Editorial

ISC is making enemies in Miami

 by Mark Cipolloni
March 7, 2002

Go to our forums to discuss this article

The wealthy France family and the wealthy Penske family are the major shareholders in International Speedway Corporation (ISC), owners of numerous large superspeedways in the USA, including Daytona and Homestead (just south of Miami) in Florida.  When ISC got wind of the news that ALMS and CART might be racing in the streets of Miami again, things got ugly in a hurry.

As the saying goes, the rich get richer....and in this case it's at the expense of the tax payers.  For example, did you know that Daytona Speedway is in a special tax-exempt district in Daytona in spite of the fact that they make millions in profits every year?  That's right, Daytona Speedway pays no taxes because it argues that the benefits it brings to Daytona in tourism far exceed the taxes the Speedway would pay.  It's been that way since the track was built in the 50's.  So when Daytona tried to impose taxes on Daytona Speedway recently, ISC cried foul and won.

ISC representatives are constantly going to the legislature in Florida asking for, and getting, more and more subsidies from the local government, while the poor tax payer must always pay.

Except for Watkins Glen, a natural terrain road course, ISC is in the business of putting on oval track races.  And it's the best in the business at doing it. They also run some oval track infield road races that draw small crowds.  Ironically, however, when they saw that Raceworks might move into their Dade County turf in southern Florida with a downtown Miami street race, all of a sudden they became very interested.

ISC, hiding behind Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC, which it owns, has done everything in their power to stop the Miami street race, including making contradicting public statements.  They have written legal letters to create bad publicity around the event, tried to stop them from getting building permits, opposed them getting licensure, took out full page ads in the Miami papers denouncing the event, and even pressured Brian Redman to not bring his historic racing series in for the weekends events with the ALMS and TransAm.

In deposition by Curtis Gray, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC, he admitted Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC paid for several advertisements arguing against racing in the streets of the City of Miami, saying "street races are financial failures."  Their lobbying efforts led to the City of Homestead to pass a resolution on June 4, 2001 opposing a street race in the City.

On July 10, 2001 Jorge Lopez, their attorney, spoke to the City of Miami Commission advising them against a street race in Miami.  At that same City Commission meeting, the City Manager of the City of Homestead testified that she believed that a street race in the City of Miami would hurt the City of Homestead (Miami City Commission transcript dated July 26, 2001)

Miami has been hurt bad by the recent recession, their tourism has been down dramatically.  They were counting on this race to bring them some badly needed tourist dollars and international exposure.  ISC is contesting a contract that will have a huge impact on the tourism and economic revitalization of the downtown Miami area at a time when those businesses in that area have been ravaged by the 9/11 terrorist impacts on travel and tourism.  They recently went on record saying they demanded an opportunity to bid on the race and it was unfairly awarded to Raceworks without going out to bid.  At all the prior City Commission meetings they never stated they wanted an opportunity to bid for the race in Miami.

 




As can be seen from these Friday photos at Homestead last weekend, not many are interested in attending ISC's Homestead track.  Saturday's crowd, even with all the Marlboro ticket giveaways, was light.

Why would an oval track company want to bid on an event that months earlier they stated would lose money?  Why?  Because it's ISC pushing their weight around to protect their track in Homestead, which, except for their Winston Cup date, has been a financial disaster.  My sources in Miami tell me they sold about 15,000 tickets for last weekends IRL race and 10,000 of those were bought by Marlboro, the sponsor of.....who else?  Roger Penske, who is a major shareholder in.....what else?  ISC. 

The fact is that ISC is having a hard time making a success out of the Homestead track (an oval) yet they think they can now do a good job putting on a street race, a type of racing they said are financial disasters.  In Homestead their track was originally a lease deal, but they persuaded Homestead to change it to a licensing deal so they would not have to pay any taxes, claiming they were losing money and needed the tax breaks, this from a poor town that needs every tax dollar they can get.  Wealthy ISC, paying no taxes, just like in Daytona.

Ironically, their Homestead track was built by Ralph Sanchez (and later sold to Roger Penske who sold it to ISC) with post Hurricane Andrew relief fund grants and bonds that are paid back from hotel taxes, 40% of which are derived in the City of Miami.  In other words, ISC is getting free money from Miami taxes to pay for their race track, yet are doing everything in their power to deny the City of Miami the rewards that come with having a race of their own.  Sounds rather hypocritical if you ask me.

And this has infuriated the City Of Miami Mayor.  He's now on the attack to win at all costs, especially when ISC was successful Monday in getting the Miami-Dade District judge to rule the Raceworks contract null and void because it was not put out to competitive bid.  When was the last time ISC built a track whereby they had to bid for it?

