Kevin Schwantz and Circuit of the Americas Comment on CotA Denying Schwantz Entry to Austin Test

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:


Statement by Kevin Schwantz

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."


Response from CotA in response to previous enquiries:

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.

Back to top

Comments

Shame on CoTA.

Honestly, I don't know who to blame in the whole CoTA/Dorna/Schwantz debacle. Quite possibly/likely everyone screwed up in one way or another. But this is just makes the CoTA owners look like petulant little children.

Gotta feel really bad for Bradl and Young though... two riders who were robbed of a good mentorship opportunity. Gotta wonder if Dorna at some point is going to step in and say enough is enough.

This isn't the first time these guys in Texas have fleeced a business partner. COTA has a history of screwing partners.

"Schwantz’ situation is similar to the one where his friend Tavo Hellmund, the person behind the original vision of the COTA facility and an F1 auto race in Austin, was forced out of the negotiations to promote that race. After the announcement of the COTA and its planned F1 race to much fanfare back in April 2011, COTA’s management forced out Hellmund by not paying the F1 sanctioning fee, forcing the termination of the contract that his promotional company had with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. While Hellmund filed suit against COTA, track management then attempted to negotiate its own contract with Ecclestone ...........

Read more:
www.sportrider.com/features/146_1301_kevin_schwantz_vs_cota/viewall.html

I read that Tavo was depending on the state of Texas to pay the sanctioning fee from a state large events fund before the race happens (as is expected by F1) but the the gov't didn't want to pay until after the event. This was what forced F1 to shift from Tavo to McCombs who has deep pockets and can write the $20M+ check which is what gets BE to sign on the dotted line.

Schwantz is in a tough position. His contact at the track has been driven out so he is standing alone with no deep pockets behind him. You'd think the track would realize the value of partnering with an American racing legend to promote the race but you never know the egos involved on the COTA side who likely want to forget about anything and anybody to do with Tavo. It would not be the first time that someone cut off their nose to spite their face.

Its tough being an idea guy with no money. It's the money that counts when a business contract is being signed.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

" Especially because I am single-handedly responsible for bringing MotoGP to Texas and for the initial design of the facility to accommodate MotoGP racing."

How much of the above am I supposed to believe, given that I'm just a part time MotoGP enthusiast and don't read everything related to MotoGP?????????

Seems a bit of a windy statement to me. I guess the courts will determine how much.

Well just like I said when the lawsuit was started and this just confirms that I made the right Decision. No way am I going to see any event at COTA if this is the way they treat a World ChampIon. After this I would hope the samething that happened with Nobby Clarke when the Motorcycle community should show that what they have done to Kevin is totally unacceptable! I stand with my Decision to boycott the Austin race.

Sandro

I couldn't agree more. From his schools to his lending his name to MotoGP Rookies to his mentorships and his exciting riding style and accomplishments, KS34 has done more for US riders than just about anyone i can think of.
While Wayne Rainey was instrumental in a rebirth of Laguna and the owner of multiple world championships and Kenny Sr was a trail blazer, KS has been a constant advocate for US hopefuls.
I know folks that work for Kevin and they've stated how ripped apart he is about all of this.
What a black eye for the event.

Please stay home come race day. COTA doesn't deserve our money.

have atila the hun as a PR person?

One of the stupidest, meanist things i have ever heard of... glad I can make the race...

Glad you Support Those A**holes at COTA! I could not support or give a Dime to them after they screwed over Kevin! But if that is how you feel go ahead but I'm hoping it Rains all weekend!

Sandro

Talk about confirming the position of Kevin Schwantz that he was instrumental in giving COTA the credibility to bring Moto Gp to Texas and guide the track layout.

When the initial news of this track and Schwantz's involvement
came out, it became top of my list to attend, having had a great experience doing a WERA endurance 8hr at Texas World
in College Station and vacationing in the state.

However recent actions by this CORPORATE BULLY have ensured that I will never spend a dime at COTA or in the state of Texas!

Nice going COTA!

Seems a bit extreme to blame the entire state of Texas for the poor choices made by COTA.

of pushing people out of the way to get what they want - contracts be damned.
While we'll never know what really happened, it does seem suspicious that Hellmund's experiences appear to mirror Kevin Schwantz. It is also no surprise that Carmelo would do the same that Bernie did.

and if Schwantz has a moral right (never mind a legal one) to payment then COTA should cough up.
They certainly picked a controversial argument with this one, but Dorna seem to have accepted COTA’s right to contract for the race and haven’t even acknowledged KS’s role as far as I am aware. It would be strange if a circuit couldn’t do its own deals….
I guess most of the story will come out at the hearings, assuming COTA do not do a deal beforehand.
At the end of the day this circuit is not KS’s, it seems quite clear he doesn’t actually own any of it from what can be gleaned here, (the Forbes article above seems well-researched authorative) and the F1 deal (probably much more difficult to close) was done by them. The deal/conflict seems to be that he ‘contributed to the design’. He didn’t do the full design.
It will be interesting to hear if he got paid anything for that. If he did, making a connection with Dorna/MGP was an easy thing to do and the circuit would surely already have their own ability to initiate discussions. His claim to have single-handedly designed it seems a bit over-played – he may have ‘tweaked’ it for bikes but that seems to be about it.
If he was expecting to get paid he should have a contract. If he doesn’t have a contract he shouldn’t have proceeded with his assumptions of getting paid and handed over his ‘work’.
He is a well-respected racer, but his business aptitude seems a bit weaker than his perception of what his advice was worth.
Whatever the cause of this, it seems that COTA haven’t thought this through very well and they would have been better off ignoring his presence. To say he wasn’t invited or accredited is a bit perverse – since when (in practice) do teams have to ‘clear’ their staff or guests via the circuit owner? As usual, the lawyers will be making money, and everybody would be better off doing a sensible deal than throwing their money at the lawyers. It’s one time that this sport needs a bit less testosterone.
Would be nice if WSBK went there too.

