A Goldman Sachs-sponsored car racing event for hedge-fund types in Palm Beach, Fla., was thrown into chaos last week after the track — owned by a Texas-based buyout firm — slammed the brakes at the last minute, sources told On The Money.
About 30 financiers — among them execs from Goldman, according to sources — had assembled at the Palm Beach International Raceway with Ferraris, Porsches and even a vintage DeLorean that appeared to hail from “Back to The Future,” fitted with mock rocket engines protruding from the back.
The idea was for car-obsessed money managers to take turns racing at speeds of more than 100 mph around the track. “You can expect a fabulous time of deal making, track racing, fine food & drink at our social,” according to a flyer for the Dec. 9 fundraiser circulated by the Palm Beach Hedge Fund Association.
But around 6 p.m. last Thursday, just as engines were revving up, the crowd of wannabe Richard Pettys learned they wouldn’t be racing, after all, after paying track fees of $300 each.
“This turned into a car show instead of a race,” one disappointed driver griped. “Maybe they didn’t want to be associated with middle-aged men driving Ferraris at 200 mph.”
Indeed, liability was the issue — and it cropped up at the last minute despite six months of planning by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach, which had rented the track and applied weeks ago for a track-recommended insurance policy, sources said.
The trouble began in mid-November when the track told the Boys and Girls Clubs that Hooked on Driving — a firm that teaches novice drivers how to race on the track — was backing out of the event in favor of a gig in Daytona Beach, sources said.
In response to the snafu, the Boys and Girls Club called Neil London, president of Palm Beach’s SuperCar Week, to step in.
London said he helped put together liability forms in addition to creating buzz. But last Wednesday, the track — owned by San Francisco-based Sixth Street Partners, headed by former Goldman partner Alan Waxman — said its insurer refused to offer insurance for the cadre of lead-footed, well-heeled drivers.
A rep for Sixth Street, which also owns Hooked on Driving, declined to comment.
In the end, only a small handful of drivers — namely, those who already had memberships at the Palm Beach track — got to race as a crowd of about 200 sipped cocktails and eyeballed the rest of the cars idled in the parking lot, London said.
“I tried to help. I’m on the phone until 6 p.m. Thursday” trying to arrange insurance through the broker he uses for his own car shows, London told The Post. “Here’s six months of planning down the tubes.”
David Goodboy, founder of the Palm Beach Hedge Fund Association, told The Post, “The event was a great success,” declining to comment further.
The Boys and Girls Club and Goldman declined to comment.