CHAMPCAR/CART: Texas Motor Speedway files suit against CART

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (May 8, 2001) -- Texas Motor Speedway today filed suit in the 393rd District Court in Denton County against CART and several CART officials as a result of CART's last-minute cancellation of the Firestone Firehawk 600 scheduled...

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (May 8, 2001) -- Texas Motor Speedway today filed suit in the 393rd District Court in Denton County against CART and several CART officials as a result of CART's last-minute cancellation of the Firestone Firehawk 600 scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway on April 29, 2001.

"We wanted to avoid this suit, but CART has not been very responsive regarding the losses and damages suffered by Texas Motor Speedway and its fans," said Eddie Gossage, speedway general manager. "The Speedway has begun the process of refunding millions of dollars worth of tickets held by fans. Unfortunately, CART has refused to refund the purse and sanction fee paid by the Speedway. Our fans deserve to get their money back, and the Speedway deserves to get its money back as well.

"Moreover, CART has not been responsive to our claim for reimbursement of millions of dollars in expenses for organizing and staging the event or for any damages Texas Motor Speedway has suffered as a result of CART's wrongful cancellation of the race," said Gossage.

The suit seeks the return of the purse and sanction fee in addition to compensation for expenses incurred by the Speedway, lost profits and other damages.

CART executive officers said that its drivers were suffering from a condition similar to vertigo due to the high speed of the cars that resulted in significant G-forces.

"The symptoms suffered and the G-forces are caused by driving too fast," said Gossage. "CART is totally responsible for regulating the maximum speed of its race cars, not Texas Motor Speedway, and CART refused to regulate it. CART's Chief Executive Officer addressed the speed issue and also told the media that Texas Motor Speedway was ready. In fact, both the Speedway and the fans were ready."

In the suit, Texas Motor Speedway says that it urged CART as far back as October 2000 to schedule testing to make sure there were no problems with the speed of the cars.

"We urged CART to adjust their rules so that the speeds would reach no more than 220-225 mph, the same speed the IRL cars have safely driven at Texas Motor Speedway for years," said Gossage.

The suit goes on to claim that CART's race car speed issue was raised by a CART driver in March. CART CEO Joe Heitzler responded, claiming that the concerns of the CART driver had been addressed and would not pose an obstacle to proceeding with the race as planned. Heitzler stated that, "CART is ready, willing and able to hold the (race).on April 29."

In addition to CART, the lawsuit named as defendants Joe Heitzler, CEO of CART; Kirk Russell, Vice president of Competition for CART; Chris Kniefel, Chief Steward of CART; Wally Dallenbach, former Chief Steward and current consultant to CART; and Hal Whiteford, former President, Racing Operations for CART.

-TMS

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Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach