Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Show Me The Money!

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 21, 2010 at 10:35 pm Indy Lights, open wheel racing news

Over the last month or so, I’ve received an email from three separate drivers confirming that they are awaiting a refund from Team PBIR following the cancellation of the Team PBIR Rookie Challenge.  Perhaps the most troubling part of this quagmire is that both Ron Dixon and Kane Williams have refused to offer any sort of response on the situation – to me or any of the drivers awaiting a promised refund.  Both Ron and Kane have done a tremendous job in the past helping young race drivers so the current situation is inexplicably out-of-character for the duo.

For those who don’t know, Team PBIR was planning a “Rookie Challenge” that was scheduled to take place just over a month ago.  Competitors, who paid the entry fee of $7,500, were to be evaluated on and off the track.  The prize for the winner/s was to include a USF2000 ride for the top driver under the age of 18.  The top performing driver over the age of 18 was going to be awarded a Indy Lights ride with Team PBIR in 2010.  The official details of the prize were left somewhat unclear with the press release simply stating, “Winners become part of Team PBIR’s USF 2000 and Firestone Indy Lights campaigns”.

Unfortunately, the event was cancelled without a real explanation from anyone at Team PBIR.  It was rumored that the program lost one or more of their major financial backers.

According to my sources, in the event of cancellation, all participants were promised a full-refund -or- the opportunity to participate in a two-day test at Putnam Park entitled the Team PBIR Driver Academy – which included training time with PitFit’s Jim Leo.  Seven drivers took part in the Team PBIR Driver Academy.  The drivers who were unable or unwilling to attend the Driver Academy test were promised, by all reports available, a full refund for their Rookie Challenge entry fee (valued a $7,500 each).  One driver also reported to have received an un-signed “Promissory Note” from Ron Dixon that stated all monies owed would be paid in full by April 20th, 2010 or before.  Unfortunately an un-signed “Promissory Note” is worthless and said driver has yet to receive any kind of a refund from Team PBIR.

Stranger yet, is the fact that Team PBIR has fielded two cars in the last two Indy Lights events (Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach).  Mind you, this is taking place while still reportedly owing a total of at least $22,500 (3 confirmed drivers @ $7,500 each).  The scariest part is there could be even more drivers out there who have yet to come forward.

Now in fairness, it’s important for me to note and remind you that I haven’t been able to get in contact with anyone from Team PBIR, despite repeated attempts.  So, this story is relatively one sided.  That said, the silence from the Team PBIR camp is very worrisome.

All three of the drivers who contacted me have not appeared in any racing series this season and likely won’t as that $7,500 was an integral part of their 2010 racing budget.  I remain hopeful that this is all just a simple mix-up and that things will be straightened out soon but things aren’t looking good.  It’s a shame to think that a respected team promising to help young drivers progress up the motorsports ladder, would instead derail the dreams of several promising drivers all together.

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10 Comments

  1. Mark Boudreau on April 21, 2010 11:28 pm

    What were the terms of the contract when these drivers signed up for the challenge? It doesn’t matter what they were verbally promised neccessarily but what were Team PBIR contractually obliged to produce in exchange for their $7500? And what did the contract say they were obliged to do if the challenge was cancelled? Did offering participation in the Driver Academy fullfill their legal obligations to the drivers, regardless of whether they took advantage of it or not?

    If Team PBIR are in fact in breach of contract to these drivers that is actionable in a court of law and they would know this. As with any contractual situation like this, negotiating a settlement would be the first priority with the implicit understanding that reference to a court of law might be required if the obligations under the contract cannot or have not been met. These drivers would be best served by discussing the matter with an attorney to determine their next move unless their money is refunded in short order.

  2. Speedy on April 22, 2010 4:29 am

    Obviously this will deter further participation in any event that PBIR conducts. I wouldn’t fork over any $ to PBIR knowing they stuck these people out of their $. Nobody is looking for a driver academy, they wanted a shot at wining a shootout and a free ride. This is just wrong.

