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 Columns & Editorials

May 14, 2002

Charlotte County Speedway Fate in Judge's Hands?

By Jack Smith

The last few years have been rough for Charlotte County race fans, and for the racers who put on the weekly shows. While majority stockholder in the corporation, Glenn VanHorn, has tried to sell the speedway, the fans and racers have had to endure a continuous legal battle and verbal feud between VanHorn and the man who built the speedway, Leroy Davidson.

They have had to endure an interim track operator appointed by VanHorn, Johnathon Abernathy, and under whose management many of the long time racers and fans were essentially run off.

Over the last eight months two attorneys from Naples, Chris and Victoria Felden, along with partner Peter Drinkwater, entered into an agreement to operate the speedway, and one in which they hoped would lead to a purchase. Negotiations with the Charlotte County Airport, which owns the property, and VanHorn have been almost continuous.

In the midst of it all has been the ongoing legal battle between Davidson and VanHorn over the actual number of shares each owns and compensation Davidson felt he deserved.

Finally, on Friday April 26 Chris and Victoria Felden, Leroy Davidson and Glen VanHorn went into a mediation session with a court appointed mediator in Charlotte County. According to Chris Felden and Peter Drinkwater there followed a full day of discussions with agreements being reached with all parties, to settle all the legal matters.

Leroy Davidson was to receive compensation for his shares of stock in Charlotte County Speedway, INC. as well as compensation for some of the losses incurred by Davidson, at least according to the Felden's and Davidson.

The Felden's, who have been operating the speedway since August 2001, were to receive full ownership of the speedway and its shares of stock from Glenn VanHorn. All of the provisions of the agreements were to be met by Monday, May 13, 2002 at 12:00 noon, this according to Peter Drinkwater.

In a letter sent to KARNAC.com on Saturday, May 11, Leroy Davidson had this say, "This Monday, May 13, 2002 by 12:00 noon, I am supposed to receive my check for payoff and some compensation for some of my losses. I said I would never give in and leave but, under the circumstances, I feel that in the near future there won’t be a Charlotte County Speedway, INC. and then I would lose all anyway."

But none of this is true according to VanHorn.

On Monday evening we spoke with Glenn VanHorn and he denied knowing about any injunction from the Courts stating, "No we can go on to the property, but we are waiting on the court to make a decision, from what I hear. We were in negotiations today and we will be again tomorrow".

When asked if he had reached an agreement with Davidson to buy his shares of stock he said, "No, we haven't, it's being negotiated just like all the rest of it."

When asked if a resolution to the dispute was reached during the marathon mediation hearing VanHorn simply stated "It did not".

"The terms that were agreed to have not been lived up to, under the the time limits.” stated VanHorn

When asked what terms were not lived up to VanHorn said, "I can't discuss this it's under litigation, negotiations are still going on."

The injunction from the Judge in the case came as a result of the weekend's actions by VanHorn.

Things at the speedway had reached the boiling point on Friday, May 10th when VanHorn, accompanied by Larry Moyer of the FastTrucks racing series and several other people went to the speedway, took the keys from Ronnie Bacelo, Charlotte's General Manager under the Felden's operation, and essentially took back the speedway.

The incident involved the Charlotte County Sheriff's Department and eventually led to all racing activities closing for the weekend. Quite a few of the fans and racers made their way up to DeSoto Speedway for the evening.

On Monday morning Attorney Chris Felden and Peter Drinkwater went into court in Charlotte County. The Judge overseeing the case was in trial for most of the day but late in the afternoon, finally issued an injunction allowing them (the Felden's)to "run the track without interference from VanHorn", and "forbidding him from disrupting the operation of the speedway", according to the Drinkwater.

KARNAC.com has also learned that VanHorn has approached at least two new parties in order to arrange to sell them the speedway, this coming since the mediation.

The Felden’s have announced that practice for the drivers will be free of charge for the remainder of the month of May.

For now it appears the Courts will decide the future for the Charlotte County racers, and have to unravel the truth.

We expect to hear more from the Courts this week and will follow up as new developments occur.

-Jack Smith

Charlotte County Speedway website

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