Speedway Motorsports shareholder sues NASCAR

On February 13, 2002 in Federal Court in Sherman, Texas, a Speedway Motorsports,Inc. (SMI) shareholder filed a lawsuit against NASCAR. Francis Ferko's suit accuses NASCAR of breach of contract and antitrust allegations due to the loss of a second...

On February 13, 2002 in Federal Court in Sherman, Texas, a Speedway Motorsports,Inc. (SMI) shareholder filed a lawsuit against NASCAR. Francis Ferko's suit accuses NASCAR of breach of contract and antitrust allegations due to the loss of a second date on the Winston Cup schedule at Texas Motor Speedway.

Texas Motor Speedway is owned by SMI and located in Forth Worth, Texas. SMI is not a litigant in the lawsuit. SMI chairman Bruton Smith said he was unavailable for comment. A call today to TMS gave us this response: Eddie Gossage said they would not be making any comments.

Texas Motor Speedway is owned by SMI and located in Forth Worth, Texas.

The Plano resident hired Samuel A. Cherry Jr. of the Alabama firm Cochran, Cherry, Givens and Smith.

Ferko filed the lawsuit claiming that NASCAR was in violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1980.

"Quite obviously, they have a monopoly," said Cherry Jr. "The idea that the management of NASCAR and ISC is independent is farcical. They walk out of one office and into another across the hall."

Excerpts from the lawsuit state:

Regarding NASCAR's "anticompetitive conduct:"

"NASCAR has no rules or bylaws to govern its discretion in awarding Winston Cup race dates to motorsports facilities. NASCAR, in its sole discretion, decides which motorsports facilities receive Winston Cup race dates. NASCAR's discretion is exercised by the majority shareholders of ISC."

Regarding NASCAR's "unlawful monopolization:"

"NASCAR developed and implemented the Winston Cup points system in a manner that unnecessarily eliminates or severely impairs the ability of tracks to compete with NASCAR in the provision of dates for premier NASCAR-format stock-car races.

"NASCAR has deterred drivers and their teams from participating in premier NASCAR-format stock-car races not sanctioned by NASCAR by engendering the belief [among drivers and their teams] that such participation would cause NASCAR to target their cars for pre- and post-race inspections, thereby exposing them to substantial fines and other sanctions. ... by engendering the belief that such participation would cause NASCAR to more readily conclude that such drivers engaged in rough driving or other inappropriate behavior at NASCAR races, thereby exposing them to substantial fines and other sanctions.

"To impair the ability of tracks to compete in the provisions of dates for premier NASCAR-format stock-car races, NASCAR has barred non-NASCAR-sanctioned races from claiming that the race was being conducted pursuant to NASCAR rules ... and NASCAR has prohibited the use of non-NASCAR-sanctioned races of the car number NASCAR issues to drivers for NASCAR-sanctioned races."

NASCAR FACTS:

NASCAR's Board of Directors: Chairman Bill France Jr., Jim France, Brian France, Lesa France Kennedy and Mike Helton. In 1972, Bill France Jr. took control of NASCAR upon Bill France Sr's retirement. France Jr. also assumed control of International Speedway Corp. (ISC), owners of Daytona International Speedway. Since then, the France family has increased the popularity of NASCAR and it's value. ISC has acquired more tracks including buying Roger Penske's race tracks with ISC stock. Penske is the second-largest stockholder of ISC; the France family owns the majority.

The France family stated "no comment" at this time.

ISC Race Tracks:
California Speedway
Darlington Raceway
Daytona International Speedway
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Kansas Speedway
Michigan International Speedway
Nazareth Speedway
North Carolina Speedway
Phoenix International Raceway
Richmond International Speedway
Talladega Superspeedway
Virginia (Richmond)
Watkins Glen International
*Partial ownership of Chicagoland Speedway

SMI Race Tracks:
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Lowe's Motor Speedway (Charlotte)
Sears Point Raceway
Texas Motor Speedway

Currently, ISC tracks host 18 of the 36 races. SMI hosts nine races; they also host a non-point race, 'The Winston', at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

SMI-owned tracks added to the Winston Cup schedule in the last four years include: Texas Motor Speedway was added to the schedule in 1997 (opened in early 1996) and Las Vegas was added in 1998 (opened mid-1996). NASCAR has raced at the following SMI tracks for years: Atlanta, Bristol, Sears Point and Charlotte.

The ISC tracks added to the schedule recently were: Homestead-Miami in 1999 (opened in Fall 1995) and Kansas Speedway in 2001 (opened in 2001).

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About this article
Series Automotive , NASCAR
Drivers Mike Helton , Roger Penske