Austin MotoGP Deal In Turmoil: Kevin Schwantz Sues Texas Track Owners

The chances of a MotoGP round taking place in Austin, Texas seem further away than ever. Yesterday, Kevin Schwantz filed suit against the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), claiming an attempt to fraudulently deprive the 1993 500cc World Champion of the rights to organize the MotoGP race to be organized at the circuit outside of Austin, Texas. In the lawsuit, Schwantz accuses COTA of going behind his back to arrange a deal directly with Dorna to organize the Austin round of MotoGP, while Schwantz' company, 3fourTexasMGP, has a ten-year contract to organize the race. In a statement issued tonight by the circuit press office, COTA denies that Schwantz holds any rights to organize the event.

The problem appears to stem from the falling out between the one of the driving forces behind the project, Tavo Hellmund, and Bobby Epstein, who raised the funds to get the circuit built and secure the Formula One race scheduled for November this year. That dispute centered around money that Hellmund felt he should have been paid, and which Epstein believed he was not entitled to. The suit was eventually settled earlier this year, in an out-of-court settlement between the two parties. However, because the terms of the settlement were not made public, there is still no clear evidence of exactly who owns what rights to which races at the circuit. If those rights were renegotiated as part of the settlement, that is not currently public knowledge.

Schwantz appears to have been caught up in the middle of this. The original press release was clear. The statement issued by Dorna and published on the MotoGP.com website states that a ten-year deal had been reached between Dorna, Full Throttle LLP (the company owned by Tavo Hellmund) and Schwantz' company 3fourTexasMGP. That would appear to imply that Schwantz does indeed have a contract to organize the race, though the circuit denies this is the case.

The dispute could throw plans for the 2013 schedule into turmoil. With news emerging that Dorna was planning to keep all four races in Spain for 2013, despite earlier promises to cut back to just three in Spain, it had been expected that a provisional calendar could appear at the next round of MotoGP in Misano next week. The Austin round had been expected to take place early in the season, in the slot vacated by Estoril, and be run back-to-back with the Argentinian Grand Prix. However, if no agreement can be reached on the race, or if the race is under threat of legal action, the race could be scrapped, or at least postponed for a year until the legal situation clears up. No Dorna reaction has yet been forthcoming on the afffair.

Below are the statements on the affair issued by Kevin Schwantz through his press agent, and by the Circuit of the Americas:


Statement by Kevin Schwantz

“I have devoted over 25 years of my life to MotoGP, the premier motorcycle road racing world championship. I spent four of those years bringing MotoGP to Texas, my home state. As a result, MotoGP agreed in 2011 to host an annual race at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track.

I’m sorry to say that COTA is now attempting to unlawfully force me out of this project. I believe COTA has committed fraud in doing so. Earlier today, I took legal action against COTA. I was forced to file this lawsuit in order to protect my rights, my reputation, and MotoGP itself.

I want to see MotoGP come to Texas, but I cannot allow COTA to take advantage of me. More important, I will not sit idly by while a newcomer to racing discredits the sport I love.”

--Kevin Schwantz, President of 3fourTexasMGP, LLC


Circuit of The Americas™ issues statement regarding Schwantz lawsuit

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 8, 2012) – Circuit of The Americas today released the following statement regarding the recent lawsuit filed by Kevin Schwantz related to promotional rights he claims to possess for a MotoGP race in Texas.

“It makes no sense for Mr. Schwantz to pursue legal action in this matter. We were informed by DORNA, the organization that holds the rights for the MotoGP racing series, that Mr. Schwantz has no contract to promote a MotoGP race in Texas,” Circuit spokesperson Julie Loignon said. “To be clear, Mr. Schwantz never had an agreement to conduct a MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas, and to our knowledge, he has no agreement to conduct an event at any Texas racetrack. Perhaps, that is why he is reacting this way, out of embarrassment, and is making false claims to the court and media.

“We know race fans would love to see a MotoGP event at the Circuit, and it is good to know that the door is open to make that happen at our new world-class venue in Austin.”

