Atlanta Motor Speedway suing Pep Boys

UPDATE Atlanta Motor Speedway and Pep Boys have reached an out-of-court settlement of the track’s lawsuit against the auto parts retail chain over the title sponsorship of the Sept. 6. Sprint Cup race at the track, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The settlement was not filed with the court, but an AMS spokesman indicated that the race will remain being called the Pep Boys Auto 500 this year. SceneDaily

05/07/09 Atlanta Motor Speedway is suing Pep Boys over payment on a contract that called for the auto parts chain to pay $3 million for a two-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race sponsorship, according to court documents.

Pep Boys has allegedly stopped making payments for the 2009 race, according to the lawsuit filed April 30 in Georgia Superior Court in Henry County, Ga.

The suit says the deal was worth $1.4 million for the track’s 2008 fall race and $1.6 million for the 2009 fall race. According to the complaint, Pep Boys did not make the $800,000 payment due March 1, 2009, and the track is owed $1.6 million for the 2009 race.

Although the contract states that the sponsorship is for “a fall NSCS Event," SMI says in its complaint that Pep Boys did not object to the 2009 race being moved to Labor Day weekend before it was announced. According to the complaint, Pep Boys sent a letter saying it could terminate the contract because the track breached the agreement since the 2009 fall race is now “during the summer."

Atlanta Motor Speedway alleges that the wording in the contract prevents it from being terminated on those grounds.

SMI general counsel Cary Tharrington had no comment. Pep Boys has not yet answered the complaint, and a Pep Boys spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Among other details in the contract:

• For the fall race weekend, Pep Boys received 1,000 grandstand tickets for each day, 30 cold pit/garage passes, 30 VIP parking passes, one 40-foot-by-60-foot display space and a tent with a capacity for 1,000 people in the hospitality area. It received 100 tickets for each day of the spring race weekend and one 64-person suite for both race weekends.

• Pep Boys received one 20-foot-by-60-foot trackside billboard, one 34-by-50 sign in the back of the grandstand, five 15-by-20 concourse signs, one 20-by-60 outside track billboard and several other flags and banners, including a 50-by-100 garage roof banner.

• Pep Boys could make shirts for all track personnel, aprons for ticket sellers and also received its logo on the track’s Web site’s front page. An interview during the PRN radio broadcast also was guaranteed.

• The speedway and Pep Boys each had to secure general liability insurance of $5 million apiece.

• If the race was not televised on ABC, ESPN or other comparable television network, then the Speedway would have to return an unspecified amount of money to Pep Boys. If it was pre-empted by a national emergency or catastrophe, there would be no refund.

• Pep Boys had the right to name the honorary starter and had approval for the national anthem signer and grand marshal.

• Pep Boys had exclusive negotiation rights for the 2010 and 2011 races until June 1, 2009.

• Pep Boys received status as the “Official Auto Parts Retailer" of the track.

• The contract also included a component of sponsorship for the track’s Thursday Thunder Legends Series and Friday Night Drag Series.

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