The soggy IndyCar Grand Prix of Louisiana is still creating a mess, even after the fact. According to the New Orleans Advocate, a subsidiary of Andretti Sports Marketing that was contracted to organize the grand prix has filed a federal lawsuit against New Orleans Motorsports Park for non-payment of more than $800,000.
Andretti signed a three-year contract with New Orleans Motorsports Park to host an IndyCar Grand Prix there, starting with this year’s race. According to the contract, only $2.6 million of the $4.5 million dollars granted from the state of Louisiana to host the event was to go towards improvements to the track. The remaining funds would be used to compensate Andretti for its services as well as pay for necessary services related to hosting the race. Andretti Sports Marketing claims that they were assured in this contract that there would be enough money left over to compensate them for their services.
Instead, the lawsuit claims that not only did $3.4 million go towards track improvements, but that Andretti and other vendors were left high and dry when it came to getting paid. Per Autoweek, the vendors who might put liens against the track for non-payment allegedly received priority when it came to the leftover state grant money over Andretti.
Andretti Sports Marketing claims that the track owes them $645,000 for this year’s race, and $206,000 for other expenses that track officials have already approved for payment. Neither of these figures include future races’ costs.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges several other hassles in relation to hosting the grand prix. In addition to the terrible weather that hampered the race’s shot at success, the lawsuit claims that track owner Laney Chouest meddled in the planning of the race, per the New Orleans Advocate.
Will Andretti Sports Marketing even be successful with this lawsuit? According to the New Orleans Advocate, the lawsuit alleges that the nonprofit New Orleans Motorsports Park established to handle the state grant money (the NOLA Motorsports Host Committee) is now “nearly insolvent,” so it may be akin to bleeding water from a stone. On April 29, Andretti was told that no further payments would be made under the agreement by a New Orleans Motorsports Park representative.
Officials, fans, and locals hoped that the New Orleans Motorsports Park race would become a regular feature on IndyCar’s schedule, providing yet another road course to balance out the oval-/street course-heavy calendar and a much-needed boost to an underdeveloped part of Jefferson Parish. However, this lawsuit makes many fans doubt whether the race will return.
Joseph Bruno Sr., the lawyer representing the NOLA Motorsports Host Committee, assured the New Orleans Advocate that the race would continue at least through 2017, even if they had to bring in a different organizer to pull it off.
Bruno also told the New Orleans Advocate that this isn’t their first dispute with Andretti. Earlier this year, the track sought an injunction against the company for withholding ticket sale receipts. That dispute was resolved amicably, per Bruno.
This time, Andretti is on the offensive, suing New Orleans Motorsports Park for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud and unfair trade practices, among other things. It also seeks compensation for both past and future damages.
Either way, it looks like the New Orleans IndyCar race’s biggest problem isn’t Francesco Dracone.
(Jalopnik reached out to New Orleans Motosports Park for comment, but we have not heard back at this time.)
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