$20.5m damages for Aruba circuit entrepreneur

US promoter Ralph Sanchez of Motorsports Americas has been awarded $20.5m damages in a judgement against the government of Aruba, over an aborted project to develop a new racing circuit on the island, which lies off the northern coast of Venezuela. A US judge ruled that the Aruban administration had committed misconduct in the final stages of the negotiations

$20.5m damages for Aruba circuit entrepreneur

was to have been a 2.7-mile, 14-turn track at Seroe Colorado, on the southern tip of the biggest island of the Dutch Antilles. Financial backing was to have been provided jointly by the state and the private sector, represented by Carlo Mansur of the Aruba Motorsports Foundation. It was Mansur who enlisted the assistance of Sanchez in the project.

Prime Minister Henny Eman officiated at a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the Aruba Motorsport Complex in September 1999, and was presennted with a signed helmet by Brazilian racing star Emerson Fittipaldi. The venue was designed by Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, which designed the Homestead speedway facility in Florida, and the prime contractor was to have been Calmaquip/Albo, which had recently completed Aruba's new international airport.

Aruba was listed on tentative Trans-Am, SCCA World Challenge, Indy Lights and ALMS schedules in 2000 and 2001, but negotiations broke down, and the venture was ultimately cancelled.

"I had hoped to bring world-class auto racing to the island to boost its image and tourism," said Sanchez, the promoter of the GP of Miami. "It is unfortunate that the government of Aruba did not have the same vision."

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