INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski

IndyCar owners sell company that created Hulman family fortune

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INDIANAPOLIS – Without Clabber Girl Baking Power making the Hulman family of Terre Haute, Indiana, into one of the wealthiest families in Indiana in the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, there probably wouldn’t be an Indianapolis 500 in existence today.

That is why Wednesday morning’s news that Hulman & Company was selling Clabber Girl to B&G Foods of Parsippany, New Jersey, was important.

The Clabber Girl brand allowed Tony Hulman to purchase the dilapidated and shuttered Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker in November 1945 and build the Indianapolis 500 into the world’s largest single-day sporting event beginning in 1946.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 and began hosting the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1911. With the exception of skipping a year during World War I, it ran every Memorial Day until World War II shut down the facility from 1942-45.

“The Hulman-George family takes great pride in the Clabber Girl brand’s success, history and critical role in the development and rich cultural fabric of Terre Haute,” Hulman & Company chairman Anton Hulman “Tony” George said. “Clabber Girl will always be a cherished and celebrated part of our legacy, and we’re excited we’ve found a strong steward for its very bright future.”

B&G Foods, Inc. (NYSE: BGS), is a leading manufacturer, seller and distributor of shelf-stable and frozen foods across North America.

“Our core focus is the pursuit of world-class motorsports competition and entertainment,” Hulman & Company president and CEO Mark Miles said. “This decision positions us to fully focus on the continued direction and growth of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions. It also provides Clabber Girl with a well-prepared owner ready to use its vast expertise and considerable resources to accelerate the growth of the newest member of its impressive portfolio.”

Like Clabber Girl, B&G Foods has spent more than a century in the food business. The company maintains more than 50 brands and 2,500 employees across North America. This includes Ortega, Green Giant, Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Dash, Back to Nature and many others.

“We are excited to join the B&G Foods family as we add our iconic Clabber Girl brand to its impressive portfolio of brands consumers both recognize and trust,” Clabber Girl president and COO Gary Morris said. “Clabber Girl will benefit from the knowledge and reach B&G Foods will provide as a seasoned food manufacturer and distributor. Together, we will continue to grow this historic business.”

Guggenheim Securities, LLC acted as Hulman & Company’s financial advisor for this transaction.

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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