Last September, a legal battle began between 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz’s company 3fourTexasMGP and the Austin-based Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
This battle quickly brewed into multiple statements arriving from COTA and Schwantz. This keeps things interesting, but a bit confusing.
First, Schwantz filed suit against COTA and its president Steve Sexton, the suit stating that through fraud, “COTA and Sexton encouraged Dorna to breach and purportedly terminate 3four’s agreement to avoid the obligation to pay 3four.”
Schwantz initially struck a deal with the promoter of MotoGP, Dorna Sports LLC, and the promoter of COTA, Full Throttle Productions, to bring MotoGP to COTA. But a host of complications evolved, including Full Throttle Productions also suing COTA (read full report here).
Dorna responded, and then COTA, the latter stating Schwantz never had an agreement to “conduct a MotoGP race at its facility.”
Over the past few months, the exchanges calmed down until Schwantz was reportedly escorted off the circuit by COTA security during the private MotoGP test held there two weeks ago. Schwantz reportedly got his credentials through the Attack Racing CRT team to coach its rider, wildcard rider Blake Young (AMA SuperBike, Yoshimura Suzuki).
Following the incident, Schwantz released another statement: “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.”
COTA then issued yet another statement, saying Schwantz was not one of the investors who dished out $400 million to build the circuit, and “Circuit of The Americas is the organization responsible for bringing MotoGP to Texas through its promotional agreement with the commercial rights holder Dorna.”
Following is Schwantz’s statement to these allegations, which was released Tuesday:
“Last week, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) issued a statement suggesting I had nothing to do with bringing MotoGP to Austin. Unlike others who have had disputes with COTA, I am free to speak my mind. So let me set the record straight: I am the reason MotoGP is coming to Texas and no one currently associated with COTA had anything to do with the design of the actual race track. There’s no shortage of evidence to prove these facts.
“On February 2, 2011, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta sent me a letter confirming that 3FourTexasMGP, my company, is the ‘sole rights holder for MotoGP in the state of Texas for the years 2013-2022.’
“On February 3, 2011, Comptroller Susan Combs sent a letter to me and Mr. Ezpeleta confirming that the MotoGP U.S. Grand Prix would be included in the state’s Event Trust Fund beginning in 2013. In that letter, the state comptroller explained that the annual funding would be sent to 3fourTexasMGP, ‘the rights holder for all MotoGP events in Texas.’ On April 12, 2011, at the request of the state comptroller a press conference was held announcing that MotoGP was on its way to Texas. Finally, on July 22, 2011, Mr. Ezpeleta sent a letter to the state Comptroller saying that ‘both Kevin (Schwantz) and I are positive that the measured success of our events in Texas will be fantastic for both the state of Texas and MotoGP.’ (see links: http://schwantzschool.com/images/pdfs/documents.pdf and http://schwantzschool.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90 and http://schwantzschool.com/images/pdfs/Austin-track-design.pdf )
“I have spent too much time and money the past five years on this project, including helping the Comptroller during the 2011 Legislative session and COTA in raising money, for me to sit by and allow this repeated misinformation to continue. COTA’s attempt to downplay my involvement with Austin’s MotoGP event is silly, but some of the group’s other actions may verge on something far more serious. It is my belief that just like the F1 event, they are attempting to rewrite history in an effort to qualify for one of the Texas Event Trust Funds.”