MotoGP: Austin GP in Doubt as Schwantz Sues COTA

09/08/2012 @ 4:38 pm, by David Emmett18 COMMENTS

The chances of a MotoGP round taking place in Austin, Texas seem further away than ever. Yesterday, Kevin Schwantz filed suit against the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), claiming an attempt to fraudulently deprive the 1993 500cc World Champion of the rights to organize the MotoGP race that would be held at the circuit outside of Austin, Texas.

In the lawsuit, Schwantz accuses COTA of going behind his back to arrange a deal directly with Dorna to organize the Austin round of MotoGP, while Schwantz’ company, 3fourTexasMGP, has a ten-year contract to organize the race. In a statement issued tonight by the circuit press office, COTA denies that Schwantz holds any rights to organize the event.

The problem appears to stem from the falling out between the one of the driving forces behind the project, Tavo Hellmund, and Bobby Epstein, who raised the funds to get the circuit built and secure the Formula One race scheduled for November this year. That dispute centered around money that Hellmund felt he should have been paid, and which Epstein believed he was not entitled to.

The suit was eventually settled earlier this year, in an out-of-court settlement between the two parties. However, because the terms of the settlement were not made public, there is still no clear evidence of exactly who owns what rights to which races at the circuit. If those rights were renegotiated as part of the settlement, that is not currently public knowledge.

Schwantz appears to have been caught up in the middle of this. The original press release was clear. The statement issued by Dorna and published on the website states that a ten-year deal had been reached between Dorna, Full Throttle LLP (the company owned by Tavo Hellmund) and Schwantz’ company 3fourTexasMGP. That would appear to imply that Schwantz does indeed have a contract to organize the race, though the circuit denies this is the case.

The dispute could throw plans for the 2013 schedule into turmoil. With news emerging that Dorna was planning to keep all four races in Spain for 2013, despite earlier promises to cut back to just three in Spain, it had been expected that a provisional calendar could appear at the next round of MotoGP in Misano next week.

The Austin round had been expected to take place early in the season, in the slot vacated by Estoril, and be run back-to-back with the Argentinian Grand Prix. However, if no agreement can be reached on the race, or if the race is under threat of legal action, the race could be scrapped, or at least postponed for a year until the legal situation clears up. No Dorna reaction has yet been forthcoming on the afffair.

Below are the statements on the affair issued by Kevin Schwantz through his press agent, and by the Circuit of the Americas:

Statement by Kevin Schwantz

“I have devoted over 25 years of my life to MotoGP, the premier motorcycle road racing world championship. I spent four of those years bringing MotoGP to Texas, my home state. As a result, MotoGP agreed in 2011 to host an annual race at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track.

I’m sorry to say that COTA is now attempting to unlawfully force me out of this project. I believe COTA has committed fraud in doing so. Earlier today, I took legal action against COTA. I was forced to file this lawsuit in order to protect my rights, my reputation, and MotoGP itself.

I want to see MotoGP come to Texas, but I cannot allow COTA to take advantage of me. More important, I will not sit idly by while a newcomer to racing discredits the sport I love.”

–Kevin Schwantz, President of 3fourTexasMGP, LLC

Circuit of The Americas™ issues statement regarding Schwantz lawsuit

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 8, 2012) – Circuit of The Americas today released the following statement regarding the recent lawsuit filed by Kevin Schwantz related to promotional rights he claims to possess for a MotoGP race in Texas.

“It makes no sense for Mr. Schwantz to pursue legal action in this matter. We were informed by DORNA, the organization that holds the rights for the MotoGP racing series, that Mr. Schwantz has no contract to promote a MotoGP race in Texas,” Circuit spokesperson Julie Loignon said. “To be clear, Mr. Schwantz never had an agreement to conduct a MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas, and to our knowledge, he has no agreement to conduct an event at any Texas racetrack. Perhaps, that is why he is reacting this way, out of embarrassment, and is making false claims to the court and media.

“We know race fans would love to see a MotoGP event at the Circuit, and it is good to know that the door is open to make that happen at our new world-class venue in Austin.”

About Circuit of The Americas

Circuit of The Americas will be a world-class destination for performance, entertainment, education and business. It will be the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing, from motor power to human power, and be the U.S. home to the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX™ Nov. 16-18.

The Circuit of The Americas’ master plan features a variety of permanent structures designed for business, education, entertainment and race use. Its signature element will be a 3.4-mile circuit track. Other support buildings will include an expansive outdoor live music space, a conference center, a banquet hall as well as a state-of-the-art medical facility. Future proposed amenities include a driving/riding experience, a motorsports driving club, kart track, grand plaza event center and tower, and a trackside recreational vehicle park. For more information and downloadable video, audio and photos, visit:

Source:; Photo: Circuit of the Americas

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Ben

    It would be good to see Kevin Schwantz get a win, after all the battles with Suzuki, etc, just seems to be hard for him to get a foot in the door of anything, which he obviously wants for so long. It would be sad to see it happen via a lawsuit though, and I don’t see this as a fantastic way forward for him, given who he is battling against has a lot more resources and clout than him. I hope he had an iron-clad contract as the sharks of big business don’t mind leaving you bleeding.

  • I really do hope that KS COTA and DORNA gets this all worked out so it doesn’t hinder the 2013 MGP at this track. As for who wants to go Texas for MGP I do for one it beats the hell out of going to IMS…

  • Westward

    Americans can vote with their pocketbook. If you believe Schwantz had an agreement with Dorna, which it clearly seems according to Dorna’s official press release, than to show one’s displeasure, I would suggest all those who could have attended, not attend… That is if COTA intends to cheat Schwantz out of his long efforts to bring MotoGP to Texas. Schwantz has been the face of this project since it’s become knowledge to the public. A corporation using it’s resource to stifle the honest citizen, It that not the American way…

    But seeing how corporation control the landscape in the US, I am surprised americans are not paying a month fee to breathe yet…

  • Spamtasticus

    Gonzo, Are you stupid or a troll?

