The horror story regarding the abrupt demise of American Dream Motorsports (ADM) was first brought to our attention yesterday by the braintrust at TrackSide Online, and after looking further into the details it’s apparent this had become an epic disaster for anyone even remotely affiliated with the team.
According to KVBC the story starts off last year in Nevada, where the graduating class at Rancho High School had raised $5000 so they could hold their prom at an establishment near the Tropicana hotel and casino. They all worked summer jobs at a country club and sang about cooking in the kitchen before Troy and Gabriella finally...wait, that’s "High School Musical 2". Sorry.
Anyhow, the kids in Las Vegas raised the money and cut a check to a businessman named Eric Zimmerman for use of the facility, which is where the story begins to descend into tragedy. Turns out Zimmerman didn’t have a license to hold a teen event, but much to the dismay of the kids he still pocketed the check. The yutes (“Did you say ‘yutes’?) went to court, Zimmerman was a no-show, and the judge ruled in the kids favor. Unfortunately they actually ever saw a dime of their money returned.
We fast forward to 2008, where Zimmerman has purchased the assets of the former Playa Del Racing team. I’m guessing it cost more than $5K. At Indy this year AMD looks to run Al Unser III in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 and Phil Giebler in the Indianapolis 500. “Just Al” Unser runs a respectable 11th but loses his sponsorship after the race, while Phil Giebler puts his Panoz into the wall with authority while attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Probably not the results the AMD bunch was hoping for.
I’m reluctant to relay notes from an unverifiable source such as a message board, but in this case it’s all we’ve got. What follows is culled from responses by ADM crew member Paul Gray at the Indiana Open Wheel forum. You should read the thread yourself, but in case you are lazy or disinterested your humble host will summarize.
With no drivers and one less car Zimmerman himself drove the transport to Milwaukee where Tony Turco was expected to drive in the Indy Lights race. After pulling over for a meal, a series of unfortunate events involving a fire hydrant resulted in Zimmerman being taken into police custody in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on an outstanding warrant relating to (surprise!) the kids he stiffed in Nevada. You fight authority, authority always wins.
Despite the incarceration of their boss, the rest of the ADM team soldiered on to Milwaukee and assembled the Indy Lights ride. With the owner in jail Turco, who himself apparently owns the race car or the transport or both, decided he didn't want to race under the circumstances because he didn't want to pay anymore cash money than he already has. Turco supposedly worked out a deal with Zimmerman’s wife where he would drive the transport back to Indy so she can liquidate some assets contained in the truck in order to raise the $22,000 bond to release Zimmerman from jail. Sounds like a plan, except that according to Gray this Turco guy drove the transport home to Cincinnati instead of Indianapolis.
No, I have no idea how everyone in this story can just up and drive a big rig.
So as it stands today:
• Prom night kids in Vegas are still out five grand
• Team owner is still in jail awaiting bond
• ADM team is evaporated after working without pay
• “Just Al” has no ride for the rest of the Indy Lights season
Well, at least Phil Giebler is out of the hospital. TSO is continuing to follow the story as it develops, but for now let this be a reminder to those of you not named “Sarah Fisher” that the auto racing business can be just as cruel as it is cool. In cases like this, even more so with the cruel part.
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