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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

Manny, Moe & Jack
…or just more Moe, Larry, and Curly?

ATHENS, NY—Take your pick. Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven, and Gerry Forsythe are either a force of pep boys to be reckoned with or they’re just another three rich stooges who have the resources to re-invent the CART wheel but just don’t seem to be in a great enough hurry to do so.

With scant seconds left on the clock in which to take a shot at a 2004 season, the co-spokesmen of the OWRS troika are full of hope-provoking quotes for anxious Champ Car fans—and little else.

“We are basically moving toward purchasing the assets [of CART],” Kevin Kalkhoven recently told the Long Beach Press Telegram. “We believe that there are advantages in the long run for teams and sponsors. It will also remove the uncertainty of a [shareholder] vote, and I believe it will allow us to move more quickly.”

Excuse me, but if moving “more quickly” is a top priority—as certainly it should have been right from the get-go—then why wasn’t an alternative plan like this one that KK speaks of initiated weeks ago when there were still enough teams, and uncommitted sponsors in the Champ Car racing business to perhaps make 18-car minimum fields a reality?

You say: “Well, that’s because CART—a publicly owned company—put itself on the market while there were still enough corporate assets to keep a lid on bankruptcy talk. OWRS made its offer to purchase, in good faith, under those circumstances.”

Good point.

But having an insider like Gerald Forsythe, who is the holder of nearly one fourth of CART’s shares on your team—a guy who certainly knows first-hand just how slowly the wheels at Champ Car Company headquarters tend to turn—should have given the OWRS partnership the impetus, early on, to press for a much quicker conclusion.

Hey, it’s not like there were other prospective buyers waiting in the wings who might have been willing to play the game in a kinder/gentler manner.

Meanwhile, according to a SPEED news story, “CART says that while it ‘is reviewing this proposal, there can be no assurance that any agreement will be entered into or that any transaction, if completed, will result in any payments to stockholders.’ A sale of CART’s assets following a bankruptcy declaration would likely have to be approved by a bankruptcy court.”

Which only proves how little whoever is currently steering the Titanic directly toward the iceberg really cares what will happen next to its passengers and crew.

While the loquacious Kalkhoven continues his running commentary to the press about the ever-changing nuts-and-bolts issues involved in OWRS’ takeover, his slightly more subdued partner, Trans-Am racer Paul Gentilozzi, waxes more optimistic at the exit of each new chicane that the partnership encounters on the twisty road to the completion of the deal.

“This proposal will allow OWRS to acquire the assets necessary to continue the CART racing tradition into 2004,” explains Gentilozzi. “OWRS expects to retain a sufficient number of cars to meet CART’s contractual obligations with our race promoters.”

One can only hope that enough money can be saved if this latest Plan B takes effect that would enable OWRS to subsidize team owners—including themselves—just as Grandpa Chris Pook was forced to do in order to achieve the 18-car magic number in 2003.

“OWRS plans to maintain, and ultimately expand the CART racing series in the Americas and throughout the world,” Gentilozzi adds. “While OWRS is disappointed that the previously announced [56-cent-a-share CART stock buyout] transaction appears no longer feasible, it remains committed to the CART racing series.”

And then there’s the (currently) silent partner, Gerald Forsythe who obviously got what was bothering him off his chest when he dissed a friendly nation’s government on worldwide TV as his team simultaneously dominated the CART championship while losing its long-time benefactor, Player’s Cigarettes, to Canada’s sweeping anti-tobacco products advertising regulations.

Copyright © 2003 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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