About Circuit of The Americas

Circuit of The Americas will be a world-class destination for performance, entertainment, education and business. It will be the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing, from motor power to human power, and be the U.S. home to the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ Nov. 16-18.

The Circuit of The Americas’ master plan features a variety of permanent structures designed for business, education, entertainment and race use. Its signature element will be a 3.4-mile circuit track. Other support buildings will include an expansive outdoor live music space, a conference center, a banquet hall as well as a state-of-the-art medical facility. Future proposed amenities include a driving/riding experience, a motorsports driving club, kart track, grand plaza event center and tower, and a trackside recreational vehicle park. For more information and downloadable video, audio and photos, visit: www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com.

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Comments

David, since you're gladly willing to point us to all the problems that come to us from the manufacturers, it would be nice if you could also put the same amount of effort to point us to all the problems that come from the organizers. I think that a lot of articles had been written on this site on the subject of the manufacturers, but a few or even none on the subject of the bad moves from the organizers. Four races in Spain for 2013 is certanly a bad move. There is no doubt that Carmelo Ezpeleta lied when he said that there will be three races. This is not Spanish MotoGP.

It would be nice if you could write impartially about all the problems the series, and not demonize one side (manufacturers), and extolled and praised the other side (Dorna), although it is quite clear that the other side is not doing good job!

Total votes: 94

But there are problems with new track (legal) . And to be honest, Indianapolis should be scraped. So Texas would be great option. But I don˙t know why every thing in USA have to be marked with lawsuits.

I agree that Dorna is making bad decisions. But I dont really care about new tracks. I do care about new teams in series.

Less hype around tracks, more hype around rules.

My opinion.

Total votes: 78

re: "Four races in Spain for 2013 is certanly a bad move."

since you mention "demonizing", how about we stop having a go at spain... eh...? wanna know WHY spain has 3, 4, and 5 rounds...? it's because spain HAS made a conscious choice to support motorcycling. wanna know why you're upset...? because your country HASN'T made a conscious choice to support motorcycling. the solution is to either A. come off the dime, or B. complainers to shut their cake holes. there is no 3rd option.

Total votes: 82

Spain is all over motorcycle racing. They do take this sport very, very personal. We can see that. And I respect that.

But for MotoGP to grow and get more financial support.. we do need people from other parts of the world.

I would like to see Nürburgring in the action. And new Moscow track. USA and Spain are not the only countries that are interesting. We the viewers are from all over the world.

LP

Total votes: 76

I'd love to see Sachsenring replaced with Nurburgring but no Moscow please no Moscow. I had high hopes for that track but it's better suited as a go kart track. It proved to be a to short with too many curves for WSBK and it would only be worse with MotoGP bikes.

Total votes: 74

It was only a part of the track. Short version of full track. For motoGP, full track is great.

Full Nurburgring would be epic. But we would never saw that.

Total votes: 65

Who are you and where are you from? Surely you're not an American. From East to West and North to South, the United States is chocked full of race participants and fans.
The diffefence is we do not have Government supported programs. Now that Spain is just about broke and with a near 30% unemployment rate, I suspect they will no longer have these programs either.
I suspect given your English your from Great Britian. Who was your last world Champion? Wasn't GB just celebrating your country's first podium in 12 years. Right. How's your country's commitment to racing faring for you then?

I am guess you're the same guy spouting that jingoistic nonsense a few weeks ago about CEII's helmet - if it wasn't you I suspect you voted it 5 stars.

Unfortunately this site has way too many haters lately spewing anti-US BS. David is becoming a victim of his own success with loudmouths like you finding their way here.

And lastly, there is always a third option; it just involves you putting something else in that "cakehole" of yours.

Total votes: 101

That is load of ****. I am not from UK. But to make fun of UK riders... I would say you never saw British SuperBike or TT Isle of man. And WSBK is under attack from UK. Spain and UK are the a force to be reckoned with in the future. Huge rider input.

Total votes: 68

Was directed at normgshamarone, the fool you seemed to agree with.
However, aren't you the same one that broke down a few weeks ago because someone called Dani "pedrobot?" or something just as silly?