One things for certain, Chris Pook would not have put CART's name and reputation on the Miami race Tuesday, if he wasn't certain of victory over the wealthy ISC corporation's attempts to undermine the people of Miami, Raceworks, the Hispanic race fans of Miami, and ALMS and CART.  It's no secret that there have been numerous complaints of lack of promotion of CART races at ISC venues (most have failed), and that ISC has developed close business ties with the IRL and the wealthy Hulman George family, another oval-racing entity. 

And it was Bill France Jr. himself that started the GrandAm series as direct competition to ALMS.  Some say it's the divide and conquer theory - divide CART (create the IRL) and divide ALMS (create the GrandAm) and bring them to their knees.  Wouldn't it be in the wealthy France and Hulman George family's best interest if the only thing left standing was NASCAR and the IRL?  With all other race series out of the way, the sponsors and fan money would be their's for the picking.  Sounds a little like the monopoly empire Microsoft has built.

After doing some research, we found there's many ways to skin a cat, and the race will go on in October as planned.  And what a huge event it will be, much to the dismay of ISC, Homestead-Miami Raceway LLC, Roger Penske and the France family.  For the first time, CART, ALMS and TransAm will come together for a big tripleheader weekend of action-packed road racing.  The CART event sold out in 1995 when it was held a few hundred yards north of its new location.  In 1995 TV and radio stations were telling people on Saturday to stay home on Sunday, if they didn't already have a race ticket, as there was no room to fit anymore people at the event.

This years race is likely to be an even bigger hit than in 1995.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article

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AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2001, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ

AutoRacing1.com - Mark Cipolloni Page

Editorial

ISC is making enemies in Miami

 by Mark Cipolloni
March 7, 2002

Go to our forums to discuss this article

The wealthy France family and the wealthy Penske family are the major shareholders in International Speedway Corporation (ISC), owners of numerous large superspeedways in the USA, including Daytona and Homestead (just south of Miami) in Florida.  When ISC got wind of the news that ALMS and CART might be racing in the streets of Miami again, things got ugly in a hurry.

As the saying goes, the rich get richer....and in this case it's at the expense of the tax payers.  For example, did you know that Daytona Speedway is in a special tax-exempt district in Daytona in spite of the fact that they make millions in profits every year?  That's right, Daytona Speedway pays no taxes because it argues that the benefits it brings to Daytona in tourism far exceed the taxes the Speedway would pay.  It's been that way since the track was built in the 50's.  So when Daytona tried to impose taxes on Daytona Speedway recently, ISC cried foul and won.

ISC representatives are constantly going to the legislature in Florida asking for, and getting, more and more subsidies from the local government, while the poor tax payer must always pay.

Except for Watkins Glen, a natural terrain road course, ISC is in the business of putting on oval track races.  And it's the best in the business at doing it. They also run some oval track infield road races that draw small crowds.  Ironically, however, when they saw that Raceworks might move into their Dade County turf in southern Florida with a downtown Miami street race, all of a sudden they became very interested.

ISC, hiding behind Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC, which it owns, has done everything in their power to stop the Miami street race, including making contradicting public statements.  They have written legal letters to create bad publicity around the event, tried to stop them from getting building permits, opposed them getting licensure, took out full page ads in the Miami papers denouncing the event, and even pressured Brian Redman to not bring his historic racing series in for the weekends events with the ALMS and TransAm.

In deposition by Curtis Gray, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC, he admitted Homestead-Miami Speedway LLC paid for several advertisements arguing against racing in the streets of the City of Miami, saying "street races are financial failures."  Their lobbying efforts led to the City of Homestead to pass a resolution on June 4, 2001 opposing a street race in the City.

On July 10, 2001 Jorge Lopez, their attorney, spoke to the City of Miami Commission advising them against a street race in Miami.  At that same City Commission meeting, the City Manager of the City of Homestead testified that she believed that a street race in the City of Miami would hurt the City of Homestead (Miami City Commission transcript dated July 26, 2001)

Miami has been hurt bad by the recent recession, their tourism has been down dramatically.  They were counting on this race to bring them some badly needed tourist dollars and international exposure.  ISC is contesting a contract that will have a huge impact on the tourism and economic revitalization of the downtown Miami area at a time when those businesses in that area have been ravaged by the 9/11 terrorist impacts on travel and tourism.  They recently went on record saying they demanded an opportunity to bid on the race and it was unfairly awarded to Raceworks without going out to bid.  At all the prior City Commission meetings they never stated they wanted an opportunity to bid for the race in Miami.

 




As can be seen from these Friday photos at Homestead last weekend, not many are interested in attending ISC's Homestead track.  Saturday's crowd, even with all the Marlboro ticket giveaways, was light.

Why would an oval track company want to bid on an event that months earlier they stated would lose money?  Why?  Because it's ISC pushing their weight around to protect their track in Homestead, which, except for their Winston Cup date, has been a financial disaster.  My sources in Miami tell me they sold about 15,000 tickets for last weekends IRL race and 10,000 of those were bought by Marlboro, the sponsor of.....who else?  Roger Penske, who is a major shareholder in.....what else?  ISC. 

