Milwaukee Mile owes NASCAR, IRL money

UPDATE #3 The brief and troubled tenure of Wisconsin Motorsports as the race promoter at the Milwaukee Mile is over. On Friday, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board announced that Claude Napier, Wisconsin Motorsports' president and CEO, had given the fair permission to seek a new racing promoter. Napier had taken over in February.

"We appreciate Mr. Napier's passion and personal investment in his efforts to keep major racing at the Milwaukee Mile," Susan Crane, chairwoman of the State Fair Park Board, said in a prepared statement. "The Fair Board will continue to make every effort to secure a new promoter to continue the tradition of racing at the Milwaukee Mile."

Napier, who did not return calls for comment, said in the statement that he made every effort to make the 2009 racing season a success. But he acknowledged that he ran into a financial shortfall that made it impossible to continue.

Last week, he told the Journal Sentinel that he was seeking new investors to keep the track running. But nothing materialized and Napier said in a statement to the fair that he was giving State Fair officials the authority to negotiate a contract with "entities interested in becoming the new promoter of the Milwaukee Mile."

07/03/09 Milwaukee radio host Mark Belling is reporting Thursday afternoon that the IRL and NASCAR are very close to pulling out of Milwaukee. Worse, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board and Governor Jim Doyle seem to be behind a veiled effort to close the track.

06/30/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The financial mess that the Milwaukee Mile is in has NASCAR's attention.

In documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel, NASCAR states that Wisconsin Motorsports, the race promoter at the Milwaukee Mile, owes it $1,878,228 for the two races NASCAR sanctioned earlier this month.

Wisconsin Motorsports recently hosted two major NASCAR events: a Camping World Truck Series race, and a Nationwide Series race. Exact attendance numbers have not been made public, but it was estimated that the truck race drew approximately 7,000 fans, while Napier said the Nationwide Series race drew in excess of 35,000 fans.

The documents include an agreement that Claude Napier, the head of Wisconsin Motorsports, signed in which he states that he is unable to pay in full the fees due NASCAR for sanctioning the races.

As part of the agreement Napier signed, all of the revenue generated by the two races was sent directly to NASCAR. The documents include a letter written by a NASCAR lawyer to all Milwaukee Mile vendors, concessionaires, program sellers, and food and beverage sellers telling them the money they owe to Wisconsin Motorsports was instead coming to NASCAR.

Napier signed the agreement on June 18, just a day before the truck race was scheduled to be held. On June 19, however, heavy rains postponed the truck race a day. Both the truck race and the Nationwide Series race were held on June 20.

Napier did not respond to requests for comment. Late last week, Napier acknowledged he owed money to NASCAR, but declined to provide details. He also admitted, as the Legislative Audit Bureau reported in a recent audit of the Wisconsin State Fair, that the track would lose money this year.

A NASCAR spokesman, asked for comment, said the letter "speaks for itself."

Napier has said he is working with NASCAR to resolve any financial issues. A State Fair spokeswoman said fair officials were aware of the financial problems and hoped Napier could work out a settlement with NASCAR.

While Napier keeps talking with NASCAR, officials at the Indy Racing League won't say whether it has been paid yet for its event in May. The ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar weekend was held at the Mile in May. JSOnline

06/27/09 The race promoter for the Milwaukee Mile owes NASCAR money stemming from the races last weekend, and the Indy Racing League won't say whether it has been paid yet for its event in May.

The Mile hosted the Camping World Truck Series Copart 200 and the Nationwide Series 250 last Saturday. Claude Napier, head of Wisconsin Motorsports, did not disclose attendance numbers Friday but said the turnout for the truck race was low. As for the Nationwide Series race, Napier said it was in excess of 35,000 fans.

Napier acknowledged that the track would lose money this year. The Legislative Audit Bureau, which recently completed an audit of Wisconsin State Fair Park, said in its report that the Mile would lose money this year, putting added fiscal pressure on the fair.

"The sanctions fees are part of an overall deal," Napier said Friday. "We have been working closely with NASCAR in resolving these issues."

Asked for details, Napier said: "I don't want to get into specifics about what we owe and what we don't owe. We are working very closely with NASCAR and in particular we are working on the future."

Ramsey Poston, a NASCAR spokesman, said in a statement that, "despite having a terrific day of NASCAR racing last Saturday there remain outstanding issues which concern NASCAR. As a matter of policy I won't get into the specifics of our business dealings. However, I can say we are working closely with the track management to resolve outstanding issues."

The competitors were paid, according to a Charlotte Observer story.

Indy Racing League spokesman John Griffin declined to comment late Friday on whether his sanctioning body had been paid in full yet for the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar weekend at the Mile in May. IRL teams are paid quarterly by the league.

The IRL intends to announce in late July an 18-race schedule for the 2010 IndyCar Series season. Terry Angstadt, the president of the league's commercial division, told the Indianapolis Star last week that Milwaukee's future with the series was in doubt because of questions about the promoter. JSOnline

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