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DATE News (chronologically)
02/24/11
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Fans remain leery Tony George's return will spell doom for IndyCar
Anton 'Tony- I am Indy' George, the man blamed for nearly destroying the sport of IndyCar racing, is back.
Revolution and talks of regime change swirl around the Middle East these days.

It wasn't too long ago that open-wheel racing in the United States had its own Civil War. Champ Car and the Indy Racing League fought for more than a decade before it was settled in 2008 under the IRL umbrella, now called INDYCAR.

Tony George, open-wheel racing's most polarizing figure during that split, is back in the picture and sparking a lot of debate on Internet blogs and other social media.

George was recently reinstated to the board of directors of his family-run Hulman & Company corporation which owns and operates, among other things, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IZOD INDYCAR Series.

George was at the center of the initial divide. He started the Indy Racing League in 1996, which stumbled out of the gate. George sank lots of Hulman & Company money into his series to keep it afloat and the division he created led to a rapid decline in the popularity of open-wheel racing in the United States.

George served on the board of Hulman & Company and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during that time before resigning from both, under family pressure, in 2009.

His departure went a long way toward healing the split. If you read the blog posts of INDYCAR race fans, however, his return seems to have already opened new wounds.

George doesn't have any direct control over INDYCAR, for now, and there is no indication he will pursue that. So it may be presumptuous to think George will lead a coup or create an upheaval in the INDYCAR Series.

His re-emergence does raise some concern as just last summer, George, according to a Speed.com report, made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase INDYCAR.

INDYCAR has been on an upswing since Randy Bernard was hired as its CEO a year ago. The most recent of his positive steps was announced Tuesday -- a promotion in which fans who buy a ticket to any IZOD INDYCAR race during the season will receive a free ticket to its final race at Las Vegas on Oct. 16. Bernard is also offering a $5 million bonus to anyone outside the series who wins the race.

Let's just hope George's ambitions don't cast another dark cloud over open-wheel racing. Star-Gazette

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