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When You're Born Rich

I recently read The Spheres of Heaven, a sci-fi novel by Charles Sheffield. In it, a woman character, basically a concubine, explains to the engineer of a space ship about the captain, a rich egocentric know-it-all, who decided to take a nap during a perilous situation.

"Let me explain something to you," she says. "When you're born rich, you don't do things. You buy things. And those things include more than material objects. You buy people. You buy services. You buy reassurance. He bought your services, so he expects you to save the ship and him and find a way home. Why shouldn't he sleep easy?"

When I read that passage, I immediately thought of Tony George. (Then, I thought of a few other born rich brats I have to deal with in my racing.) After all, what has Tony George ever done? Just buy things. And people. And services. And sometimes reassurance.

This was never more evident as it was on that fateful Wednesday, January 28, 2004 when two forces collided head on in an Indianapolis, Indiana Federal Bankruptcy Court.

Tony George tried to buy control of open wheel racing in North America. He did not try to create it. He did not want to merge or unify open wheel racing. He said so himself: "I'm not interested in any kind of merger now that they've got those assets."

Because to do so would mean, in his own words, "I'm not interested in giving up the equity we've got in the IRL." Of course not. People who are born rich do not give up anything. They buy things.

And of course, they buy people. Fred Nation. Brian Barnhart. Even Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske. All bought by Tony George, even if it was through Toyota and Honda.

They buy reassurance. How else can you explain the following quotes of hypocrisy.

Team Penske president Tim Cindric: "Everyone came out a loser today. We'll be that way until everyone has a common direction." You mean like the way your team changed direction?

Michael Andretti: "I guess (OWRS) will have their series, and we'll have ours. What else is there?" How about acknowledging what made you who you are? And, the only reason you are where you are right at this moment is because you were bought.

Helio Castroneves: "It's a shame, that's what it is. I think politics could have been put aside a little and something could have come about that was good." Want to drop politics and do something good, Helio? How about admit the truth -- that you were passed before the yellow flag by Paul Tracy.

The best one of all, A.J. Foyt: "There are too many egos there to lose. When CART started, it was a fantastic organization. But too many car owners put their two cents' worth in, and they ruined it -- just like today." Oh, boy, where do we start with this one? How about when Foyt originally signed up to join CART back at the start, he immediately changed his mind, stuck with USAC, and ripped CART at every opportunity he could. Now, he suddenly says it was a great organization? Foyt is complaining about other people's egos? I think only Pete Rose can top Foyt in the ego department. What's this about owners' input ruining things? How about all the whispering you do in your godson's ear that has helped destroy the sport?

All that transpired over the past couple of weeks is just more proof that Tony George was never about the good of the sport or unification or settling the split (which he created, for crying out loud). Yes, we've said it countless times, but it bears repeating once again. It's all about power, control, and ego.

People who are born rich don't do things. They buy things. And, Tony George has been trying to buy control of open wheel racing ever since he took over the reigns of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This time, though, he couldn't buy a judge.

Copyright © 2004 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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