Andretti Sports Marketing files lawsuit against Andretti Autosport (UPDATED)

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Andretti Sports Marketing, LLC has filed a lawsuit against Andretti Autosport Holding Co., Inc. in Marion County (In.) Superior Court, which has prompted a statement from Michael Andretti against two Andretti Sports Marketing top level individuals in John Lopes and Starke Taylor.

The lawsuit was filed on July 30. Michael Andretti also is named as a defendant.

Most recent titles for both are president of Andretti Sports Marketing for Lopes, and vice chairman of Andretti Sports Marketing for Taylor. As of August 11, both were still listed on the Andretti Sports Marketing overview page as part of the leadership team.

In a Wednesday article by the Indianapolis StarStar reporter Curt Cavin notes the suit alleges Andretti Autosport has “less than $2 million in unencumbered assets and at least $7 million in debt, plus additional liabilities that may be in excess of $10 million” and that the company has borrowed $6-8 million “from various sources to operate.”

Reports indicated last year that United Fiber & Data, which had sponsored James Hinchcliffe in IndyCar and Matthew Brabham in Indy Lights, did not fully pay its bills.

Michael Andretti serves as head of both companies, as team principal of Andretti Autosport and CEO and chairman of the board for Andretti Sports Marketing.

Michael Andretti’s statement reads as follows:

“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. The allegations by Lopes and Taylor will not be supported by the evidence and we will aggressively respond with the truth.

“My family has strived to earn an exemplary reputation in all facets of our personal and professional lives. We will not allow this reckless attempt at grabbing leverage to impact our family name.”

A call for comment has been placed by MotorSportsTalk to Lopes. An email has been sent to the attorney (Jim Voyles) representing Andretti Autosport; Barnes & Thornburg LLP is representing Andretti Sports Marketing.

While rumors have circulated in recent weeks that Andretti Sports Marketing would be shut down entirely, the company remains operational at the moment, albeit with a reduced staff.

An Andretti Autosport spokesperson said in a statement supplied to MotorSportsTalk that “Michael prefers to not to see the (Andretti Sports Marketing) company shut down.”

Andretti Sports Marketing is involved with the experiential side of branding and marketing for Volkswagen’s efforts, as Andretti Autosport currently campaigns two Volkswagen Beetles for Tanner Foust and Scott Speed in the Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Andretti Sports Marketing has promoted Verizon IndyCar Series, FIA Formula E Championship and Red Bull GRC races. Its IndyCar races have included Milwaukee, Baltimore and New Orleans; Formula E in Miami and Red Bull GRC in Washington, D.C.

Andretti Sports Marketing is not involved with promotion of this weekend’s Red Bull GRC round in Washington, D.C., as it was last year.

MotorSportsTalk will follow with additional updates when they are available.

Andretti ‘getting closer’ to re-signing Alexander Rossi in IndyCar

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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TORONTO – Team owner Michael Andretti told NBCSports.com that contract negotiations with both Alexander Rossi and Honda Performance Development are progressing positively with hopes of reaching a conclusion “within the next week or two.”

Andretti spoke to NBCSports.com and to NBCN’s Robin Miller Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto.

“I think things are getting there,” Andretti said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close. I can’t comment, but I think things are going in the right direction.

“Honda has been great. They’ve been really good to work with. I’m hoping we can put something together there, too. We’ve been part of Honda for so long. I think we are getting real close there.

“I’m hoping to have this resolved in the next week or two.”

Rossi, who is in the final year of his contract, finished third in the race, one position ahead of championship rival Josef Newgarden of Team Penske.

That leaves Rossi just four points behind Newgarden heading into Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway.

Rossi’s agent is his father, Pieter.

NBCSports.com spoke to Pieter Rossi before the race, and he also expressed optimism that a deal will be reached soon for his son as the star driver, 27, enters the prime years of his career.

Andretti had separate meetings with Honda Performance Development officials and with Pieter Rossi in the hours leading up to Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.