Speedcar liquidation affects ex-F1 drivers
16 August, 2010
(L-R): Heinz-Harald Frentzen (GER) Phoenix Racing, Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) UP Team and Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) Palm Beach – Al Futtaim on the podium.
Aug.16 (Dubai, UAE) Sitting in a high tech garage near the Dubai Autodrome paddock are 30 (Nascar style) Speedcars with a host of spares and service equipment which is now listed for sale as part of the liquidation process for the stock car series, which Union Properties launched in 2008.
The Dubai property developer is facing a potential loss of more than Dh140 million on the venture after reporting its worst quarterly loss last week, according to reports in Abu Dhabi newspaper The National.
The concept at the time was revolutionary: provide spectacular rip-roaring, flame spitting stockcars to a host of former Grand Prix drivers, throw in some young guns and tin top race aces and let them do battle in a series on major circuits in Asia and the Middle East as part of Grand Prix weekends in the region.
With the likes of Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and even 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve the series attracted enthusiastic following and was inevitably a highlight of the Grand Racing weekend concept which included GP2 Asia on the bill. However when sharing the weekend with Formula 1, Speedcar were bit players on the stage.
Ultimately the expense of sustaining the running of the series proved to be overwhelming and as a result of cutbacks associated with the financial crisis of 2007–2010 the series was unsustainable. A rescue deal planned by new series boss Claudio Berro fell through, and the championship was cancelled in June 2009. The British Virgin Islands based company was placed into liquidation on 14th June 2010 and its assets put up for sale.
The National also reported that, “Speedcar International, a holding company created by Union Properties, folded with liabilities totalling Dh153m, with the parent company as its largest creditor. The developer is owed Dh141.3m, according to Griffins, an insolvency firm hired to manage the sale. Other notable creditors include the former Formula One drivers Johnny Herbert, who is owed upwards of Dh621,000 and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who is owed Dh476,000.”
Other former F1 drivers who contested the Speedcar series included: Christian Danner, Stefan Johansson, Narain Karthikeyan, Ukyo Katayama, J.J. Lehto, Gianni Morbidelli, Alex Yoong and Vitantonio Liuzzi competed in the Speedcar Series. MotoGP rider Marco Melandri also competed in several races. Herbert won the inaugural 2008 Speedcar Championship with Morbidelli winning the second and final title in 2009.
The Speedcar, housed at the Dubai Autodrome, are being sold as a single lot – one buyer takes all – including 30 cars, support equipment, race equipment, tools, merchandise and other items.
The National reports that, “there had been interest from several potential buyers already, including some who aimed to continue the racing series in the Gulf and others who wanted to buy the spare parts for existing racing series.