In an announcement Tuesday morning that came as a surprise to no one involved with the negotiations, Champ Car World Series confirmed that Aquarium Asset Management, LLC has purchased the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.
The acquisition seals the fact that Champ Car will continue to race at one of their most popular venues, a staple on the series' calendar since 1984. "We are thrilled that Champ Car's future will continue in Long Beach," said Kevin Kalkhoven.
Kalkhoven, along with business partner Gerry Forsythe are the co-owners of Aquarium Asset Management. The duo owns the CCWS and each have two-car race teams that compete in the open-wheel series.
Dover Motorsports, Inc. has owned the asset rights to Long Beach since 1998, when it purchased those assets for over $90 million in cash and stock. At the time, Dover's purchase agreement also included two other circuits owned by GPALB, Memphis Motorsports Park and Gateway International Raceway.
"My team and I look forward to look forward t working with the new owners and Champ Car in the continued growth and success of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach," commented Jim Michaelian, President and CEO for the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.
Champ Car President Dick Eidswick expressed his delight at the continuation of Champ Car racing on the streets of Long Beach. "Champ Car is very pleased that the future of the Grand Prix of Long Beach has been solidified by today's announcement.
"Dover Motorsports did a tremendous job in building the race into one of the top motorsports events in the world and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has played a large role in the revitalization of the community."
At one time it was surmised the Indy Racing League might wish to make a bit for the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach but that contention was firmly denied by Fred Nation, League executive vice president of communications and a regular spokesman for owner Tony George.
"When Dover decided to sell, we decided not to bid," Nation said. "It's the Indy Racing League's policy to deal with professional race promoters, not to own and promote our own events." Over the past few years Champ Car has had to do just that as its standing in the open wheel arena fell with the demise of holding company CART.
Eidswick countered, "The Champ Car World Series has played a major role in the growth of this event and we look forward to continue building the tradition that has served the community and the series so well, for so many years."
At this point in time negotiations with longtime supporter Toyota are continuing. Both Champ Car's and Toyota's contracts with the Long Beach promotion team expired at the close of the 2005 contest, which was the opening salvo in the 14-race Champ Car season. That race was won by reigning Champ Car titleholder Sebastien Bourdais.
The City of Long Beach must still approve the sale of rights to the race but little opposition is expected. Approval could come as early as June 7th, when the City Council has its next meeting.
Kalkhoven and Forsythe purchased the assets to engine builder Cosworth in 2004, thereby ensuring a steady supply of power mills to the Champ Car World Series. Sources indicate Kalkhoven is interested in moving Cosworth from its cramped Torrance facility to larger unit inside Long Beach in the near future.
With the addition of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach to their racing assets portfolio, Kalkhoven and Forsythe appear to be saving the series from an uncertain future.
As for the GPALB staff, the 20 full-time employees on-staff expect to be retained by Aquarium Asset Management LLC. "We are operating under the assumption that we are going to conduct business as usual," Michaelian declared.