Kevin Kalkhoven, winning Indy 500 team owner and Champ Car co-founder, dies

Kevin Kalkhoven IndyCar
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
0 Comments

Kevin Kalkhoven, a key player in the reunification of the NTT IndyCar Series, died Tuesday morning. He was 77.

His death was announced in a tweet from Cosworth, where Kalkhoven served as chairman of the board in one of many leadership roles he took in the racing industry. The venture capitalist also co-founded the Champ Car World Series with Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi after purchasing the assets of the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) circuit.

Four years later, Kalkhoven was instrumental in hammering out a deal with former Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George for IndyCar to absorb Champ Car. The February 2008 merger ended a bitter civil war in major-league open-wheel racing that had lasted since the mid-1990s.

“Motorsports has lost one of its true leaders,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske said in a release. “Kevin Kalkhoven had a great passion for open-wheel racing, and his vision and support helped guide the sport through some turbulent times. As a leader of the Champ Car World Series, Cosworth Engineering and the KV Racing Technology team, Kevin had an incredible impact on IndyCar. Our thoughts are with the Kalkhoven family and Kevin’s many friends and colleagues that are coping with his loss.”

Kalkhoven’s racing teams also fielded cars for more than a decade. Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 in a No. 11 Dallara-Chevrolet co-owned by Kalkhoven and CART champion Jimmy Vasser.

“Kevin Kalkhoven lived life to the absolute fullest,” Vasser said in a release. “He showed how life was to be lived. He was a great partner and dear friend. I will always miss his mischievous smile and uproarious laughter. Rest In Peace Dear Friend.”

Kalkhoven’s teams – known as PK Racing, PKV Racing and KV Racing Technology – also fielded cars for Vasser Vasser, Will Power, Cristiano da Matta, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais while earning seven victories from 2003-16.

Kalkhoven, a native of Adelaide, Australia, also was a co-owner of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“The entire Grand Prix Association of Long Beach family is saddened to hear of the passing of our co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven,” said Jim Michaelian, the president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “He has provided strong support and visionary leadership over the past 16 years and his contributions to our company as well as to the racing community will be sorely missed. Our condolences go out to his wife Kimm and all of the Kalkhoven family in these difficult times. RIP, Kevin.”

In a statement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kalkhoven was remembered as an aviation enthusiast and a noted philanthropist who served on the board of directors of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, which benefits children with serious illness.

“I met Kevin in 2013, and we quickly developed a personal friendship and a lot of common ground in racing,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said. “In many ways, winning that year’s Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan must have been the highlight of his racing life. I’m sure he didn’t come back down to earth for many months. Kevin was a colorful, forceful personality who constantly brought new ideas to the table in an effort to grow the sport. I will miss him.”