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Open Wheel Racing Series defeats IRL
 Champ Car series to continue
by Mark Cipolloni
January 28, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS. – The US Federal Bankruptcy Court and Judge Otte has ruled that the Open Wheel Racing Series group has won the battle to purchase the assets of the Champ Car World Series, enabling it to run the US-based single-seater series as planned in 2004.  It was a stunning defeat for the IRL and Tony George, for the road racing cartel over the oval track cartel.

In front of an overflow crowd that included IRL founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George and OWRS leaders Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven, Judge Otte told both sides to go to their rooms and settle on final bids.

"We're going to decide it," Otte said, "and we're going to decide it today."


After a long day of back and forth debate, Otte ruled that OWRS won on all counts “with no stipulations attached". This was despite a $13.5 million bid by the IRL for five of CART's street or road circuit dates, including one in Mexico, one in Canada and three others - including the prestigious Long Beach event.

Midway through the day, the IRL withdrew its bid to purchase CART's supply of engines, as Cosworth had the right to buy them back at $10 each and if the IRL had bought them, they would have lost millions of dollars in a matter of minutes.

After the ruling at the Federal Building and Courthouse in Indianapolis, OWRS partner Kevin Kalkhoven told autosport.com: "Let's get out of court, get cars on the track and go racing. I was never confident about it [the ruling], because that would be arrogant. I knew it would be decided by a court of law. We're ready to put the fans in the seats and the cars on the track."

Fellow partner Paul Gentilozzi said: "I'm happy. You never know what's going to happen, but we believed all along in our plan for the future, and it's great that the court agreed with our vision. For us, there was never a conflict."

Asked about the chances of reunifying the US single-seater racing scene, Gentilozzi replied: "We're going to do our own business and do what's best for open-wheel racing."

The third principal of OWRS, Gerald Forsythe, told SPEED Channel, “I’m just glad all this is over and we can get back to the business of what we do best, and that’s giving our many fans the kind of racing they’ve come to expect from the Champ Car World Series,” he declared.

The only outstanding issues to be resolved is whether Laguna Seca and Road America will join the OWRS calendar. This will be heard at 9.30am EST on Thursday, unless they can settle it tonight. The issue of 88 Corp's claim over the cancellation of the 2003 CART finale at Fontana appears to have been appeased with a $500,000 settlement.

Click here for OWRS Statement

Random notes from today

9:30 AM OWRS at $1,630,000 IRL at $3,260,000

Cost to cure contracts $406,000

Laguna has a $400,000 note to CART

2004 receivables not part of IRL bid

OWRS available cash = $1,224,000

Wave of claim by teams = $2,620,000

Fontana asserts claim of $2,500,000

Went over all of the contracts for 04 with OWRS

$150,000,000 in claims if CART / OWRS contracts not complied / completed

OWRS made case that unique series cannot be replaced

Worst-case OWRS to return creditors 39.79% IRL 7.69%

CART loan $63,000,000 by parent, Will forgo if OWRS wins case

$500,000 letter of indemnity for the Fontana case if OWRS wins to go toward any litigation

5 min prior to reconvene IRL makes offer of $13.5 mil 20 min recess to consider

IRL says they will run 5 races Mexico City LBGP Canada and 2 others for 3 years starting in 05

Ashworth from Gold Coast says that the local economy would lose $56 mil by not having OWRS, Net profit per race is $3 mil per year AUS.  They have 30 year-round employees.  They would lose $12 mil in profit over 5 years

$10.8 mil Queensland sponsorship per year

Max 2 races would lose $70-85 mil lease 5 year for Mont. 10 year for Mex City

2 Year contract with Montreal 3 year with Mex. City.  Both say they DO NOT WANT IRL

Canada loss would be $82,870 for one year if no OWRS race

Last objection reversed, Was it Fontana / 88 ?

2 Remaining outstanding Laguna and Elkhart Lake to discuss tonight if no agreement 9:30 AM reconvene court to settle by Judge Otte


IRL did not address all of the creditors

Mattingly (IRL) says OWRS proposal a smoke screen. Judge says "I don't think so"

IRL issues are car count / drivers / owner commitment / CART subsidize teams $55 mil loss in 2003, TV contracts

Lawsuits if contracts are not upheld

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