Scott Speed has spoken openly about his reasons for filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Red Bull, his former employer, and how it really hopes it doesn’t get as far as going to trial, although he says he is prepared to do so if necessary.
Before starting the litigation he enquired how much it might cost him and, in his words, after being told the amount said, “I have that in the bank, so I can afford to do it.”
Speed is asking for $6.5 million dollars for his salary for the next three years.
“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. 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.”
“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.”
Speed only managed two top-ten finishes all season and although he started the year in the high teens in the points positions and made it into the top twelve after the race at Atlanta from there he slipped back into the twenties just two races later and fell down the points table to thirtieth place for the last two races. With Kasey Kahne coming on board for what will be his “gap” year whilst waiting to start with Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 and the prospect of Brian Vickers returning after his illness it was inevitable that with three drivers and two cars one of the drivers would go. Speed would have to be rated the under-achiever of the trio.
Speed believes Red Bull could have looked at sponsoring a Nationwide Series or Camping World Truck Series ride for him for next year but to his dismay was not offered any future rides or financial settlement. He was hurt, too, that he was told of his dismissal by fax.
On the day Speed was given this news he was also told his mother had cancer. That has given him a reality check.
“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.”
Certainly Speed doesn’t think getting involved in a trial is the most important thing in his life right now, describing it as childish and ridiculous, but feels that as Red Bull kept him under contract all season and forbade him talking with other teams only to drop him unceremoniously so late in the year when it will be difficult to fix another ride he is left with little choice.
How other team owners and managers wull view this litigation will become clear as the months ahead progress.