The ongoing dispute between 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas, the track in Austin due to host a round of MotoGP in April, took another ugly turn during the private test arranged by Honda, Yamaha, and the two US CRT teams last week. Schwantz, who has been acting as a mentor to Blake Young, the young American set to race the three US rounds of MotoGP with the Attack team on their Kawasaki-powered CRT machine, was escorted from the track, on the grounds that he did not have an invitation from the circuit to attend the test.
The incident has unleashed a war of words between the two parties. Immediately after the incident, MotoMatters.com's reporter on the ground Andrew Elder contacted the Circuit of the Americas press office, to ask for clarification on the situation. A CotA spokesperson replied by email that the test was a private event, that Schwantz had not been invited to the test by the Circuit, that he had no accreditation as a journalist, and that as he was engaged in a legal dispute with the Circuit over the rights to organize MotoGP races at the circuit, his presence at the track was not permitted.
Today, Schwantz issued a statement containing his side of the story, saying that he had been invited to attend the test by the Attack team as Blake Young's riding coach, and that he had an additional invitation from the LCR Honda team, who were also testing at the circuit with Stefan Bradl. Schwantz stated he had also been warned he could be arrested for criminal trespass if he were to enter the track again.
The affair can hardly be described as a PR triumph. Whatever the merits of the Circuit of the America's decision to refuse entry to Schwantz, given the very real legal conflict that exists between the two parties, by refusing entry to the legendary MotoGP rider, the Circuit comes out looking bad. Schwantz is a much-loved and highly-respected figure in all of motorcycle racing, and the specialist media will always pick up such a story and run with it.
Whether CotA were justified in refusing Schwantz access is open to question. Without knowing the full details of the case, or, speaking honestly, fully understanding the legal ramifications if they had allowed Schwantz access to the circuit, it is hard to make a judgment on the legal basis for CotA's decisions.
What is clear is that CotA come out of this looking bad, and that could surely not have been their intention. A Facebook page has already been set up calling for a boycott of the Texas round of MotoGP, though the page has yet to gain much traction. It is fair to say, though, that the very existence of such a page is not a good sign for the circuit.
Below are the statements issued by both Kevin Schwantz on his Facebook page, and the Circuit of the Americas in response to our questions:
I have read several reports regarding my attendance at the MotoGP test last week in Austin. I would like to make this statement:
"I had been in Switzerland over the weekend where I was the guest speaker at the St. Gallen University. I returned to Texas on Tuesday evening and on Thursday I was at CotA for the MotoGP test, with a proper credential supplied by the Attack team, to coach Blake Young. Additionally I was an invited guest of the LCR Honda team.
While there, CotA security informed me that CotA management requested I leave the track immediately and was not welcomed at the circuit. CotA's security force also accused me of criminal trespass and warned I would be arrested the next time I entered the track.
This comes as a tremendous disappointment to Honda, Blake Young, and myself. Especially because I am single-handedly responsible for bringing MotoGP to Texas and for the initial design of the facility to accommodate MotoGP racing."
Regarding your questions below, as you stated, Mr. Schwantz filed suit against Circuit of The Americas last year, and that case is working its way through the legal system.
The MotoGP test that that the Circuit hosted this week was a private event, and open only to participating teams and invited media. Mr. Schwantz was not invited to attend the session by Circuit of The Americas. He does not have any relationship with our company or venue, and he’s not a journalist. As such, he was not permitted access to the Circuit.
Since there is a pending legal case, there is little else I can share with you about this matter, but hopefully, this answers your question. Thank you for reaching out to us for clarification.