IndyCar name continues to get drug in the mud in Boston

Mayor Martin J. Walsh
Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and several high-ranking aides and former campaign advisers could be called as witnesses in a lawsuit against former Grand Prix of Boston CEO John Casey, dredging up potentially damaging details about one of the biggest busts of Walsh’s first term.

Casey submitted a witness list to an Indiana federal court overseeing IndyCar’s lawsuit against him alleging fraud and breach of contract for canceling the planned Grand Prix event. The IndyCar race was supposed to take place in Boston’s Seaport district earlier this month, but crashed last April amid bad blood between Casey and the Walsh administration.

The witness list is a who’s who of City Hall power brokers, state officials and Walsh confidants, including the mayor himself, operations chief Patrick Brophy and former campaign advisers Chris Keohan, Kate Norton and Dan Passacantilli, who were working for Casey to shepherd the race through City Hall.

Others on the witness list include the head of the IndyCar racing organization, Mark Miles, and two Baker administration officials who were handling negotiations with the Grand Prix, deputy legal counsel John Stephan and highway chief Thomas Tinlin.

The names are just a "preliminary" list and Casey could add more to call in his defense. Casey states in his court filing that the witnesses "may be relied upon at trial" of IndyCar’s civil lawsuit charging him with fraud and failing to pay the "personal guaranty" he signed to back the race financially.

A Walsh spokeswoman said the mayor would have no comment on his inclusion in the witness list. It could be more than a year before Walsh or the others could even be deposed — the proposed trial date is January 2018.

But the lawsuit, one of several against Casey and the Grand Prix, could dredge up embarrassing, behind the scenes details about Walsh’s dealings with race promoters and his attempts to save the race after Casey canceled it.

The mayor and his team were the major backers of the Grand Prix, which Walsh said would show Boston could stage a major sporting event. But the race instead turned it into one of the top failures of his first term, along with the collapse of Boston’s 2024 Summer Olympics bid.

The Herald has reported that Casey has gone to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which launched a preliminary investigation into whether unions or City Hall aides made any demands of race organizers.

In the IndyCar lawsuit, Casey has so far failed to get the court to throw out the case. A federal magistrate judge last week recommended Casey’s motion to dismiss should be denied, writing in colorful language that the defendant was "asking the court to display the red flag before the checkered flag can be waved."

The judge said the race would have turned Boston’s Labor Day weekend "into a veritable festival of speed" but that Casey’s unexpected cancellation meant "the green flag would never fly above the City on a Hill." Joe Battenfeld/Boston Herald

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