I dont know which party is in the right regarding the legal battle.

If you were being sued by someone, would you want your opponent on your property? Nope.

Would Kevin Schwantz allow CotA Brass to enter his Boot Camp property? Nope.

Considering the circumstances, it seems completely standard practice, and logical, to deny Schwantz access.

Single handedly brought MotoGP to Texas? Very telling indeed.

You are 'thinking' with your heart.

It's business. They are in a legal 'war' and they dont want the 'enemy' on their property. That's 100% normal in the business world.

If you owned a pub and your former partner was suing you for some of your profits, would you want him in your establishment? Nope. It doesnt matter that some other customer invited him in, does it?

Does it make CotA look bad? That's for you to decide. Is it standard practice? Yes.

Maybe I should re-read Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' and think more like a vindictive businessman. Yea, I am 'thinking' with my heart. I'm "thinking" like a racer too. (A poor, no-budget club racer). I can't speak for Pub Owners but club racers will lend another racer a tool, a part or share knowledge and assistance ... even if your helping an opponent. Kevin has been very generous to the Riders for Health Charity and is a great all-around guy. He's a well-liked racers racer. Plus, to deny a young rider like Blake Young his coach because of a legal squabble is not the normal zen of a racer. I suppose it's silly to think COTA actually cares about assisting racers; they're all about making money. Not to get all 'legalistic' but COTA received a ton of taxpayers money and taxpayer concessions to build that track. I'm sure KS#34 has paid the state of Texas and Austin quite a bit of coin in taxes over the years. Look, you know, I know, the whole racing community knows and COTA knows it but IF KS#34 was allowed to stay in the track for a few hours to work with the teams that invited him, it wouldn't effect their legal case one damn bit. It was just COTA on a power trip stating that 'We're in charge - not Kevin Schwantz". They did it knowing that it inconvenienced the race teams that paid to rent the track that day, which makes them look like even bigger jerks. ,,,,, Anyway, 'nuff said. I'm done with this topic. Ciao

I am going because I set up the trip long ago with friends. I also have family in Austin and love the town, the race was kinda just a front to get friends down there to ride Hill Country and experience the town. But I am also a massive Schwantz fan, have loved him since his battles with Rainey in the US Superbike series. COTA = scum, just sayin ..

I,
1) Live less than two hours easy drive from the circuit.

2) Just got a large pay raise.

3) Have 3 weeks vacation that has to be used in the next 2.5 months.

....and I still won't be going near the place. There is even a Texas State Lotto Scratchoff ticket that benefits the racetrack that I won't even allow my store to sell.
You have to pick your battles, and, legally right or wrong, COTA should have seen this as a no-brainer.

If I remember correctly there was a contract for promotional rights between the circuit and Schwantz for a MotoGp event that it appears the circuit decided to circumvent for some unknown reason. Sounds like a personality conflict that has gotten out of hand, as it would be unusual to deny entry to a member of a team (which as an invitee he clearly was) who rented the track. As to the illegal trespass issue, who knows? The legal ins and outs of this will be ugly methinks.

If someone was suing you, would you let them into your house? Was it handled well? PR wise, nope. But I can see why they didn't want him on their property.

Swantz has a pretty good case for "constructive fraud". Fraud is when you misrepresent what currently exists. A promise to do something in the future isn't fraud. Constructive fraud is where you take advantage of a situation, a great disparity in power exists, someone relies on your promises, and you never intended to follow through. It's a recognized concept in contract and torts.

Swantz was induced to hustle his ass to dorna, use his connections to wrangle a statement of intent, which the owners used to get financing (and a special bill for state money), then he and the F1 connection were shoved aside and the track dealt straight with the racing leagues. But this was only after all the introductions were made by reputable people like swantz.

In short, the Texas billionaire used swantz's name, connections, and rep to get what he needed, then left them high and dry. It's constructive fraud and bad faith. It was foolish to eject him from the circuit as that just adds to the damages, and is another piece of bad faith.

All this guys past dealings show he's screwed over others, then settled for less because they ident have the stomach for a fight. He doesn't know Swantz. Suffice to say, until swantz is treated fairly, I won't be going to COA--nor will the group I planned to take. I'll stay here in Indy, and travel to the awesome vintage racing events we have in the states. I might even start racing.

If there are only 2 MotoGP events to be held in America most fans I know would rather go to Laguna Seca or Indy so where does that leave COTA anyway? World famous Indy, beautiful Monterey California or the scorching hot land of tumbleweed?
I'd pass on COTA.

Everyone I know is going to COTA. I've been to Laguna every year since 2000. Laguna's problem is that only 1 class comes yet you don't see the discount on your ticket.

Indy's problem is the track itself and the area.

COTA is already a world class track and one of the best in the world. Highly technical and extremely difficult with each of the factory Repsol and Yamaha riders stating how difficult it is to learn. They are getting all 3 classes and the Austin area is outstanding. Live music, lots of girls/women, and lots to do, great city to host a race. Then there is the hill country for those of us that ride. No canyons like CA, but miles and miles of twisty roads. A great spot to ride while you are in town to see the GP.

I feel bad for Kevin but banishment isn't surprising at all given the active litigation present.

You folks boycotting shouldn't watch the round on the TV or internet either then, go full boat on it. I'll be at the track in Turn 15 watching them come through 12 all the way to T16.

... I've never seen one near Austin. Hot indeed in the summer months but I'd take it any day over Indiana. Monterey is quite nice but unfortunately located in a state with no adult supervision in government.