So while the comment was not intended for you, you seem to agree with your "true" response.

And not sure why you cite BSB and SBK to a statement made about MGP - didn't SBK recently send a 2x World Champ from England to MGP? How did that turn out?

And why would you mention the IOM when talking about short course roadracing ?

Total votes: 61

Dear normgshamarone

You totally missed the point of my post. My post was some kind of appeal for Mr. David Emmett who clearly support one side and demonizing the other. I've used 'four races in Spain' just as an example that Dorna doesn't fulfill its promises and that is not doing good job.

I think he needs to write objectively about the problems of the entire series, which would be very professional, but unfortunately this is not the case. He is no different from a hired gunman. Dorna's hired gunman.

Total votes: 87

The article does mention that Dorna has gone back on their promises. What is not being reported?

Total votes: 76

Instead of jumping down his throat and suggesting David is biased perhaps you should just be happy that he takes the time to write what are, in my opinion, some of the best MotoGP/WSBK articles on the web (implies objectivity). And maybe you should also consider that you are perhaps the one who is biased... as that's what comes across from your posts, if you were to look at them objectively.

Total votes: 78

@nick881

This site is one of the best on the web. I've never claimed otherwise. I am a regular visitor, this is obvious. I wrote what bothers me and I do not see what is the problem with that.

Total votes: 69

Just because I blame the MSMA for wrecking the sport - which seems reasonable; after all, they made the technical rules for the past 10 years which has led us down this technological blind alley - that does not mean I am on Dorna's side. I have been public in my criticism of Dorna's failure to promote the sport properly and generate the revenue needed. But you probably missed that.

Total votes: 93

First, I want to say that I really appreciate your work. This site is one of the best on the web. I am a regular visitor for a few years now.

Second, what bothers me and why I think you're on the Dorna's side, is because you constantly write about MSMA on this site, and the problems that they have made to the entire series, but very little attention is paid to Dorna, and the problems that they have created. If you are constantly writing about one side, you automatically demonize the other. That is my problem.

It's true, sometimes you're writing about Dorna's failure to promote the sport properly and generate the revenue that's needed, but that's always somewhere on the margin. I've never saw a big, fat, juicy article about that.

I'd love to see that you write with equal fervor about the problems of a whole series, and not only about one side. Every coin has two sides.

Finally, I would like to say that the greatest value of this site is that I can write to you and share with you my opinion. Thank you for that.

Total votes: 78

David, what would happen if you were to write something unfavorable and revealing about Dorna?

It's one thing to say Dorna doesn't promote the sport, or Dorna hasn't generated enough revenue. You're basically just singing along with the chorus. But what if your editorials went beyond established criticism? How easy would it be for Dora to shut you down?

I am not belittling your work in any way. Your website and commentary are my favorites by far. I'm just inviting you to elaborate on the delicate nature of your situation. We know Dorna forced you to change your URL. What else might happen to you if you were to displease Dorna?

Of course if you prefer not to elaborate on delicate relations, I think everyone here will understand. We might make a few inferences, too. :-)

Total votes: 67

The great thing about the internet is that I could run this site without access from Dorna if I had to. I have criticized Dorna in the past and I will criticize them in the future. Dorna couldn't shut me down, they could only take my pass. That would be bad, but survivable. The quality of the site might suffer a little, but I also believe that if my pass was taken from me for criticizing Dorna, that would generate a lot of negative publicity for them, more than if they let me write what I want to.

My main beef with the people criticizing Dorna is that they are blaming Dorna for things which are not their fault. The MSMA, and especially Honda, have been making the technical regulations for the past 10 years, and have got us to the point where there are only 12 full prototypes on the grid. People are blaming Dorna for the rule changes; those rule changes were not Dorna's fault. Dorna's main failing in all of this is in giving away the power to make technical rules in the first place. The deal was that the factories would fill the grid if they were allowed to make the rules. The MSMA have reneged on that deal repeatedly.

