Fast and furious: Red Bull still owes for racing event, flying club claims

Seven months after Red Bull Global Rallycross left Ottawa, the Rockcliffe Flying Club says it still hasn't been paid $20,000.

Red Bull Global Rallycross says it sent cheque last month, but flying club still waiting

The general manager of the Rockcliffe Flying Club said he took a major financial hit from the Red Bull Global Rallycross event on his premises on June 17-18, 2017. (Red Bull Global Rally Cross)

UPDATE:  Nearly eight hours after this story was published Friday, the Rockcliffe Flying Club received a cheque for the full amount owed.


Seven months after Red Bull Global Rallycross left Ottawa, the Rockcliffe Flying Club, one of the hosts, says it still hasn't been paid $20,000. 

Incredibly frustrating. For a small not-for-profit like us, [it's] a huge hit to our ability to pay our staff.- Chris Ricci, GM & Chief Flight Instructor at Rockcliffe Flying Club

"Incredibly frustrating," said Chris Ricci, general manager and chief flight instructor. "For a small not-for-profit like us, [it's] a huge hit to our ability to pay our staff."

The race car series featuring Supercar drivers from around the world drew thousand of spectators to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum this past June for two days of racing. The event was promoted as an Ottawa 2017 signature event. 

The Rockcliffe flying club shut down its runway — its main source of income — for five days so that the series could make its Canadian debut.

Staff were paid overtime to relocate planes and take down signs and lighting to accommodate the event's racetrack, stands and vehicles, he said. 

"At the end of the day, [we] received absolutely nothing for it," said Ricci. "In fact, we lost five days worth of revenue."

The club expected to be paid before the Rallycross organizers started setting up the track, Ricci said. But workers with the series arrived days early without notice and started work.

When the event wrapped up, organizers left and still hadn't paid the bill, according to Ricci.

For the past seven months the flying club has been hounding Red Bull and organizers of the Global Rallycross (GRC) to pay up. But Ricci said they hasn't received as much as a phone call or email back saying when that might happen. 

Chris Ricci is general manager and chief flight instructor at the Rockliffe Flying Club. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Cheque sent after six months, company says

It wasn't until after CBC News contacted GRC on Thursday that Ricci said he finally heard from the company.

Chip Pankow, Global Rallycross's founder and chief operating officer, told CBC News in an email the company settled the bill in January.

"Rockcliffe was sent a cheque earlier this month," Pankow wrote.

But Ricci told Global Rallycross Thursday that staff with the Rockcliffe Flying Club have been checking the mail daily and never received that envelope. 
Red Bull Global Rally Cross says it sent a cheque six months after the event in Ottawa to the Rockcliffe Flying Club. The club said they never received it. (Red Bull Global Rally Cross)

Hours later, GRC said they looked into the matter further and said the Jan 4. cheque was apparently never received.

The company said it is now cancelling that cheque and would re-issue a new one and send it out "immediately."

Ricci remains unimpressed.

"It's a bit surprising and convenient that a few minutes after they are contacted by a reporter that suddenly there's a cheque in the mail," Ricci said.

GRC did not respond to CBC's questions about why it took the company more than six months to settle the bill and why it had not responded to the flying club before Thursday.

Suppliers are getting paid, says Ottawa 2017 head

The head of Ottawa 2017, Guy Laflamme, said he heard about the flying club's issue a month ago and was assured by Red Bull that "they were getting this resolved."

He said he is not aware of any other vendors not being paid. 

"All our suppliers with justified invoices have been paid diligently," Laflamme wrote in an email to CBC News.

Steve Ball, a co-chair with Ottawa 2017's board of directors, said there are talks in the works to have a number of events from 2017 return in 2018, including the Global Rallycross Race.

With files from Laura Osman