Currently executive vice president for administration and operations of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Co., Terre Haute native Jeff Belskus first met Tony George while he attended Terre Haute South Vigo High School and George attended Schulte High School. They became better acquainted as they both attended Indiana State University. Belskus majored in accounting and became a certified public accountant; he first began working for the speedway in 1987. At 37, the same age as Tony, Belskus now lives in Indianapolis and shares an occasional game of golf with his friend and boss. ``I consider myself very fortunate to work with Tony and his family. They're a very good group of people and they've been very good to me,'' he said. Belskus is among several Terre Haute natives who work at the speedway Ï others include Curt Brighton, vice president and general counsel; Peggy Swalls, vice president for administration; Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction; Kent Liffick, director of event promotions; and Gloria Novotney, director of credentials. Novotney is also secretary of the Wabash Valley Broadcasting Corp., which owns WTHI-TV and radio.
President of the United States Auto Club when it was first formed, from 1956-69, Indianapolis native Tom Binford was chief steward of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1973-95. He met Tony Hulman in the early 1950s, when he was a race car sponsor. Binford remembers one of the few times he saw Tony get aggravated, when speedway workers would put up fences to block off Gasoline Alley from the pits so cars could move through without the worry of running into visitors. ``He didn't like that at all Ï any time he caught those fences up, he took them down again. He thought the public should be back there.'' Binford said Tony saw the speedway as a public trust rather than a moneymaker, and he enjoyed working for Tony, whom he said never second-guessed his decisions. ``People fell in love with the track and with Tony. I guess I was one of them,'' he said.
CART faction reps
When Tony George announced in November 1995 that 25 of the 33 starting positions for the 1996 Indianapolis 500 would be reserved for participants of the Indianapolis Racing League Ï which he formed and helped finance to rival the Championship Auto Racing Teams Circuit Ï several CART powers spoke out against the move. Michael Andretti said he thought Tony was ``paranoid,'' while car owner Chip Ganassi said Tony's actions ``go against tradition.'' He said the step created an ``uneven playing field,'' adding, ``At our races, anybody who shows up can qualify.''
Four-term Terre Haute mayor P. Pete Chalos left office in 1995. During his time at top official in City Hall, he threatened to condemn the hotel in March 1984 in an effort to force sale of the property, then joined the city in hoping that negotiations with two different prospective buyers would succeed. In November 1993, Chalos traveled to The Walden Inn in Greencastle to being talks with Walden officials about renovating the hotel; in August 1995, The Walden Group Inc. signed a purchase agreement with Hulman & Co. proposing to buy the hotel once financing is completed, but that deal fell through in January due to financing. During his time as mayor, Chalos also saw the old Hulman & Co. furniture store at Eighth and Cherry leased by the family to the state as a state office building and threatened to condemn the family-owned Terminal Arcade Building, which was later renovated.
Sister Barbara Doherty
As president of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Doherty deals with the Hulman George family through annual contributions to the college, as well as the Mary Fendrich Hulman Scholarship and the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies, which brings the college more students and is home of the annual Fall Classic. During the 1995 Fall Classic, Josie George, an avid motorcycle rider, convinced Doherty to join her on her 1995 Softtail Harley-Davidson. ``I have ridden on three motorcycles in my life,'' Doherty stressed.
Joseph F. George
The son of Elmer George by his first marriage, Joseph F. George works with his half-brother, Tony George, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Joseph George was formerly vice president of the Terre Haute Realty Corp., which is headquartered in Corporate Square at 2901 Ohio Blvd. Joseph George, who has two daughters, lives in Indianapolis.