  • Leo

    Ummm… Love Kevin but sorry bro u got FIRED… Move on.. U werent adding any value to the event anyways.. Just my 2¢

  • CB

    Bernie Ecclestone stepped in to force COTA and McCombs to pay off Tivo but he could care less about Schwantz. Kevin had the rights with DORMA but just not sure where the dust has settled.

  • Andrey

    Yet another fine example of how business is done these days, especially in the U.S. This mess is almost certain to be driven by the track owners wanting to make more money by cutting someone out… pure greed, it’s that simple.

  • tonestar

    good luck kevin! if they pull this off without you i will be ashamed for them. was so excited about a gp race in my home state! now it’s just a mess. might be wierd, but what about wsbk?

  • Don’t mess with Texas, pawtnah!

  • MikeyP

    The “contract” announced on April 12th, 2011 mentions “Dorna Sports, S.L., 3FourTexasMGP, LLC and Full Throttle Productions.”
    The problem here lies with the fact that Full Throttle Productions, Tavo Hellmund’s promotions company, is no longer part of the COTA team. Essentially nullifying any original deal worked out among the 3 of them.
    Hellmund offered the rights to MotoGP to the COTA investor’s for a healthy sum of $18 million, and was denied.
    Ultimately Kevin was operating on a deal with Hellmund, and not COTA.
    It would appear that Kevin is just a little upset that he lost his “cut” of the money to be gained by helping to broker MGP races at COTA.
    I highly doubt he will get anywhere with the lawsuit.
    Ultimately Dorna holds the rights to MotoGP, and if the investors choose to deal directly with them, then so be it.

  • JD

    Rainey brought back the gp to the US via Dorna even though track safety standards were down at laguna. These former racers have a bit more clout than you think at least a bit more say. But it sounds like a pure gangster move on Kevin, my advise….all guns blazing. JK

  • joe

    If full throttle”s rights and responsibilities were absorbed by the standing track owners,ie a purchase of their share, the contract could still be valid.

  • TexusTim

    Well, the cota team did it again,,,,here is Dorna’s take on things so my guess would be full throttle had a deal with cota but do to the lawsuite and reported settlement with tavo he lost or gave up his deal with Cota for the moto gp race….before that all went down full throttle and keven teamed up to focuse on the moto gp deal which is 3 for texas …so the cota team knew all the had to do was stall out the 3 for texas team and dorna would nulifi there deal and work directly with cota……doea any of this sound familar ?…this is excatly what happened to Tavo and the F! deal exactly the same….seems like cota doesnt dance with the one that brung them to the party… was tavo and Kevin that convinced the cota team the story goes if you build it we can bring F1 and Moto Gp to the track it was those guys that pursued and won both deals but then the cota team and maybe right from the beginning had other ideas…like “we’ll money stall these dreamers and shut them out after all there not buissnes men there just racers and dreamers…..I would like to say I am going to boycot the track but that wouldnt be honest cuz if races are going to happen I’ll be there.after all it’s 20 min. from my front door…..I guess this means we wont see kevins race school at cota I wonder who will get to do that now…just seems to me that there must have at least been some agreement that cota would work with keven…maybe somthing good here will happen but after the dorna announcment looks like dark skies for # 34 and the Tx GP

  • Jack

    Imagine being someone who worked to get that facility built but then has no control over the events that take place at the event!

    There is a lot of Texans messing with one another in this saga and it seems somewhere in the early going the COTA investors realized how dumb it is to have one of their own have a side company that promotes the races, instead of the facility doing it 100% themselves.

    Why would a business, that invests billions into a world class facility, not have their own, internal Promotional & Marketing department that works directly with racing sanctioning bodies? Cut out middle companies such as Full Throttle & 3FourTexas.

  • TexusTim

    Jack…no matter what they originaly agreed to have full throttle promote both races.
    it was tavo that brought them the original deal after new york fell thru and he had theF1 contract in his hand(just like moto gp) then the investment group went ahead having a deal with tavo securing the rights…then they got greedy and did what you sugest and cut there partners out by stalling them on first money then the track contract.
    I think they had that in there mind to start with……as you suggest to heck with agreaments and and partners…….it seems you think that doing buisness like that is ok…so one is smarter than the other so what retospect is just that…or do you think premedataded screwing your buisness partner is ok ?

  • Jack

    Simmer on’down now ya’here, cowboy? Don’t put words into my post and learn to s-p-e-l-l or use a spell checker, then copy and paste into the comment section.

    All I’m saying is that a facility would be crazy to let some other company control what events go down at their facility. The Texas-sized mess that went on before ground breaking is beside the point but one that has to be dealt with at COTA this time around (10yrs worth).

  • TexusTim

    you simmer down and dont get caught up in trying to be all correcting others typo’s…who does that except ashats anyway.?…..howz your riding skills on the track ? I have an idea but need to know if you really ride or just ride a keyboard ? gbtm the coata team didnt treat the people who brung them these deals fairly this is what is wrong with wallstreet, corporate america and people like you. this is why we had to bail all of em out right ?…COTA AGREED TO THE DEAL THEN GOT GREEDY WHEN THEY DECIDED THEY DIDNT NEED TAVO OR KEVIN it’s just that simple ….if they had any integrity they would have offered a buy out rather than the drug dealer esque way they pulled this off.

  • Jack

    asshats, not ashats.
    not simmering here.