Schwantz slams COTA, Dorna over MotoGP race in Austin

As the legal posturing continues in Austin Texas over the MotoGP race to be held at the Circuit of the Americas, a few twists have occurred. First, Dorna, the commercial rights body of the MotoGP series, says it terminated its contract with Kevin Schwantz but now the former bike rider says:

“In April 2011, COTA issued a press release with the headline “Texas Lands MotoGP for 2013; 10-year Deal Signed for Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.” This press release names my company, 3fourTexasMGP, as a party to the MotoGP agreement. It also claims COTA’s track “is the U.S. home to both the Formula 1 and MotoGP Grand Prix World Championships.

COTA presumably used this agreement with me to entice ticket sales and to persuade elected officials to commit $250 million from the State of Texas’s Major Events Trust Fund. Once it had gotten all the mileage it could out of the agreement, as alleged in my lawsuit, COTA cut me out of the deal and attempted to get a cheaper contract with Dorna.

“Following COTA’s lead, Dorna has now publicly claimed that it has terminated my MotoGP contract. I’m not surprised that Dorna is now acting as a mouthpiece for COTA. As stated in my lawsuit, COTA has misled Dorna and encouraged it to terminate my contract. This unlawful conduct resulted in an announcement in June that they were finalizing details on the Texas race.

“I am tremendously disappointed in my friends at Dorna, who appear to be forced into their current position by COTA. Hopefully, COTA won’t do to them what it did to me.
“To cut through all the spin, here is what has happened. I had an agreement to conduct MotoGP races at COTA. COTA used the agreement to sell tickets and raise money. When the time came for COTA to honor its end of the bargain, it refused. COTA thought it could get a better deal by going around me and directly to Dorna. And that is exactly what it did.”

In effect, Schwantz says he was used for his contract to lure money and the race to Austin only to have it all pulled out from underneath him. This marks the second person to air grievances over alleged dodgy business tactics from COTA owners with Tavo Helmund being the first to fall out with the owners. Helmund also held a contract to host a premier race in the Formula One series.

In the end, the side will be taken but in all honestly if I were on the board of COTA, I would want to hold my own destiny with regards to the promotional rights and fiscal responsibility of a particular race. Formula One or MotoGP are world-class events and if I were investing $300M in a purpose-built circuit to host races, I wouldn’t want my major investment to be at the mercy of Helmund or Schwantz. I know that many feel these two men were done wrong and that’s not for me to judge here but I can understand the desire to remove middlemen when it is your backside on the line for the major investment and success of the circuit long-term.

For COTA’s part, they insist that Schwantz’s real issue with with Dorna, not the circuit.

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