Currently vice president of Hulman & Co. and president of Hulco Sales Corp., which does business as Clabber Girl Baking Powder Co., Rumford Baking Powder Co. and KC Baking Powder Co., Bob Hippleheuser began working for the company in 1951 as a salesman in the wholesale grocery division; he was part of the sales force in Waco, Texas, and remembers putting up many a Clabber Girl sign on country fences. His grandfather, Charles Hippleheuser, had been a salesman in the Vincennes territory. A German immigrant, Charles Hippleheuser had a grocery store in Jasonville in the 1920s and '30s. Bob Hippleheuser has been vice president of Hulman & Co. since 1985.
While he was Indiana secretary of state in 1989, Joe Hogsett was raising funds for the Hoosiers for Hogsett Committee; the funds would be used to help him retain his post in the 1990 election. Mari Hulman George hosted a fund-raising reception for Hogsett on Sept. 20, 1989, at Lingen Lodge on the family's property east of Terre Haute. After successfully retaining his post, Hogsett in 1992 unsuccessfully challenged incumbent U.S. Senator Dan Coats. For those elections, Mari George gave $500 to Hoosiers for Hogsett Ï but also $650 to Dan Coats for Indiana, $1,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and $2,000 to the Republican National Committee. That year, Mary Fendrich Hulman donated $500 and $300 to Hoosiers for Hogsett and $1,600 to Dan Coats for Indiana, in addition to a $1,000 donation to the National Republican Congressional Commmittee.
James R. Jenkins
While he was attending Indiana State University, current Terre Haute Mayor James R. Jenkins worked for Hulman & Co. for about a year in 1970. On the second floor of the building at Ninth and Wabash, he filled orders for grocery stores. Paul Eggerman, the father of a friend of Jenkins who worked there, Dan Eggerman, worked for the company many years grinding coffee and spices, Jenkins said. While also interested in making the Terre Haute House a vital part of the downtown once again, Jenkins said he would never condemn the property to force its development. ``This is the United States of America Ï you have the right to maintain and own property as you see fit. As long as that property is maintained and is not a danger and the taxes are paid on it .|.|. it is private property, and I think that privacy should be respected,'' he said. Jenkins thinks Tony Hulman's gift of $100,000 to purchase property to build Hulman Regional Airport upon was the family's most important gift to the community.
Four-term U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a Republican, has received several donations from the Hulman George family. For Lugar's race for the Republican nomination for president in 1996, the Lugar For President Committee received $1,000 from Mary Fendrich Hulman and $500 from Hulman family relative Donald E. Smith. For the 1994 elections in which Lugar won election to his fourth Senate term, Mary Fendrich Hulman donated $1,000 to Friends of Dick Lugar, while Mari Hulman George gave $1,000 to Friends of Dick Lugar and $500 to the Republican National Committee. In 1992, Mary Fendrich Hulman gave $550 to Friends of Dick Lugar.
Press secretary for eight years for former Gov. Evan Bayh, Nation in January was named director of corporate communications for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and related corporations. Previously Nation, a Terre Haute native, had served as press secretary for Bayh's father, Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh, in 1979-80. While at the Terre Haute Spectator, Nation wrote extensively about the Hulman family, including coverage of Tony Hulman's funeral and an interview with Mary Fendrich Hulman a year after his death.
Donald E. Smith
Chief executive officer of Terre Haute First National Bank and CEO of First Financial Corp., the state's 11th-largest bank holding corporation, Don Smith is related to the Hulman George family through his great-aunt, Grace Ada Smith, who married Anton Hulman Sr. on Jan. 10, 1900. He looked up to Tony Hulman as a mentor and the two shared a love of sports, particularly football. Smith also has a close business relationship with the family; control of First Financial rests in the hands of a 15-member board of directors that holds more than 11 percent of the company's stock, and Smith, Tony George and Mari Hulman George are all on that board. Also, Mary Fendrich Hulman holds 11.86 percent of the corporation's stock, while the Princeton Mining Co. holds 9.57 percent; the mining company is headed by Smith's family. Another Smith company, Deep Vein Coal Co. Inc., features Tony George as vice-president and Mari Hulman George as director, as does Smith family company R.J. Oil Co. Inc.