03/24/08 The following is a statement in total from Team Australia’s Craig Gore following on-going statements and accusations in the media from his former partner Derrick Walker.
This statement, while long, is a detailed list of events in chronological order regarding the history of the Team Australia program.
With Walker threatening future legal proceedings, this will be the final comment Gore will be making on this issue.
“Team Australia was created by Kevin Kalkhoven and myself in San Francisco – in late 2004 as a result of wanting to run David Besnard’s single Champ Car race in Surfers Paradise that year. Not by Derrick Walker as he has publicly stated," said Gore.
“We ran the 2004 Surfers Paradise race with Walker Racing at the request of Kevin Kalkhoven. Kevin’s generosity continued when he requested I form a JV agreement with Derrick Walker because he was about to shut his doors. Kevin felt it best for the series and Walker Racing if we formed a partnership. Kevin Kalkhoven contributed on that basis alone. It must be Team Australia. I discussed this with Derrick Walker and he agreed. We created GORE FISH WALKER LLC.
"All sponsorship, funding and acquisition costs, development funding and marketing of the Team Australia brand and team during our entire tenor has been borne by myself, sponsors I provided, CCWS owners’ companies and Kevin Kalkhoven.
“Not at any time did Derrick Walker and or Walker Racing or anyone associated with him provide any permanent funding to the team, the branding of Team Australia or any other form of funding required for the team. This amounts to more than $US20 Million over a three-year period.
“Derrick Walker and Walker Racing used, to its sole benefit, the Branding of Team Australia to develop funding for the Champ Car Atlantics’ program. I received no benefit from this and I am currently owed $US500,000 for cars and equipment bought by myself to establish this team the previous year. I have never called on or asked for this to be repaid.
“There have been numerous anomalies in accounts over the period amounting to more than $US500,000. I have never called on these to be repaid. I will now call on the funds to be repaid immediately. I will also cause for all accounts to be forensically investigated to ensure there has been no misappropriation of funds provided to the team.
“After three years there is less than $US300,000 owing in the accounts, save for Mr. Walker himself, up to and prior to the date I advised him to cease operation. I have paid all budget over runs including $US950,000 in 2006 which were incurred without my express agreement or prior knowledge.
“At present there is $US1.1 million outstanding in the GFW accounts. Of which I have provided Derrick several undertakings to pay. These have been obviously unacceptable and now withdrawn. However, when taking into consideration Mr. Walker is the largest creditor (His contribution to our partnership) it was agreed to work harmoniously to resolve these matters in an orderly and appropriate manner.
“I would like to point out all drivers during our tenor were provided to the team by myself, CCWS and Kevin Kalkhoven. Contracts for Marcus Marshall, Alex Tagliani, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were negotiated firstly by myself, Kevin Kalkhoven and CCWS and then offered to Derrick after the fact. Not at any time did Derrick Walker and or Walker Racing have any say or involvement in the driver arrangements, allocation of funding for those drivers or any other aspect of their agreements other than to operate them in accordance with the agreement between the JV parties and the funding provided.
"Not at any point did I have a direct or indirect role in funding allocation. My involvement was to provide funds, which were the shortfall to the team after sponsor contributions. I meet and will continue to meet these requirements. Derrick Walker has been offered a resolution to all outstandings, none of which are acceptable to him.
“The heads of agreement which we (Walker and Gore) operated under for three years was deemed by Derrick Walker as unacceptable and unworkable in January of this year. Given this, and the uncertain future direction of the sport at that time, I met with Derrick Walker in late January in Los Angeles to discuss the future of both and it was agreed both the series and GFW could not continue as it was. There was no confusion. Either we effected change or we closed the doors.
“There needed to be change. I subsequently met with Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe in Las Vegas and in accordance with my agreement with Derrick, explained to both men in no uncertain terms our lack of desire to continue in the series as it was. There needed to be change. Significant change for GFW to continue to operate and or participate in the CCWS. There were many topics discussed at this meeting including my further involvement in the series independently as a Team Owner.
