INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Panther Racing has sued Rahal Letterman Lanigan
Racing, IndyCar and others, saying it lost a $17.2 million sponsorship
with the Army National Guard because of bid-rigging and other
The lawsuit filed Feb. 19 in Marion County Court in Indianapolis
follows a ruling earlier this year by the U.S. Government Accountability
Office. The GAO denied Panther's appeal of moving the Army National
Guard sponsorship to Graham Rahal's car for the upcoming IndyCar season.
The Rahal organization sought the sponsorship last fall, but Panther
Racing appealed to keep the contract it has held since 2008. All
military sponsorships are reviewed annually.
Panther Racing had used a variety of drivers in the car since J.R.
Hildebrand crashed on the final lap while leading the Indianapolis 500
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified economic and punitive damages,
accuses IndyCar of breach of contract, contending Panther Racing had
exclusive right to provide Fan Village access rights and benefits to the
Army National Guard, which was a requirement of the contract, but that
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles wrote a letter last November saying Rahal had the
right to provide that access.
The lawsuit alleges IndyCar is liable for all economic damages to
Panther arising from that breach. A message seeking comment was left
Friday for an IndyCar spokesman by The Associated Press.
The lawsuit also alleges Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was aware of
Panther Racing's exclusive rights to provide access to the Fan Village
and falsely claimed ownership of the contractual right.
Rahal racing officials said in a statement released Friday that
Panther is raising many of the same issues it raised with the GAO.
"The GAO also noted that there was no evidence supporting many of
Panther's allegations, and that the National Guard's decision was driven
by the basic fact that Panther's base per year price was approximately
$5 million more than RLL's price," the statement reads.
Landing the funding was a big step that will help the overall growth
of the Rahal organization. Bobby Rahal added his son to the team last
year, and he has overhauled the program since midway through last
season, when he brought in engineer Mitch Davis. He's also added
engineer Bill Pappas and recently named veteran John Dick head of
research and development.
Rahal called the lawsuit "unfortunate and disappointing."
The lawsuit also names a company called Document Packaging Brokers,
known as Docupak, based in Alabaster, Ala., which it says performed
services to administer the National Guard sponsorship agreements, and
someone in the National Guard contracting office of conspiring with
Rahal racing to influence the bid process.
A telephone message was left Friday for a Docupak spokesman by the AP.