Kevin Schwantz and COTA Settle Their Differences

03/27/2014 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Kevin Schwantz and COTA Settle Their Differences kevin schwantz cota scott jones 635x422

A very exuberant Kevin Schwantz has just left the following message on Twitter; “GREAT news to share about @circuitamericas!!!!!!” Great news indeed, as the 1993 500GP World Champion has reached an agreement with the Circuit of the Americas race track, which ultimately sees Schwantz becoming a track ambassador for COTA.

The agreement puts to rest over a year’s worth of media and legal positioning between the two parties, which arose from a business transaction that would have seen Kevin Schwantz as the promoter of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

Schwantz then sued COTA after the circuits administration cut Schwantz’s 3fourTexasMGP company out of the promotional deal for the MotoGP round, and dealt directly with Dorna instead. The result of the fallout lead to a fervor from loyal American road racing fans, some of whom boycotted the race last year.

That all seems to be behind them now though, as Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas have come to agreement over the dispute, which sees Kevin Schwantz becoming the official ambassador to the Circuit of the Americas race track, where he will promote the MotoGP round, and we presume that some money will change hands in the process.

Press Release from the Circuit of the Americas:

Kevin Schwantz joins Circuit of The Americas™ as motorcycle racing ambassador

AUSTIN, Texas (March 27, 2014) – Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and motorcycle racing legend Kevin Schwantz have amicably settled their legal differences and have reached a new agreement to collaboratively promote motorcycling racing at the Austin circuit and across the United States. Schwantz will serve as an official ambassador for COTA and work to promote the upcoming Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas MotoGP event set for April 11-13, 2014.

“Kevin is a great champion and partnering with him gives us an opportunity to learn from his deep knowledge, as well as continue to celebrate his accomplishments,” Circuit Chairman Bobby Epstein said. “Kevin and I have always shared the desire to see him be a part of COTA, and it’s awesome to finally see it become a reality. A great American track and a great American champion in the same city can’t be kept apart. As a result, casual riders, current racers, future stars and the fans all win.”

“I look forward to being the ambassador for two-wheel racing for COTA, especially as the 2014 MotoGP season begins and returns to Texas,” Schwantz said. “Grand prix motorcycle racing has been my life, and to help COTA market and promote that moving forward is exciting!”

As a COTA ambassador, Schwantz will play a prominent role in a variety of promotions for the upcoming Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas event in April, including media availabilities and fan activities. For example, Schwantz will serve as Grand Marshal for the MotoGP race on Sunday, April 13, and will lead the parade laps scheduled for COTA’s personal seat license holders on Friday, April 11, between grand prix practice sessions.

Additionally, COTA will work with Schwantz to raise money for an important charity he supports, the Simoncelli Foundation, which was established in memory of Schwantz’s good friend, Marco Simoncelli, a MotoGP competitor from Italy who will be inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame as a MotoGP Legend this May. Simoncelli died after an accident during the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. Today through Friday, April 4, COTA will donate $1 for every ticket purchased for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas to the Simoncelli Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting humanitarian projects that benefit the disadvantaged.

“I am thankful for COTA’s support of the Simoncelli Foundation, a charity that’s important to all of us who knew Marco personally and fans that followed his career,” Schwantz added. “Marco was a great competitor and a very special friend. Now racing fans everywhere can honor his memory and help a cause important to Marco by purchasing a ticket to Austin’s MotoGP race.”

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. Looter says:

    Great news for Schwantz. Hoping he can win another battle at 8hr of Suzuka later this year!

  2. Kalle says:

    Great news indeed!

  3. Frank says:

    This is great news. After meeting Kevin at Ducati Austin the week of the race last year it was strange to miss his presence at the track. Hopefully this will bring more fans out to COTA this year as well. I was already looking forward to the weekend. This adds to my excitement! And yeah- good luck to him at Suzuka. I was absolutely impressed with his results at 8 hour last year.

  4. L2C says:

    “Hopefully this will bring more fans out to COTA this year as well.”

    My first thought was that the need to increase tickets sales probably played a significant role, especially when considering that Schwantz will become a track ambassador for the circuit. According to the MotoGP website, tickets are still available for the next race in Austin. The good publicity following this positive outcome should help to sell more tickets over the next couple of weeks.

    While Schwantz is still on my shit list for badmouthing Pedrosa last year, it’s better to have him associated with a venue like COTA to help grow the popularity of MotoGP stateside. And maybe he’ll actually follow through on his desire to sponsor new US talent to go racing in the feeder classes in Spain.

  5. L2C says:

    “Hopefully this will bring more fans out to COTA this year as well.”

    My first thought was that the need to increase tickets sales probably played a significant role, especially when considering that Schwantz will become a track ambassador for the circuit. According to the MotoGP website, tickets are still available for the next race in Austin. The good publicity following this positive outcome should help to sell more tickets over the next couple of weeks.

    While Schwantz is still on my sh-t list for badmouthing Pedrosa last year, it’s better to have him associated with a venue like COTA to help grow the popularity of MotoGP stateside. And maybe he’ll actually follow through on his desire to sponsor new US talent to go racing in the feeder classes in Spain.

  6. I’d wager good money that this had zero to do with ticket sales, and had everything to do with expected values at trial.

  7. john says:

    for once, i am in total agreement with mr. beeler’s comment/observation.

    enjoy it jensen … unlikely to happen again soon ;-)

  8. L2C says:

    @ Jensen Beeler

    OK, then. So Schwantz’s pending ambassadorship has nothing to do with continued promotion of the venue? I’d say increasing ticket sales would have a lot to do with that — but if you say it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

  9. I’m saying that COTA wasn’t empty last year, and with Laguna Seca not hosting a round this year, I see 2014 only being a busier event. The “Free Kevin” folk were a vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless.

