(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Scott Speed really hopes that the breach of contract lawsuit he filed against former employer Red Bull last week in North Carolina Superior Court doesn’t wind up going to trial, but he said Monday he is prepared for that eventuality.
“At this point, from what I’ve gathered, it’s going to be certainly a long process, but it’s filed,” Speed said. “I’m sure we’ll have to mediate at some point. I’m hoping that’ll be successful and we don’t have to take it all the way to trial.
“Before the last race of the year when we started thinking about this, I asked how much money this was going to cost to go all the way to court for a year, spending all the money on a trial, and they gave me a number. And I said, ‘I have that in the bank, so I can afford to do it.’ I’m certainly prepared to go all the way to court but I think it’s something that will be a long process.”
Speed’s complaint, filed Friday in Statesville, N.C., requests $6.5 million in salary owed the 27-year-old driver for the next three seasons, plus a revision in his 2010 contract.
“They picked up the option in May or whenever,” Speed said. “They kept me under contract all year and then they signed Kasey Kahne. And then it was, ‘Well, we still don’t know about Brian so we’ll keep you under contract.’ It was a messed-up deal.
“I was held with my hands behind my back and a sock in my mouth until two weeks after the last race of the year. They didn’t give me time to look for anything. They didn’t give me time for anything. Somehow that was OK for them. It was a total, 100 percent shock on my behalf. I don’t get it.”
Speed, who has been under contract with Red Bull since the Manteca, Calif. native won a driver search contest in 2003 to drive Formula cars in Europe, said he was completely taken by surprise when he was notified by fax that his services were no longer required.
“I’m by no means Matlock, but it’s one of those things where they didn’t even want to entertain any kind of idea of doing anything for us,” Speed said. “At the end of the year, they were happy just to leave it as it was, with no money conversation, no ‘hey, let us sponsor a car for you next year for another team in like Truck or Nationwide,’ which is what I thought they would do.”
It is now the middle of December, Scott Speed is on the outside of NASCAR looking in and scrambling desperately to try to find some kind of quality ride in any one of the to three series of NASCAR! Even though it is relatively early in the short off season, Speed knows his chances of finding a top flight ride for the 2011 season is extremely thin, he nevertheless is burning up the phone lines in his attempt to find work in 2011. The odds are definitely stacked against him!
“One thing that’s made it extremely difficult is when you start looking in December,” Speed said. “I have maybe a few small things lined up but I’m going to be jumping around and probably getting into as many good rides as I can. But I can’t afford to just jump into the first thing I find that maybe is funded all year. I think the strategy and the advice I’ve been given — and I agree with — is I need to wait until I can get into good Nationwide rides or good Truck rides, that have chances to win.”
“Finding money or finding teams to race for at this point is super difficult,” Speed said. “I’ve never had a manager or someone out there trying to find sponsorships for me since I was 18 years old. So that’s also a process I’m going through, as far as ‘What manager do I want to hire? What guy do I want to hire to find money, a sponsor liaison? Who’s going to run my website?’ The list is long. Making good decisions on all those is extremely important.”
On the same day Speed found out he was fired by Red Bull, he learned his mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It’s been a pretty big wake-up call,” Speed said. “Obviously, getting the news and going through this situation with Red Bull is not the greatest. I feel really used and abused by them. First of all, I’m very close with my family. I don’t normally meet people who have as good a bond with theirs as I do. But when you get the news about that, it puts everything in perspective. It makes you really understand what you want out of life and what you need.
“It certainly puts the NASCAR setback and the racing setback that I have right now into perspective. It’s by no means the most important thing in life”, Speed concluded.
What is your view on Red Bull’s handling of the Scott Speed situation?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!