The Champ Car World Series is demanding that the International Speedway Corporation publicly express support for a Champ Car race on the streets of downtown Phoenix, following the ISC and NASCAR's perceived attempts to quash the proposed event.
Champ Car officials believe that Bryan Sperber, President of the (ISC-owned) Phoenix International Raceway led a NASCAR/ISC-inspired smear campaign to discredit the Champ Car World Series and thus lose the support of the mayor of Phoenix and the local community for the event, which could be the 2007 season finale
Following the ISC and NASCAR's denial of any wrong-doing in this affair, Champ Car lawyer Brian Sun is asking for a public statement from NASCAR expressing support for a Champ Car race in Phoenix, as well as joining with Champ Car in taking out a full-page advertisement in newspaper The Arizona Republic demonstrating both series' commitment to all motorsports.
Champ Car has offered to fund this.
NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation are both controlled by the France family. ISC currently owns nine of the 22 tracks on the schedule, including Phoenix, Daytona, Darlington and Watkins Glen.
The row blew up when Brian Sun, lawyer for the Champ Car World Series, on the 26 May sent a letter to Brian France (Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, which is owned by ISC) and James France (ISC's CEO) accusing their companies of "engaging in a serious of tortious, anticompetitive, defamatory and unlawful business practices".
In particular, Sun accused Sperber of sending a letter to the mayor of Phoenix that was "riddled with inaccuracies, inapt analogies and, false assumptions".
Sun went on: "Mr Sperber has chosen to follow up this letter with a series of statements to the media openly defaming and disparaging Champ Car and its efforts with Arizona Grand Prix, LLC, [AZGP, promoters of the proposed Champ Car event] to bring a street race to Phoenix.
"Even more egregious is the intentional and malicious attempt by NASCAR and the ISC to induce Mr Dale Jensen and Mr Brad Yonover [co-managers of AZGP] to breach their contractual agreement with Champ Car.
"Specifically, Mr Sperber approached Mr Jensen and Mr Yonover on May 10, 2006 and announced that NASCAR and the ISC were opposed to the Phoenix race and stated, in no uncertain terms, that NASCAR should be the only professional racing organization operating in Phoenix.
"Knowing of the contractual relationship with Champ Car, and in the presence of others, Mr Sperber then attempted to induce Mr Jensen and Mr Yonover to breach their agreement with Champ Car by, in part, offering them a NASCAR event."
When Sun made it clear that Champ Car would "avail itself of all legal remedies should NASCAR and the ISC persist in their current conduct", it prompted a statement from Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications.
"Neither NASCAR, nor any of its representatives, agents, or employees, has taken a position on Champ Car's proposed event in Phoenix or participated in any conduct that would impede Champ Car's ability to run an event," said Hunter.
"Nor is it in NASCAR's best interest to do so. NASCAR understands that in order to keep motorsports healthy and vibrant in North America, it is imperative that race tracks and race fans have a broad 'product list' from which to choose."
Champ Car has given ISC and NASCAR a deadline of the end of this week by which to respond to its demand of a public statement and a Champ Car-funded advertisement in The Arizona Republic expressing support specifically for Champ Car's Phoenix street-race, but also expressing its wish for motorsport diversity.