The life and times of Evan Knoll were mercurial in racing. At one time, he and his businesses, including Torco Racing Fuels, were everywhere you looked when it came to marketing and advertising. There seemed to be no end to his effusive brands and his ability to fund sponsorships, especially in drag racing, for almost anyone.
Torco Racing Fuels and Knoll Gas were relatively small businesses that were run as any small successful operation would. But the friendly and gregarious Knoll loved drag racing and drag racing loved Knoll's almost charitable bounty. As the song from Kool & The Gang said: "Party here, party there, everywhere". It was a party indeed.
It was less than ten years ago that Knoll burst on to the racing scene with what seemed an endless cash reserve, partnering with both small and large teams. The infusion of funds appeared to come out of nowhere. Several millions of dollars were distributed year-in and year-out for sponsorships in every walk of drag racing life with dozens and dozens of teams being supported by Knoll's seemingly generous business.
Then to compound the outwardly wealthy situation, Knoll started purchasing many of the teams he was sponsoring. Knoll was always partying with a lavish lifestyle. Tens of millions of dollars were being pumped out of the Michigan based business - until the end came … and quickly.
About five years ago, monies were getting tight around the same time the Great Recession drew nearer. Then all sponsorships and funding for racing were halted. Many were shocked and upset that funding was pulled out from underneath them. There were no more excesses and for those of us who always wondered where the dollars were coming from, it all started to make 'cents'.
Federal agents raided Knoll's companies four years ago. The IRS stated that he bilked the government for more than $80 million. Last year, the U.S. government filed charges against Knoll for tax-fraud. Knoll pled not guilty. Without getting into the specifics, the alleged fraud occurred when Knoll created a method for producing false accounts to the IRS. He would then receive refunds on an excise tax and in-turn used those funds to achieve bank loans.
The big house
This week in federal court Knoll pleaded guilty to bank fraud, admitting he falsified documents to receive refunds on tax-exempt fuel sales he purportedly made (source - WOOD). In court, Knoll acknowledged he devised the plan himself, deceiving those around him, including employees, accountants, banks and of course the government. Said Knoll: "I take full responsibility for my company. I'm sorry." (Source - WWMT)
Nearly everything that Knoll owned has been auctioned off including racecars, boats, planes and big houses.
Evan Knoll's sentencing hearing will be in November when he'll be facing heavy fines and up to 70 years in federal prison. The party's over.
Source - Associated Press, Michigan Live
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
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