"At the conclusion of this meeting I met again the following day with Kevin Kalkhoven for several hours to discuss the future of the sport and that of CCWS. At the conclusion of that meeting I telephoned Derrick Walker and told him to cease all expenditure on the program. I provided Derrick Walker with many opportunities during the next month or so to walk from both GFW and CCWS. It was my understanding after meeting Kevin Kalkhoven there was change afoot and from that point on we should seriously consider all our options moving forward.
"Unfortunately, Derrick was not able to contribute anything other than management skills and moving forward there was a requirement for real cash to be contributed. Derrick advised in mid February even if he were to finalize matters with GFW satisfactorily to his requirements. He was in no position to contribute capital, nor did he have any sponsors which could come on board to underwrite his desires.
"I have not mislead Derrick Walker and or Walker Racing in any form. Derrick provided me with an unacceptable budget and costings with nefarious funding schedules to continue in 2008 and he has constantly advised he was moving on with other sponsors if I didn't agree.
"I have not at anytime attempted to disband the company or steal drivers or staff. I have never directly or in directly had any conversations or engagement with staff of GFW. Even during the period where the staff were employed directly by me.
"In fact, Derrick signed Will Power in mid-February without my knowledge or consent to operate independently to GFW. A breach of his duty to both GFW, myself and the parties he was purporting to deal with. (This was a short term contract in which Derrick failed to fulfill certain criteria – Will was automatically released after the required deadline and then signed to race with Team Australia and KV Racing Technology).
“Once this was disclosed to me I severed all ties with Derrick Walker. I did try to involve him in the new team, but he was not prepared to work for others, or with others and wanted to continue operating as Walker Racing. He was not prepared to sell his factory, shut down his team and merge. He was insistent on operating the team from Walker Racing premises and his conditions of funding were ludicrous, fanciful and self-serving to say the least.
“I did not provide Derrick Walker or Walker Racing any commitment moving forward other than to do my best to contribute towards the merging of both series as I thought this was the best outcome for all involved. I believe I have contributed to this process positively and uncompromisingly. I make no apology for this.
"More over, during this period Derrick has been constantly in the media during the most sensitive negotiations in the sport’s history. Telling the world he had moved on and was going racing in the IRL regardless of what the outcome of merger negotiations were. His continuous outburst against the CCWS, his colleagues and partners have left them confused and disappointed after providing him so much support over the past three years. His actions have taken a lot away from his great contribution to the sport over many decades.
"I look forward to any court action Derrick Walker may take. I relish the opportunity to have my day in court.
"My focus now is on open wheel racing in the Untied States. The development of the new combined series and the development of Will Power as a talented Australian Driver.
"There was always going to be attrition once a merger took place. I am not responsible for the failures Derrick now faces. He was given every opportunity to participate. And he took every opportunity to steal from the hands that feed him via the media. This spiteful and vexatious behavior does nothing but demonstrate the fragile nature of his team and a desire to manipulate a small section of the media for self-serving purposes. You can't threaten to leave the sport and move on from your partnerships via the media, then expect the world to take you seriously when the same people decide they are better off without you.
“I will be making no further comment on this matter."
03/20/08 Statement from Derrick Walker, owner of Walker Racing which fielded cars for Craig Gore's Team Australia:
“I was extremely disappointed by Craig Gore’s announcement to take Team Australia, our driver, and sponsors to KV Racing. Contrary to Gore’s recent statements, I developed the concept of Team Australia in 2005. Over a three-year period, Team Australia had great success in using motor sports as a marketing tool for Australian companies, including Gore’s winery, Aussie Vineyards.
"Despite the success of the team, Gore defaulted on his financial obligations to Team Australia throughout the 2007 season. Walker Racing was forced to loan the team substantial funds in order to continue competing in the Champ Car World Series. Walker Racing is still owed in excess of $1,500,000 by Gore and his related entities. I relied upon Gore’s repeated assurances that he would fulfill his commitments to the Team Australia program and to me.
"Until Gore’s recent announcement to take Team Australia to KV Racing, I was led to believe that we would be moving forward together as a team in 2008. I believe that Gore’s actions are a serious default of his contractual commitments and fiduciary obligations as a business partner. I have given Gore ample opportunities to resolve these disputes informally. Unfortunately, it appears I will have no choice but to take legal action."