NASCAR driver Scott Speed filed a $6.5 million breach-of-contract lawsuit Friday afternoon against Red Bull Racing, the team that released Speed following the 2010 season.
In the lawsuit, filed in North Carolina Superior Court in Statesville, N.C., Speed claims that Red Bull did not fund the team as necessary to compete at the Cup level.
“[Red Bull] significantly reduced its financial commitment to Speed’s race team and was unable and/or unwilling to provide [Speed] with ‘supporting equipment’ satisfactory for a driver of [his] skill to [be] effective [to] compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” Speed’s complaint states.
Speed had competed in ARCA in 2008 and for two full Cup seasons for Red Bull. He finished 35th in the points standings in 2009 and 30th this past season.
The 27-year-old Speed had been a Red Bull athlete for more than seven years and competed in Formula One for the energy drink company in 2006 and ‘07.
According to the lawsuit, Speed signed a three-year deal in September 2007 for a salary of $300,000 in 2008, $500,000 in 2009 and $1 million in 2010. He would receive 50 percent of prize money for each top-10 finish, 45 percent for finishes 11th-20th and 40 percent of prize money for finishes of 21st or worse.
In June 2008, the deal was amended to include 2011 at a salary of $1.5 million and options for 2012-2013 at raises of $500,000 annually. In January 2010, the deal was revised to cut Speed’s pay from $1 million to $500,000 for 2010, according to the complaint. In May 2010, Red Bull picked up Speed’s option through 2013, according to the complaint, but then fired him Nov. 23.
The $6.5 million figure represents the salary Speed would have received from 2011-2013, in addition to the $500,000 reduction for 2010.
“[Red Bull] withheld financial and technological … resources to prevent [Speed’s] team from fielding competitive race cars throughout the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season,” Speed states in the complaint. He also states that Red Bull refused to seek additional sponsorships to help pay for equipment.
Speed said Wednesday that the filing of the lawsuit was in hopes of being able to pay bills due next year, given that the chances of now getting a ride for 2011 are slim.
“I don’t know how to describe how much I think filing a lawsuit, how stupid it is and how ridiculous this is that we’re doing this, but I literally have no other option,” Speed said. “I have to protect myself. … I would have been so easy to deal with if Red Bull would have just explained to me straight up and honestly what the real situation was.”
“I feel very confident in what my argument is,” Speed said.
Red Bull Racing officials indicated Wednesday that they would not comment on Speed’s release or any pending litigation.
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