Panther sues IndyCar, Rahal over sponsorship

In this April 21, 2013 file photo, Graham Rahal (15) gestures at the Indy Car Series' Grand Prix of Long Beach auto race in Long Beach, Calif. The long battle between Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Panther Racing for Army National Guard sponsorship ended Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014,with the coveted funding moving to Graham Rahal's car for the upcoming IndyCar season. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
In this April 21, 2013 file photo, Graham Rahal (15) gestures at the Indy Car Series' Grand Prix of Long Beach auto race in Long Beach, Calif. The long battle between Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Panther Racing for Army National Guard sponsorship ended Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014,with the coveted funding moving to Graham Rahal's car for the upcoming IndyCar season. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A changing of the guard in IndyCar has one racing team suing another and the league itself.

I-Team 8 obtained the lawsuit documents Friday.

Panther is suing another team, the league, a contractor and a member of the guard in what the lawsuit calls “conspiracy.”

The National Guard sponsorship in IndyCar is worth millions. Panther had the deal for the last five years until Rahal Letterman Lanigan won the $13 million sponsorship this year.

With subheadings such as “Docupak and RLL interfere with Panthers contract,” the 48 page document is very detailed.

Being sued are Docupak (the National Guard’s contract provider), Rahal Letterman Racing, Indy Racing League, and the National Guard’s John Metzler.

The suit alleges Rahal Letterman hired  National Guard Employee John Metzler to get the  National Guard sponsorship. In his role with the National Guard, “Metzler was privy to detailed information concerning Panthers contract,” the suit states.

The suit alleges Metzler knew Panthers “trade secrets” and was promised a $125,000 salary with the Rahal team for “compensation for providing inside information and improper influence”.

I-Team 8 has asked the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC if there was, or still is, an ongoing investigation into the bidding process. I-Team 8 asked again Friday, but received no response.

The lawsuit confirms there is an Army investigation into “Metzler’s apparent violation of federal law” for “improperly aiding Rahal Letterman in the bidding process”.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan issued a statement calling the situation “unfortunate and disappointing.” They go on to say they believe the suit has “no merit” and vowed to defend itself “vigorously.”

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