According to a Finland Newspaper titled Turun Sanomat, 2007 Formula One Champion Kimi Raikkonen will be coming to NASCAR. The catch is that his partner is Foster Gillett.
Turun Sanomat says that this summer, Raikkonen is set to run some Camping World Truck Series, followed by Nationwide and Sprint Cup for a new team called ICE1 with Foster Gillett as a partner.
“I’m really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of NASCAR,” Raikkonen told the paper. “I have been following it for a long time. I know, it’s a very tough and open top racing series. I just love the American spirit of racing. It feels just great to get involved with that. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me.”
The last time Gillett was with a team that turned into a disaster that almost saw the team close. Anybody remember last year’s drama with Richard Petty Motorsports?
The team ran into financial trouble that saw them almost miss the final three races of the year after Gillett made some bad financial decisions outside of the racing business. Sporting News reported that Gillett, who owned as much as 70 percent of the team, defaulted on it’s roughly $90 million loan last February. Sirius Speedway reports that he still owes $70 million to Wachovia Bank, while still making payments to Ray Evernham for the purchase from him a couple years ago.
The sale of Liverpool FC was suppose to help Gillett restructure it, however, it sold for a amount far less than expected causing some of these strains.
To try to put some of the pieces together, Gillett sold his stock in the companies that operate the Northstar-At-Tahoe Ski Resort in Vail Resorts, which is worth $63 million as according to Sirius Speedway. Gillett’s moves did not help the team in restructuring, though.
They almost didn’t make it to the final races of the season after Gillett failed to pay Roush-Fenway Racing for the motors and chassis. There was a hold up with leaving for both Talladega Superspeedway and Phoenix Raceway after discussions of terms.
Richard Petty Motorsports is only back on its footing due to Richard Petty, Douglas G. Bergeron and Andrew Murstein buying out Gillett’s part at the end of the season.
Evernham, who says he is still owed $19 million and brought forth a lawsuit last year, is surprised to see this even surfacing.
“I really don’t know why Kimi would partner with people who continually fail with sports franchises,” Evernham told Auto123.com. “I don’t know how they could leave with so many unpaid bills and return to the sport.”