tony Hulman was a major magnet. Mrs. Hulman was very highly thought of, and the two of them were high-profile. That year I got the Rookie of the Year, and we then went to Mount Fuji, to Japan, to race. Tony came with us. We had to go to America, the European drivers, in order to go on the same charter that all the American crews, teams, drivers, engineers, mechanics, etc., were on. And Tony Hulman came along on that. There wasn't a question of Tony Hulman going on another plane and traveling first class. He was traveling in the back with everybody else. It was a charter flight. There wasn't any first class. Tony was always dressed in a suit, he was very conservative, very quiet, very modest, but the name Tony Hulman was some big name around the world. All (Hulman-George family members) are quiet; all are unassuming and very modest. I remember going to Terre Haute for the sprint car race, going with Jim McKay and all the guys to do television after I retired as a driver. Terre Haute was one of the big sprint car races, and again, Tony Hulman was right there. He was right in the middle of it all. He was there in the local gymnasium for the dinner the night before the race, with the auction for the drivers. Mary used to come around with him, as well. The whole family were part and parcel of it. It was very much a family affair. Tony George is very much like his grandfather in the sense that Tony is a very low-profile man. He doesn't like to be highlighted. It's a typical modesty. I'm enchanted by the whole family. I just think it's a great family."

TONY STEWART (1996 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, 1996-97 IndyCar Series champion, 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner, 2002 NASCAR champion): "To see the history of auto racing and know the Hulman-George family's name, you know how influential they've been in auto racing through years of switchovers from AAA running the Indy 500 to USAC and then from USAC going to the IRL sanctioning the race. Bringing NASCAR to a worldwide facility like Indy and bringing Formula One back to the United States and bringing them to a premier facility like Indy while still being able to keep the atmosphere of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the history and the heritage of it, that's been a huge chore. To preserve the past but protect the present and the future and try to make things bigger and better, I think they've done a great job. Obviously, Tony George and Mari Hulman George have been pioneers in motorsports and have become very influential along the way in making all this happen. Any time you can get a family like that that's been involved in racing for so long and be able to do the things that they've done, you really have to stop and take your hat off to them and recognize their accomplishments in what they've been able to do."

DAN WHELDON (2005 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2005 IndyCar Series champion): "The Hulman-George family is an integral part of American motorsports. To me, personally, they are very special because of the racetrack they purchased and the race that they put on there every year. The Indianapolis 500 is my favorite race and one that I love to do. To think that I'm a winner there among a lot of great names is unbelievable. What the Hulman-George family continues to do for American motor racing is a huge asset for the sport. The Indianapolis 500 is a truly great event, and one that everyone in the world should be proud of, not just Americans, and I'm thankful to the Hulman-George family for that."


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About this article
Series Vintage , IndyCar , NASCAR , USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Davey Hamilton , Jackie Stewart , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Richard Petty , Janet Guthrie , Tony George , Bernie Ecclestone , A.J. Foyt
Teams Team Penske