The fact is that ISC is having a hard time making a success out of the Homestead track (an oval) yet they think they can now do a good job putting on a street race, a type of racing they said are financial disasters.  In Homestead their track was originally a lease deal, but they persuaded Homestead to change it to a licensing deal so they would not have to pay any taxes, claiming they were losing money and needed the tax breaks, this from a poor town that needs every tax dollar they can get.  Wealthy ISC, paying no taxes, just like in Daytona.

Ironically, their Homestead track was built by Ralph Sanchez (and later sold to Roger Penske who sold it to ISC) with post Hurricane Andrew relief fund grants and bonds that are paid back from hotel taxes, 40% of which are derived in the City of Miami.  In other words, ISC is getting free money from Miami taxes to pay for their race track, yet are doing everything in their power to deny the City of Miami the rewards that come with having a race of their own.  Sounds rather hypocritical if you ask me.

And this has infuriated the City Of Miami Mayor.  He's now on the attack to win at all costs, especially when ISC was successful Monday in getting the Miami-Dade District judge to rule the Raceworks contract null and void because it was not put out to competitive bid.  When was the last time ISC built a track whereby they had to bid for it?

One things for certain, Chris Pook would not have put CART's name and reputation on the Miami race Tuesday, if he wasn't certain of victory over the wealthy ISC corporation's attempts to undermine the people of Miami, Raceworks, the Hispanic race fans of Miami, and ALMS and CART.  It's no secret that there have been numerous complaints of lack of promotion of CART races at ISC venues (most have failed), and that ISC has developed close business ties with the IRL and the wealthy Hulman George family, another oval-racing entity. 

And it was Bill France Jr. himself that started the GrandAm series as direct competition to ALMS.  Some say it's the divide and conquer theory - divide CART (create the IRL) and divide ALMS (create the GrandAm) and bring them to their knees.  Wouldn't it be in the wealthy France and Hulman George family's best interest if the only thing left standing was NASCAR and the IRL?  With all other race series out of the way, the sponsors and fan money would be their's for the picking.  Sounds a little like the monopoly empire Microsoft has built.

After doing some research, we found there's many ways to skin a cat, and the race will go on in October as planned.  And what a huge event it will be, much to the dismay of ISC, Homestead-Miami Raceway LLC, Roger Penske and the France family.  For the first time, CART, ALMS and TransAm will come together for a big tripleheader weekend of action-packed road racing.  The CART event sold out in 1995 when it was held a few hundred yards north of its new location.  In 1995 TV and radio stations were telling people on Saturday to stay home on Sunday, if they didn't already have a race ticket, as there was no room to fit anymore people at the event.

This years race is likely to be an even bigger hit than in 1995.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article

Author

Others by Mark

And the 2002 CART Champion will be...

A wakeup call for CART and the IRL

Chris Pook - making all the right moves

Promoting a race - Adelaide topped them all

AUTOCOURSE is THE CART Yearbook to have

Has anyone noticed

Should CART race in Adelaide?

Remembering Bob Estes

2002 will be a critical year for Pook and for CART

Tongue-In-Cheek, we take out the crystal ball again

CART & IRL - it's becoming clearer now where we're going

CART & ALMS - Two Birds of a Feather?

What's the holdup on Chris Pook?

Will CART get Shanghaied?

2002 CART season shaping up just fine

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Is Ginger just what the doctored ordered for Alex Zanardi

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Is Premier1 positioned where CART should be?

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 Lawsuits, Will Greg Moore's final legacy to racing be more than one of "spirit"? 

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Will CART's next leader be a corporate visionary?

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CART, do you know who you are?

Will CART miss this boat too, - Destined to forever race in the shadows of NASCAR?

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Sigma team - ready to do combat in CART

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CART restarts - NASCAR Style

Mario Andretti Tribute - America's Driver of the Century

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Aerodynamics - CART's chance to make progressive changes

CART's HP dilemma

Soft Walls - Finally, a safer wall system

Buddy Rice deserves a shot at Champ Cars

Choices, Choices, we rate possible new CART venues

CART must avoid Detroit's politics

10 ways for CART to invest $100 million

Montoya and Ganassi do CART proud at Indy

Welcome to AutoRacing1.com

A year of progress shapes Rockingham

A solution for CART's franchise dilemma

Lausitzring nears completion, fighting hard to win CART date

Paul Tracy keeps his Kool, wins LBGP for 2nd time

What is an American driver?

Warming up at Nazareth

172 mph in a Champ Car is the ultimate adrenaline rush

Standing Start Rules proposed standing start rules for CART

Standing Starts are they right for CART

Convert this page to
another language

e-mail us:
contacts@autoracing1.com

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2001, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