IndyCar Upholds Penalty, Denies Protest for Mark Olson, O2 Racing Technology

UPDATE The INDYCAR Race Director Tony Cotman today upheld the penalty and suspension of O2 Racing Technology and team owner, Mark Olson. In the penalty (authored and assessed by Roger Bailey, Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights), INDYCAR claimed, “… you encouraged team owners to boycott the [Milwaukee] event …". This allegation against Olson was simply false, leading to an appeal by O2 Racing Technology and Olson of the penalty and a hearing held by INDYCAR on July 14, 2011.

At the hearing, INDYCAR admitted that it had conducted an investigation that failed to find a single person who claimed to have been encouraged to boycott the Milwaukee event by Olson. However, INDYCAR maintained that the burden rested on Olson to prove a negative, i.e., that Olson did not encourage a boycott. Despite Olson’s testimony to his innocence and personal team owner letters supporting Olson’s position, INDYCAR denied the appeal and ruled that there was insufficient evidence to reverse the penalty and suspension.

Mark Olson states,
“I am very disappointed with the outcome of the protest, and I strongly disagree with the ruling. The penalty notice accusations are simply untrue. After yesterday’s hearing, I’m more convinced than ever that INDYCAR knew that the accusations are untrue. I don’t understand why they won’t just admit their mistake and attempt to undo the damage done not only to me personally, but also to the O2 Racing team and its sponsors and supporters."

07/15/11 INDYCAR announced today it will uphold penalties issued to Firestone Indy Lights team owner Mark Olson and entrant O2 Racing Technology after a protest hearing by Race Director Tony Cotman.

INDYCAR suspended the entrant license of O2 Racing Technology and the membership of Olson until December 31, 2012, for actions during The Milwaukee Mile event June 18-19.

Cotman investigated and heard the protest July 14 in Indianapolis.

Olson was suspended for attempting to impede the conduct of the event by encouraging others to breach contracts with INDYCAR and withdraw from the David Hobbs 100. O2 Racing Technology was the only entrant to withdraw, removing its No. 36 entry from the participant list.

The actions were in violation of multiple rules as listed in the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook:

Rule 1.1: Actions threatening the integrity of INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights and/or orderly conduct of an event.

Rule 2.11 (C): Conduct creating adverse notoriety with respect to INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights or an event.

Rule 9.3 (A): Attempting to or engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct or conduct detrimental to racing, INDYCAR and/or Firestone Indy Lights.

Section 14 of the Event Entry Form: Engaging in tactics which would disrupt or delay the events.

Olson and the team filed a protest of the penalties with INDYCAR on July 5. Per Rule 13.1, an appeal may be initiated by 5 p.m. EDT of the second business day following the release of the protest decision.

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