There is a lot of complaining about the number of races in Spain. This is understandable, and it is indeed not compatible with a real world championship. But the trouble is that the safety standards for MotoGP are so high that there are very few tracks which would be approved for a race to be run. Even the incredibly high-tech Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi can't get approval. In Spain, there are five tracks which are approved to MotoGP standard, and a relatively small amount of money could bring another two or three up to scratch. My April Fool's story from earlier this year was only marginally tongue in cheek. Compare that to, say, Australia, and there's only really one circuit up to the job. Indonesia - where MotoGP and WSBK must go to secure their future - do not have a single track where they can safely race. At the moment. Spain and Italy have the tracks and can bring in the crowds. Is this a desirable situation? Absolutely not! Is Dorna to blame here? Only partially. But Dorna are working to fix the Spanish domination of MotoGP, with the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Look at the Moto3 class: already there is a much greater mix of nationalities in the top echelons of the sport. Things are improving.

But where Dorna have really failed is in raising sponsorship. They have relied on the global phenomenon that is Valentino Rossi to help sell TV rights. Rossi's time at Ducati, and his failure to perform there, have shown what will happen when Rossi retires: falling TV numbers and falling interest. To their credit, the new technical regulations Dorna are trying to introduce are aimed at bringing some excitement back into racing, and strengthen TV revenues again.

The real weakness remains selling the sport to sponsors. Dorna should be leading this, and should be helping the teams. Instead, they focus on obtaining title sponsors for races that suit them, not on finding matches to the market and helping teams find sponsors. Dorna have failed to capitalize on the sport, and sell it as a product. Their job is to raise money: they have not been raising money. That is what people should be blaming Dorna for. Not introducing the 800s, or fuel limits, or engine restrictions, or any of the other rules made by the MSMA.

 

Total votes: 81

To see posters blatantly accusing David of bias. This site contains the most balanced, in depth and insightful articles about motogp you can find on the web.

If David writes more about the manufacturers than he does about the series organiser it's because the problems with technical rules and manufacturer participation in motogp dwarf those created by having four races in Spain so is it strange to see more articles on that subject? That's not bias that's reporting on the current affairs of the sport.

It does seem at times that a thousand monkeys working at a thousand keyboards have managed to type in www.motomatters.com and register and post on the forums ;-) maybe I'm one of em!

Total votes: 75

Thank you David for again pointing out that the situation Gp is in, is down to the MSMA. I've become very tired of reading Carmelo Ezpeleta bashing, and DORNA bashing in general, especially as it relates to CRT. All of us would rather have a full grid of prototypes so he had to do something.

You showed yourself being unbiased earlier this year when Stoner was complaining about the rules (wish I could find that article) and you wrote an article that someone needed to explain to him that it was DORNA, and specifically Honda, who was at fault.

Total votes: 64

We have one problem with two parts. That's clear. MSMA has led us to technological blind alley, and Dorna has failed to raise sponsorship. To me, these are two parts of one problem which led us to only 12 full prototypes on the grid. I'm not blaming only MSMA for that because Dorna has it's share in it to.

David, I'm not criticizing Dorna, I just want that you write with equal fervor about the problems of a whole series, and not only about one side. Both sides are equally to blame for the situation that we are in now. That's my point.

Total votes: 76

Enough said. (That's a great way of explaining rather simple phenomenon. Why can't people get it? Also, criticism of one entity isn't necessarily praise of another. People needn't hear what David isn't saying. Simply assuming the best of him would suffice. He certainly has earned the benefit of the doubt with his peerless reporting over the past few years. But then again, most of the "spelling and punctuationally-challenged" horde of clattering buttocks hammering out their nonsense posts haven't been here but a few hours, so they don't know the luminary of our sport about whom they make such ridiculous accusations.)

Total votes: 65

Well, that's a great post Crimson Tide. Post of a man or should I write "expert" who is coming to this site for years. Your post is full of shallow wisdom which would be good if you haven't actually tried to be wise.

I don't think that David needs wooden lawyers. I also think that he doesn't need defense (and especially not you to do it) because no one attacks him.

