INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Andretti called allegations that his IndyCar team is on the verge of insolvency unfounded.
The comments came Wednesday in a statement issued by the IndyCar team owner — one day after details from a lawsuit were made public.
Two minority owners for Andretti Sports Marketing claim Andretti, who owns 60 percent of that company, attempted to cover debts incurred by his race team, Andretti Autosport, by borrowing money from other sources and using some revenue from ASM.
John Lopes and A. Starke Taylor, who each own 20 percent of ASM, allege Andretti Autosport has less than $2 million in unencumbered assets and at least $7 million in debt — plus additional liabilities that may exceed $10 million. They are seeking damages and the reinstatement of John Lopes as ASM president and manager.
Lopes was recently relieved of his duties by Andretti, who said he was “unhappy with the day-to-day operations.” Taylor serves as ASM’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president.
But Andretti contends that Lopes and Taylor couldn’t know the financial details of the team he has sole ownership over because they don’t have access to team books.
“This lawsuit is a disingenuous and self-serving attempt to benefit John Lopes and Starke Taylor at the expense of Andretti Autosport and its 120 employees,” Andretti said. “The allegations by Lopes and Taylor will not be supported by the evidence and we will aggressively respond with the truth.”
Lopes and Taylor contend that a series of sponsorship defaults in 2013 and 2014 created financial pressure on Andretti Autosport. The suit claims that when a key sponsor then pulled out for the 2014 season, the team lost millions.
The plaintiffs, according to the filing, believe Andretti’s team grossed $25 million but sustained a loss of at least $10 million loss in 2014 — and that the team is projected to finish with the same numbers this year.
Andretti and his son, Marco, spent Wednesday at a daylong tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The elder Andretti did not take questions about the suit.