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Thursday, January 22
Updated: January 25, 4:06 PM ET
IRL bids against OWRS for assets
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indy Racing League submitted a bid Thursday to buy some of the assets of the bankrupt Championship Auto Racing Teams, the rival open-wheel racing series a group of CART team owners plans to buy.

The IRL's competing bid, which further clouds CART's immediate future, was submitted to CART attorneys and creditors about 16 hours before a Friday morning bid-submission deadline set in CART's Chapter 11 case.

IRL spokesman Fred Nation declined to say what specific assets the IRL is seeking to buy -- such as equipment and sponsorships- or for how much money.

"The bid is a substantial bid for selected assets of the bankrupt CART," Nation said. "We are not saying anything else about the bid other than that."

CART and its creditors are now expected to weigh the IRL's bid against the competing offer from Open Wheel Racing Series LLC and submit a recommendation to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Otte on which one to accept, Nation said. A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday.

It's also possible there will be more bidders, and one of them reportedly could be very serious. According to the Indianaplis Star's Web site, Grand American Road Racing Series president Roger Edmondson told the newspaper it is considering making a last-minute bid.

The group is owned by International Speedway Corp., which also owns NASCAR. Edmondson told the paper Grand Am officials have signed confidentiality paperwork with CART but would not say if the group would make a bid before Friday's 9:30 a.m. deadline.

The IRL's bid came hours after the team owners who are the principals of Open Wheel accused the IRL of fostering mistrust and anger in open-wheel racing by considering a bid.

CART, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, has agreed to sell all its assets to Open Wheel Racing for $1.6 million in cash. Because the proposed sale also calls for Open Wheel to assume some liabilities, including 2003 prize money owed to teams, the total purchase price would be about $3 million.

IRL, an oval-racing series that broke away from the established CART series in 1996, began examining the CART equipment and contracts two weeks ago.

"The IRL's late-game involvement and its admission that it is not prepared to go road racing in 2004 has awakened years of mistrust and anger for the breach in open-wheel racing," said Paul Gentilozzi, owner of CART's Rocketsports Racing team and one of three principal partners of OWRS.

Gentilozzi said his group has letters of intent from teams representing at least 18 cars, a television package and a schedule of at least 15 races this season, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18.

"The series already has all the basic elements in place," he said. "We have a plan and we will do whatever it takes to restore the Champ Car Series to its rightful status as the best open-wheel series. We don't need or want those guys across town."

Nation said the intent behind IRL's bid "is to unify open wheel racing, and on the platform of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Even though our interest is late, it is within the established dates of the proceeding and it will cause no delay," Nation said. "If we're not successful, we will still be adding road and street courses in the future."

In October, Indianapolis-based CART announced it lost nearly $78 million in the year's first nine months, and it said would have to halt operations if the takeover by Open Wheel was not completed.

"While we are aware of the interest shown by other parties, OWRS is committed to assuming all the liabilities associated with the bankruptcy," said Open Wheel partner Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of the PK Racing team. "The IRL wants to bury, OWRS wants to build. That's the difference."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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