Besides, I don't see how you are involved in this discussion. I asked David something and he answered me, which is great! I don't see what is the problem?

Total votes: 67

Always with the "Indy needs to go!" comments. Obviously there is a lot more to organizing a GP than simply having a track. Indy has had the race for 5 years running with 2 more coming. "Bad" track or not, the people at Indy have the desire to have a GP race at their track. You ever see MotoGP on the 11 o clock news? You do in Indy. COTA could take a lesson from Indy in organizing an event. My opinion.

Total votes: 77

Dear spdzlla

Oh yes it is!

A Spanish company runs the series, it has had four rounds in Spain for several years (or did you not realise that?) and that company is quite prepared to change the rules at a moment's notice to benefit a Spanish sponsor with a Spanish rider.

Why Kevin Schwantz would want to do business with these people is beyond me.

I think Mr Stoner may have a great deal more to say about this Spanish farce of a 'World' Championship when he finally hangs up his leathers.

Perhaps it is time for India and China to get together with Indonesia and organise its own 'world' series.

They could at least claim a bigger potential audience than Spain...

Total votes: 78

Dear TheBaron

I am fully aware of all the facts that you mentioned, but I really wanted to say something else. I wanted to point out that Mr. David Emmett intentionally demonize one side ie. MSMA, and that he writes a lot of articles about that, while on the other side he makes angels of Carmelo Ezpeleta and Dorna, and that he never writes about their failures and bad decisions. If you look at news a couple of years back you will see that David has agreed with every decision Carmelo wanted to implement. To me, that's not free thought, but Dorna's laser-guided propaganda from the people who got certain privileges.

Total votes: 87

Did you read David's comment just above? The one under which I put "+1,000,000..."???

David:

1) HAS NOT DONE what you said he has.
2) HAS DONE what you said he hasn't.

I won't waste my time typing it all again. I WILL say that anyone who has followed the sport for longer than a few weeks, would never make such a statement. Go back and read the truth.

This site used to be read by people who knew, loved, and followed the sport.

What accusation is next? That David owns stock in the practices of the physicians who take care of the riders, so he has hired genetically-engineered, super-intelligent mice to run out on certain tracks and place tiny vials of grease on the racing line, so that the riders will crash and get injured in spectacular fashion, thereby increasing revenues for the doctors who repair the riders' broken, battered bodies, and that this is what happened to Casey, since David is so anti-Stoner?

The MSMA HAS caused the skyrocketing costs, HAS reduced the grid to a skeleton crew, HAS reduced the bikes to hyper-precise engineering exercises, and HAS reduced the racing to one-line accuracy pageants. Dorna HAS also been to blame for this because of giving the MSMA too much power. Dorna is working to right that wrong, so they deserve credit where it is due.

Again, anybody who's been following the sport more than a few days knows all of this.

Total votes: 68

The reason Schwantz would want to do business with Dorna is because it would bring a race to his home state of Texas and allow him to promote the sport there. Since MotoGP is the premier class it's really pretty simple to figure out. As far as changing rules for a Spanish rider with a Spanish sponsor you must be referring to the rookie rule and ignored the fact that LCR and Greseni lobbied the hardest for the rule to be abandoned because it would have hurt one of them the hardest. Of course if you're just looking for a reason to be mad and angry at Dorna or Carmelo Ezpeleta you will ignore something plainly obvious.

Total votes: 77

Say what you will about Indy, but it is a great venue, superbly organized, and close (relatively) enough to get to from the east coast. The track may not be the greatest but it is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and if you need any more explanation that that, it's wasted. The Indy Mile is the night before as well. Anyone checked to see if the MotoGP riders go to that event?

And now for something completely different. How come MotoGP doesn't go to Spa anymore? I went for the 84 and 85 GPs. If there is a better tack anywhere I would like to know.

Total votes: 74

.. but I do not.

I belive that full Indy track with NASCAR is great stuff.

But from MotoGP stand point.... and from a viewer stand point that do not watch NASCAR ... it is boring track.