  3. One Race Fan on April 22, 2010 5:52 pm

    I have personally seen the contract agreement that was given to one of the drivers by Kane Williams. It clearly states, “Should the Rookie Challenge not take place the full entry fee will be refunded within one week.” There was no mention of a substitute deal. The offer for the “Drivers Academy” came as an option to the drivers after the event was cancelled. I am aware of at least one driver who has retained legal counsel and is now moving forward to press charges against PBIR.

  4. Mark Boudreau on April 22, 2010 8:21 pm

    Sounds like breach of contract to me and yes, I am a lawyer although you don’t have to be one to realize that unfortunately.

  5. Oben on April 26, 2010 1:38 pm

    I’m not a lawyer, but used to do subcontracting work in construction, where getting stiffed by home builders/contractors was fairly common. With all due respect to M. Boudreau, I would never go to small claims court over $7,500, and don’t know any other subcontractors that would.

    We insisted on 50% of the total cost for the work we were doing, up front. That way we could just walk away without being ruined by the high cost of the materials (marble, granite) that we used. Needless to say, we made sure everybody else in the business knew that a particular general contractor had failed to pay, which is what these drivers are doing to PBIR.

    These kids are basically screwed until PBIR has enough liquidity to make good on their debts. I have a hard time believing that Ron Dixon won’t, ultimately, do just that, if for no other reason that to save his son the embarrassment.

  6. Kiwi on May 1, 2010 11:16 pm

    Unfortunately you can add my name to the list. And being a Kiwi didn’t help.

    We’re also waiting for our refund – paid in advance for an event which never happened. We were promised a refund verbally and by email – nothing so far.

    Like others, I’d have thought it was in PBIR’s interest to give the money back, or this story will receive more coverage.

    If anyone is organising a joint legal action, put your contact details on this site and I will get in touch.

  7. Robert Crouch on May 3, 2010 10:47 am

    They owe me money too. I drove the truck with the tools and cars to the races and practices. I also worked on the cars with my 13 year old son. My wife did the trucking paperwork and did inventory on the cars and tools. We also helped move the team to their new shop. I was the one that brought the sponsor to them that was on the cars the last two races. I didn’t get my finder’s fee or percentage of the sponsorship. If you want to contact me my phone number is 317-445-1226.

  8. kiwi race fan on May 4, 2010 2:30 pm

    Ron Dixon uses his sons fame to con everyone, how can a bankrupt person from NZ hold high company positions in the states, maybe imigration and the NZ tax man should look at him

  9. Jan Kipnis on May 7, 2010 11:36 am

    Ron Dixon is a piece of crap. The rig that was half assed wraped was stolen from and taken across state lines by him. the wrap he stole from me cost 20k! He also sold over $200K defruading investors and us with an attorney who we paid to sell off 2 containers of killer oil to re pay all of us, that he owned no 1% of and was paid as was his so called great atter in NZ. PBIR is a pure Joke. Do a lien search on Moroso Investment partners roman numbered 1,2,3,4, the last count was over 100 claims! Too bad a few more Kiwis dont see this who he cleaned out like Christena Orr family. He has been woring in the usa lieing about having a work visa while he was getting paid by PBIR 175K a year not paying taxes in the USA or New Zealand! Justice will be served soon because he is a phony lieing thief. To Mark B attorney we are saying all of this because we welcome any court action claiming slander, because the truth is not slander! He should be charged buy us all. It’s called grand thieft. I would take the dixon un signed promissory as an ommision of guilt to the police, as long as its in another state. Fraud by wire comes to mind for anyone who wired money or if it was mailed, that is fraud also. Kane too. These 2 guys can talk anyone out of thier money buy their name dropping, these are all mostly lies. anyone can e mail me at janf355@aol.com

  10. jan kipnis on May 13, 2010 11:13 am

    I have had a large response, sorry if you did not get my response because the spam filter stopped several. please resend your e mails again , I have changed the protection system. Thank you Jan

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