Monterey County sued by Chris Pook over “unfair” Laguna Seca bid process

More than a year after the Monterey County Board of Supervisors officially tapped local firm A&D Narigi to manage county-owned Laguna Seca, including its iconic raceway, a Southern California motorsports veteran Chris Pook is suing the county alleging the bidding process was a “sham.”

In a suit filed Dec. 14 in Monterey County Superior Court, Pook and his Laguna Seca Management LLC firm claims that Assistant County Administrative Officer Dewayne Woods and county supervisors “deliberately created an unfair advantage” for A&D Narigi owner John Narigi and “ripped to shreds the principals (sic) of a fair process and promoted the concepts of favoritism, fraud and corruption.”

A&D Narigi won the three-year Laguna Seca contract over Pook’s firm and raceway founder and longtime operator the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula.

The suit seeks more than $25,000 in expenses, and Pook told The Monterey Herald on Friday he will seek about $50,000 to cover his expenses in making the bid. He filed a claim for $1 million for its “out-of-pocket expenses and damages” with the county in February but the claim was denied in June.

“I’m not looking to get rich off this,” Pook said. “It’s not something I want to do but this was so egregious. I just want to get my expenses back.”

Pook told The Herald he had no problem with the county’s decision not to grant him the earlier concession contract, though he argued that the process took too long. But he said last year’s bid process was “very, very unusual, to say the least.”

In his suit, Pook argues that his subsequent proposal for the management contract was “first-class” and “far exceeded” Narigi’s bid, and that he has much superior experience with auto racing including as founder of the Long Beach Grand Prix and a history of “successfully operating and managing numerous motor sports facilities, both temporary and permanent” in Long Beach, Del Mar, St. Louis, Memphis and Denver.

But the lawsuit says Pook’s bid was essentially ignored and his experience was kept from county supervisors, who ultimately awarded the contract to Narigi and his firm despite having no previous motorsports experience.

In addition, Pook argues county officials gave Narigi an advantage by notifying only him about the request for proposals months before it was issued, failed to properly notify potential bidders about the request by not publishing a notice in newspapers, or any motorsports or trade publications, and provided Narigi with “extensive” inside financial records and operating information not provided to other bidders, as well as a copy of a management contract days before the county board formally considered proposals at a public hearing. He also notes that one county supervisor even acknowledged the Laguna Seca process was a “backroom deal.” More at Monterey Herald