Forsythe to buy remaining Long Beach stake, commits event to IndyCar

Any efforts by NASCAR, IndyCar, or Formula 1 to gain control of the 50-percent share of the Long Beach Grand Prix made available by the estate of the late Kevin Kalkhoven will not meet their desired outcome.

Gerald Forsythe, who purchased the country’s biggest street race with Kalkhoven in the 2000s, says the event’s fate will be settled in a different way.

“The estate has agreed to sell its 50% to me,” the industrialist and former owner of the Champ Car series told RACER. “If [any series] has its sights on Long Beach please tell them to look elsewhere. This [is] an IndyCar event, and it will be into the future.”

The swift development to consolidate 100-percent ownership and control of the 49-year-old race follows efforts by multiple sanctioning bodies – NASCAR and IndyCar Series owners Penske Entertainment being the most recent – to pursue Kalkhoven’s stake in the Southern Californian event.

Featuring IndyCar since 1984, Long Beach Grand Prix has been a marquee event in the region for decades, boasting more than 100,000 attendees across the three-day race, which also host’s IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and popular bands in a beachside festival environment.

Thanks to its loyal audience and sizable turnout, multiple attempts have been made to acquire Kalkhoven’s half of the event since his passing in 2022, all with a corresponding hope of being able to purchase Forsythe’s half as well.

According to Forsythe, his steadfast refusal to sell has acted as a deterrent to some of those who’ve contacted the estate.

“I haven’t been involved in any of the exercise relative to selling that 50 percent,” he said. “Pierre Wildmon was Kevin [Kalkhoven’s] right-hand man and he has been responsible for the estate effort. And I know a lot of people have looked at it because he’d come to me and say, ‘So-and-so would like to take a look.’ And I think there’s probably four or five. But the financials didn’t justify the number that they were asking for it. And quite frankly, I’ve overpaid for it.

“But just to eliminate any other options, I made it clear to everybody that Pierre’s talked to that I’m not interested in selling. So who’s going to buy 50 percent, because you can’t control anything? And I think that may be the reasons that some people have walked away.”

With his direct involvement in the CART IndyCar Series starting in 1981 as an entrant and sponsor, Forsythe achieved great success in the sport and won the 2003 CART championship with Paul Tracy.

Although he sold Champ Car in 2008 to the Hulman George family, former owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series, Forsythe has maintained his stewardship of the Long Beach Grand Prix and his dedication to IndyCar remains firm.

Despite having no interest in selling the event to NASCAR, Liberty Media, or Penske Entertainment, Forsythe says he wants to ensure IndyCar has a stable home as the event heads towards its 50th anniversary in 2025 and beyond.

“That’s correct. That’s very important,” he said. “It is the top street course in the United States, and as far as fans, it draws more than any other race but the Indianapolis 500. Next year is the 50th year and we’re doing a lot of new things to celebrate it. We’re planning big, big things for next year.”

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