    What happened in this announcement is exactly what I predicted would happen, because it occurs all the time. A court isn’t going to impose a contract on COTA, and from the documents I looked, at the track had a pretty good case. That being said though, anything can happen at trial, and Schwantz knew that.

    Let’s say there was an estimated 10% chance of Schwantz coming out on top at trial, and let’s say that $10 million in damages could have been levied. The expected value (look this term up if you’re not familiar with it) then is $1 million: that’s the probable cost of a court decision, not including legal fees.

    So let’s say you’re COTA. It would then be worth it to you to say “hire” Schwantz for $1 million “to be an ambassador” to the track. You spend the $1 million you’re risking, and in exchange you get something of value in services…not to mention you make this whole thing go away, and no one likes a legal liability on the books.

    If I was Kevin’s counsel, that’s the recommendation I would have made this time last year. You might not have a case in court, but you’ve got a case in public opinion, and you make it in order to secure a settlement like the one made here. Kevin gets paid, COTA gets the Grand Prix promoted, and MotoGP fans are happy. Win, win, and win.

    The extra 100 tickets or whatever you sell because of it is just a round error compared to the rest.

  10. L2C says:

    Looks like we agree. I didn’t go to law school, so it was virtually impossible for me to think about the case the way you did. But what I did consider was:

    “So let’s say you’re COTA. It would then be worth it to you to say “hire” Schwantz for $1 million “to be an ambassador” to the track. You spend the $1 million you’re risking, and in exchange you get something of value in services…not to mention you make this whole thing go away, and no one likes a legal liability on the books.”

    and:

    You might not have a case in court, but you’ve got a case in public opinion, and you make it in order to secure a settlement like the one made here. Kevin gets paid, COTA gets the Grand Prix promoted, and MotoGP fans are happy. Win, win, and win.

    In my own way, I thought about the case like that — in shorthand and layman’s terms. Thanks for the legal nerd longhand version. ;-)

  11. My pleasure. I finally got to use a quarter-million dollars in graduate education on this blog thing. I can’t wait to tell mom, she’ll be so proud.

    I’m glad to see the whole thing got resolved. COTA is a fantastic venue for MotoGP. I hate to see Laguna Seca get dropped, but it was the right decision.

  12. Jw says:

    Schwantz got a gift..

    A very big gift..

  13. Phil says:

    This would have been really messy had it gone further. And no way would any MotoGP fans want to see Kevin coming out of this badly. It would not have sat very well at all and the circuit wouldn’t look good either. Now everyone’s happy and more importantly we get to see Kevin more often.

  14. Westward says:

    Laguna Seca was an easy decision, they didn’t have Moto2 or Moto3, yet the ticket costs were virtually equivalent to all the other rounds, and that feels like a rip-off. Full price yet lacking 2/3 of the experience. Also, had an opportuntiy to go to COTA, but the Schwantz issue factored into my decision. It felt like bad karma.

  15. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Congrats to Schwantz.

    Dropping Laguna Seca was the right decision? wow, I couldn’t disagree more.

    Laguna doesn’t have the moto2 or 3. Ok, I’d actually like to see moto2. But moto3? come on Westward you’re a huge moto3 fan?

    I was at COTA for last year’s race and it wasn’t much fun compared to the Laguna Seca experience.

    I want to see at least one MotoGP race this year so I’ll try Indy. Another venue that’s probably not as good as Laguna Seca…but I’ll get me some moto3 action. Ya!!

  16. Bruce Monighan says:

    I love Austin and have from the first time I was there in the 90’s. That said I was one of the “Free Kevin” folks that boycotted the event last year. Not that I thought my absence would be felt but I was not going to support an organization that trashed and dismissed a living legend in our sport. Austin would have never been considered for a MotoGp had Kevin not been there in the first place lobbying for it.

    I agree that cutting the potential losses and showing respect for the man is what changed this outcome. From everything I have heard of track ownership and management there is a sense of elitism and aristocracy there; big guys rolling over little guys and I could just no see myself supporting those attitudes. I suspect a lot of people in that court venue that could have been jurors would have felt the same. If I were COTAs’ attorney that’s what I would have been telling them.

    However if Kevin is happy with the outcome then I am happy. To late to organize a trip there this year but will be there in 2015.

  17. crshnbrn says:

    @ Chaz Michael Michaels

    re: “Indy. Another venue that’s probably not as good as Laguna Seca.”

    Admittedly, there are other tracks that are better for MotoGP racing than Indy, but Indy is still Indy.
    I do wish they would integrate a little elevation change into the infield. I’ve been every year except for 2013 which I streamed from MotoGP.com. If you plan on riding to Indy, they do an excellent job of handling motorcycle parking.

    I offer two suggestions to attending Indy.

    1. Wear comfortable shoes. Indy is a huge complex.

    2. Be sure to check out Ducati Island. Even if you aren’t into Ducatis, it is fascinating to see so many different models of Ducati and how their owners have modified them. In 2011 I saw an older Ducati fitted with a Beringer four-disc front brake setup. A little dated, but still very interesting to see it in person and see how it works. Be sure to get to the track early, so you have time to visit Ducati Island before searching for a good vantage point to get “some moto3 action”. :)

    Even if you’re not into Harleys, stick around for the XR1200 race. It is very competitive racing, and some of the crowd leaves after the MotoGP race, so getting out of the track is easier.

  18. Westward says:

    @ Chaz Michael Michaels

    Moto3 is truer to what the premiere class should be. Every team has access to the same technology, plus there are 3 manufacturers of engines to choose from Mihindra, KTM, & Honda.

    Just imagine if the premiere class was like that. All you would have to do is match the right pilot to the right manufacturers engine. Everything else is equal…