And I never saw MotoGP track that has smack down so much top racers in MotoGP. And that some top riders have to wear double slider in the dry... cmon.

Laguna Seca is really something special. Crazy track to watch.

Indy? No.

Just scrap that. You have a lot of tracks in USA that are great for MotoGP.

We do not need Indy in MotoGP really. Nothing special about it. Not in MotoGP world.

LP

Total votes: 87

Anyone here remember when the World Championship first went to the USA? Daytona 1964 I believe. Then the AMA and the FIM had a split, so the AMA was not affiliated for many years. Then it re-joined and years later, after Kenny Roberts had won his three World 500 Championships, Laguna Seca was granted a round of the series, and so the USGP came back into being. But the track had serious safety problems (not least being the hopeless first aid crews), there were no garages (in fact no buildings at all in the paddock). It was a joke. But over the years (and thanks to major support from Yamaha and Honda), the track was upgraded, facilities improved and now it is quite a good track. Indy? Well, it has all the infrastructure - just looking for a decent track layout, and a decent racing surface. Texas? See y'all in court now, ya hear. Let the best lawyer win...

Total votes: 71

Ya'll don't come back soon. Ya hear. Well they will learn the hard way. Motogp and motorcycles may not bring huge money over one weekend but we do bring tracks money throughout the year. Good luck. I'll never spend a penny anywhere near that track.

Total votes: 73

Moderator, would it be possible to delete any post that contains abuse directed at another "poster". This site used to be full of thoughtful discussion and debate. It's gradually sinking to the depths of many other sites. Oscar and co. come back!!

Total votes: 72

I certainly have no issues with Spain hosting four GP's. It's a great country, has some great circuits, a fair chance of decent weather and is easy to get to for me.

A previous poster mentioned the rule bending to accommodate Spanish teams and riders, well the fact is that due to that countries commitment to motorcycle racing, there are a lot of Spanish teams and riders, should they not have some sort of say in how the series is organised?

Yes, it would be nice to see tracks like Spa and Nurburgring back on the agenda, and see some other countries in there also. But it has to be realised that they rely on people through the gate to make it pay. Does anyone know if the Belgian federation is hankering after a GP event?

Total votes: 72

I think this should be easy to solve. Either Mr. Schwantz has a contract with Dorna to allow him to negotiate with COTA on their behalf, or he doesn’t.

If Schwantz has a contract with Dorna, then Dorna should tell COTA, please contact Schwantz regarding the race and stop calling us. Could Dorna be cutting Schwantz out of the deal too?

Total votes: 73

I have contacted Dorna, who have promised a swift response. I expect that a statement will be made at Misano, as you say, it should be very simple for Dorna to clear up.

Total votes: 75

The statement issued by Dorna and published on the MotoGP.com website states that a ten-year deal had been reached between Dorna, Full Throttle LLP (the company owned by Tavo Hellmund) and Schwantz' company 3fourTexasMGP.

Schwantz accuses COTA of going behind his back to arrange a deal directly with Dorna

Hmm, I'd be surprised if Dorna were to say, "Yes, we had an agreement with Schwantz, but we decided to ignore that and to deal directly with COTA."

And if Schwantz has an agreement with Dorna, and if Dorna aren't honoring that agreement, shouldn't he be suing them?

If Schwantz were to sue Dorna, he might win some compensation for lost income on the deal, but he could never win specific enforcement of his agreement. Shucks, I'm guessing he's really out in the cold on this one.

Total votes: 72

with these problems in texas only put the situation worse, the series must go away from economically stranded countries italy and spain and sufferring and being realistic who in his five senses will pay for a race or for the normal expenses of living.

with texas in problems, argentina in gp also are danger, dorna not so long ago quoted if a situation endanger a sponsor interest, in this case repsol they can cancel the argentina GP. the argentinians commentators on ESPN are expecting too much the race but the political enviroment inst the ideal, YPF are now property of the goverment and repsol dont liked it, its possible than now repsol will pressure dorna and dorna will ban argentine GP in a blink of an eye.

Total votes: 54