David slays Goliath in Miami

 by Mark Cipolloni
October 2, 2002

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ISC has finally thrown in the towel.  They've raised the white flag.  The big bad giant lost, brought to their knees by little David.  Tuesday, ISC's team of lawyers (ISC owns nearby Homestead Raceway and were trying to kill the downtown Miami race to protect their turf) called and said they give up trying to stop this weekends CART/ALMS/Trans-Am race in the streets of Miami.  They exhausted every possible legal avenue available to them up to the last possible moment, seeking injunction after injunction in the waning hours.  But in the end, good won out over bad.  Nothing but Mother Nature (Hurricane Lili) can stop this weekends races from happening.

This has been one of the ugliest battles in the history of motorsports.  I wrote in this article back in March titled, ISC, making enemies in Miami, about some of the history up until that time about ISC's political shenanigans.  And this article by Commando Cody, which I strongly recommend you take the time to read, called Taking it to the streets, why Miami is a war zone, explains why Miami was a battle between the oval track Cartel headquartered in Daytona and Indianapolis, and the road racing crowd represented by CART and ALMS.

Cody wrote, What makes the situation in Miami so noteworthy is the fact that the ALMS, Trans-Am, and CART all have powerful friends among the movers and shakers of the city of Miami. It's remarkable that ISC chose to attack them there. For one thing it is an open declaration of "total war", meaning that ISC is signaling that it will settle for nothing less than complete victory -- no "peaceful co-existence" being possible. Secondly, it is a test of ISC's might. To paraphrase the song: "If they can do it there, they can do it anywhere."  Well guess what, they got their head handed to them in a platter and it's on its way back north to Daytona.

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.

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."

Peter Yanowitch, the David who slew Goliath

A lot of credit has to go to Peter Yanowitch, an attorney, and owner of Raceworks, co-promoter for this weekends event with CART (the controlling interest in race promoter Raceworks was sold to CART, which is now the primary promoter for the event).   He was one attorney up against a slew of five ISC attorneys who were paid some $300,000 per month to fight for ISC to kill this race.  Peter is the 'David,' who slew the team (Giant) of ISC lawyers.  In some respects, CART, ALMS and Trans-Am are also David's against the giant NASCAR cartel.   Some credit must also go to the crafty Chris Pook and Don Panoz who certainly had some hand in tripping up the giant.

The giant tried everything imaginable over the last two years, but on Tuesday, he gave up the ghost.  As AR1 reported in recent weeks, even volunteers were discouraged from helping out in Miami, and as the two article above point out, the giant tried every legal maneuver in its legal arsenal, but found out whereas they have power in northern Florida, in Miami they were no match for 'David.'

One argument ISC used in trying to kill the race was that the area of Miami-Dade County could not support two races, one in Homestead at ISC's track and this one in Miami.  That's like saying Miami can't support both the Miami Dolphins football team and the University of Miami football team.  Miami is a big city.  It most certainly can support two race events/facilities.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz was highly upset with ISC's shenanigans and vowed "This race started in downtown Miami [as the Grand Prix of Miami]; this race belongs in downtown Miami, and this race will run in downtown Miami." 

Emerson Fittipaldi (L), Peter Yanowitch (C) and Willy Bermello

And run it will.  Grand Prix of the Americas President Chuck M. Martinez said plans are on track and organizers expect crowds of at least 100,000 for the three-day event.  The Grand Prix has attracted high-brow sponsors from Cadillac to Lalique to Mumm champagne. Grand Prix Americas President Chuck M. Martinez said last week that the upper-level grandstand seats and a dozen hospitality chalets along the racecourse are sold out, and only a couple of the 47 suites are still available.

Downtown Miami and its Bayfront Park locale are very picturesque and tourist-friendly, and the cultural makeup of the south Florida area is incredibly diverse, making for what would seem to be an ideal climate for success.  Friday through Sunday, auto-racing returns to the streets of Miami for the first time in seven years, in the Grand Prix Americas, a triple-header of racing -- a made-for-Miami event -- complete with a Biscayne Bay view, concerts and, of course, champagne.

After what David had to go through to slay the Giant the past two years, you can bet the bubbly will be flowing heavily on Sunday.....and it will most certainly taste extra sweet.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

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