Grand Prix Promoters Pay Off Debt To Miami
By Susan Stabley
Miami’s sports authority has received full payment on a $1.7 million debt left by the failed Grand Prix Americas race.
Championship Auto Racing Teams sent payment to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, which deposited the check May 12, according to director Jim Jenkins. That left the debt – the remainder of a $2 million loan for infrastructure for its inaugural race in 2002 – paid in full, Mr. Jenkins said.
Once the check clears, he said the original promoters of the race will not be responsible for the debt.
A Miami company, Raceworks, created the downtown event. Two of its owners – Willy Bermello, a Miami architect and developer, and Peter Yanowitch, a Miami attorney – secured the loan from the sports authority. Money was loaned by the city to Grand Prix Americas at 1.5% over the prime rate, according to the authority.
Championship Auto Racing Teams acquired Raceworks in March 2003 for $1.2 million, including $473,000 cash and a $722,000 promissory note. Championship Auto Racing Teams sent subsidiary company CART Inc. into bankruptcy protection last winter. Open Wheel Racing Series then bought CART’s Champ Car races but not the Miami event or its debts.
Championship Auto Racing Teams had offered to settle for $1.5 million, but the sports authority rejected the offer and pressed for the full amount, Mr. Jenkins said. The sports authority could have pressed Mr. Bermello and Mr. Yanowitch for the difference if Championship Auto Racing Teams did not pay the full amount, Mr. Jenkins said, "but we don’t need to do that now."