George Explains Plan
January 25, 2004 | 1:41 P.M. EST
We have decided to bid on certain assets of the bankrupt CART racing series.
Let me give you background on this decision.
Since 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the primary steward of open-wheel racing in America. For the last 59 years, the Hulman-George family has taken enormous pride in operating IMS for the benefit of American auto racing. As part of that stewardship, it proved necessary to respond to problems undermining open-wheel racing. The Indy Racing League was founded in response to these concerns.
While the Indy Racing League was intended to serve racetracks and markets not served by CART, it was treated as an enemy by CART and by some others. We never measured our success against CART's, since we compete against all forms of entertainment in our economy. We go about our business with only one objective: to build our League.
Many of you have advocated a single, unified open-wheel series as a goal for some time. Towards that end, several times in recent years, various interested parties approached the League with the suggestion that we purchase CART. None of these proposals were commercially viable in our view. When CART announced its plan in September to merge with OWRS for $7.4 million subject to a stockholder vote, I declined again. In all of these cases, the complicated entanglements of purchasing a financially troubled series overcame the goal of unification that most desired.
However, when CART declared bankruptcy in December 2003 and announced it would not conduct a 2004 season, the situation changed. By filing for bankruptcy, CART made its assets available to the highest bidder, and the only bidder offered $1.63 million. I decided to give the situation another look. On Jan. 9, 2004, the IRL began an examination of physical assets and contracts, in order to determine whether or not to bid.
That decision has now been made. The Indy Racing League has decided to bid on certain available assets of the bankrupt CART. Thursday night, we submitted a substantial bid with CART and the unsecured creditors' committee; a bid we believe is fair and equitable for the assets we are seeking. As a member of our Indy Racing League community, it is important for you to understand how this bid fits into the future of open-wheel racing.
We believe in the integrity of our analysis and bid, and we believe in the success of our plan, should we prevail in this proceeding. If we are successful with our bid, our intention is to work quickly and effectively to create a unified, market-driven North American open-wheel series. We believe there is a window of opportunity right now to accomplish this and position open-wheel racing among the highest quality and most successful sports entertainment in North America.
When the Indy Racing League was announced in June 1994, the official news release said that ovals and road courses would be included. Our concentration has been on oval tracks since our first season and we will continue to be a predominately oval series in the future. But we are committed to expand our schedule to preserve and protect key traditional road and street races in North America, since CART is no longer able to do so.
Clearly, it is in the best interests of open wheel racing to move forward into the 21st century with one series, based on the heritage of the Indianapolis 500, taking advantage of the many new oval venues built in the last decade and incorporating historic road and street courses which are important to fans and sponsors.
From a modest beginning, the League is now regarded by impartial observers as the premier American open-wheel series. The Indy Racing League, backed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and a wide array of sponsors, teams, drivers and fans, is the sanctioning body best positioned to offer leadership in open-wheel racing.
Regardless of the outcome of our bid, the Indy Racing League will continue to adhere to our founding principles, will continue to be a predominately oval series, and will expand our existing schedule to include road and street races in North America.
I hope this helps you understand what we are doing and why, and I hope to have your support in this very important endeavor.