Penske, Miles, Vasser, Power, Brown pay tribute to Kalkhoven
Roger Penske, Mark Miles, Jimmy Vasser, Zak Brown and Will Power are among the motorsport luminaries paying tribute to the late Kevin Kalkhoven who died today.
Kalkhoven, 77, was co-owner of the Champ Car World Series 2003-’08, Cosworth, Pi Electronics and KV Racing Technology (formerly PKV Racing, latterly KVSH Racing) IndyCar team.
“Motorsports has lost one of its true leaders,” said Roger Penske. “Kevin Kalkhoven had a great passion for open-wheel racing, and his vision and support helped guide the sport through some turbulent times.
“As a leader of the Champ Car World Series, Cosworth Engineering and the KV Racing Technology team, Kevin had an incredible impact on IndyCar. Our thoughts are with the Kalkhoven family and Kevin’s many friends and colleagues that are coping with his loss.”
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp., added: “I met Kevin in 2013, and we quickly developed a personal friendship and a lot of common ground in racing.
“In many ways, winning that year’s Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan must have been the highlight of his racing life. I’m sure he didn’t come back down to earth for many months.
“Kevin was a colorful, forceful personality who constantly brought new ideas to the table in an effort to grow the sport. I will miss him.”
Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, described Kalkhoven as a “major force” in racing and also noted his philanthropy, as he served on the board of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps for seriously ill children, and was also a benefactor to the Mayo Clinic and the Canary Foundation.
“Deeply saddened at the loss of Kevin Kalkhoven,” said Brown. “An Indy 500 winner, owner of Champ Car, Cosworth and the Long Beach Grand Prix, Kevin was a major force in motorsport but also a great colleague and friend, whose business success was mirrored by his generosity to great causes.”
A statement from Cosworth explained: “Kevin proved an influential figure in repositioning Cosworth from a motorsport powerhouse into a growing and profitable, transportation technology business up to his resignation as director and chairman of the board on the 15th October last year at which time Hal Reisiger was elected Chairman.
“Through his passion for the Cosworth brand, Kalkhoven worked tirelessly to ensure that the business not only retained its relevancy in the motorsport and automotive sectors, but also expanded into adjacent markets, such as marine, defense and aerospace.
“He was also instrumental in Cosworth expanding its global footprint with an eye on international market trends. He possessed a visionary outlook that Cosworth’s shareholders have pledged to continue for the future continued growth of the business.
“Cosworth extends its condolences to Kevin’s family and loved ones and respect their wishes for privacy at this difficult time.”
Reisiger himself added: “We were incredibly saddened to learn that Kevin passed away following his recent period of illness. Since his involvement with Cosworth in 2004, he had been a key source of inspiration for the business. His passion for motorsport is well documented, but he was also a visionary and pioneer of future technology. He was a leading force behind Cosworth’s evolution into a transportation technology business – and we honor his contribution, which will undoubtedly have a long-lasting beneficial legacy.
“On behalf of everyone at Cosworth, I send my sincere condolences to Kevin’s wife and family at this understandably difficult time”.
Will Power, who drove for KV Racing in 2008, winning the final ever Champ Car race, told Motorsport.com: “Hearing about Kevin this morning was sad and quite shocking.
“I’d say he was important to my career in three ways. First, he played a massive part in keeping Champ Car alive, and obviously that series gave me and a lot of drivers an opportunity to break into the open-wheel scene here in America. We got to race fast powerful cars on road and street courses, and learned a lot, so we weren’t just thrown into oval racing in the IRL.
“Then obviously it was Kevin and Tony George that made the merger happen, which was definitely what was needed for the sake of open-wheel racing in this country.
“And of course, Kevin and Jimmy [Vasser] ran me at KV Racing for the first year after the merger. We won that final Champ Car race at Long Beach, but I’d also say that when we all had to switched to the IRL Dallara, KV was definitely one of the best of the ex-Champ Car teams at getting up to speed. That probably helped get me noticed by Roger [Penske] and Tim [Cindric, Team Penske president].
“So yeah, I’m really grateful to Kevin for what he did. Sympathy to Kim and all his family and friends.”
Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said: “The entire Grand Prix Association of Long Beach family is saddened to hear of the passing of our co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.
"He has provided strong support and visionary leadership over the past 16 years and his contributions to our company as well as to the racing community will be sorely missed.
"Our condolences go out to his wife Kim and all of the Kalkhoven family in these difficult times. RIP, Kevin.”
Jimmy Vasser, who joined forces with Kalkhoven as a team owner/driver in 2005 and remained a partner until the team dissolved in the 2016/’17 offseason, "Kevin Kalkhoven lived life to the absolute fullest. He showed how life was to be lived. He was a great partner and dear friend.
“I will always miss his mischievous smile and uproarious laughter. Rest In Peace, Dear Friend.”
Former Cosworth colleague Mark Gallagher, tweeted: “Really very sad to hear that Kevin Kalkhoven has passed away. He was a fantastic guy to work with @Cosworth. Along with business partner Gerry Forsythe, he supported the company through thick & thin. A true racer. A keen skier, we had some very memorable times.”
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