Judge Dismisses Kentucky Speedway’s Antitrust Suit Against NASCAR

Feb 1, 2008

A federal judge has dismissed the Kentucky Speedway’s antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. (ISC), finding that the defendants were well within their rights to assign races to tracks that are owned by ISC.
In its 2005 lawsuit, the Kentucky Speedway argued that the defendants conspired to assure that the majority of NASCAR’s races were awarded to ISC racetracks, so that ISC racetracks receive the greatest financial benefit from NASCAR-sanctioned racing events.
The plaintiff had also alleged that NASCAR and ISC “have instituted policies and procedures that have the purpose and effect of restraining the ability of non-ISC racetracks to develop competing products by scheduling and realigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races to maximize current revenue to ISC racetracks and injure competing racetracks, such as Kentucky Speedway.”
In addition, the Kentucky Speedway claimed that the defendants acted in the manner in which they did because they have both a personal and financial interest in conspiring with one another, since NASCAR is the beneficial owner of more than 10 percent of ISC stock, and the two companies, while distinct legal entities, share or have shared common officers.
As relief, the plaintiffs sought an injunction “to cease NASCAR’s monopolization activity, to require NASCAR to eliminate or modify its rules and practices to permit full and fair competition in the right to host premium stock car races, to require NASCAR to institute a competitive bidding process for the NEXTEL Cup Series Races, and to award Kentucky Speedway a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race for the year 2006 and each year thereafter.”
With the case headed to trial, the defendants moved for summary judgment, a motion the court was receptive too.
“After careful consideration and a thorough review of the record, and granting (Kentucky) Speedway the benefit of the doubt on all reasonable inferences therefrom, the court concludes that Speedway has failed to make out its case,” wrote the judge.
He went on to write that the litigation was “essentially a ‘jilted distributor’ case,” adding that “a producer of a product is free under current antitrust laws to select its distributors and to refuse to deal with would-be distributors, no matter how worthy or deserving they may be.”
Not surprisingly, NASCAR was pleased with the ruling.
“It puts an end to any question about which locations and dates NASCAR can operate its races,” NASCAR spokesperson Ramsey Poston said. “Like other sports such as the NFL, MLB and the NBA, NASCAR can host its events where it decides is best for the sport and its fans.”
Well maybe not yet.
Stanley Chesley, an attorney for Kentucky Speedway, announced the day after the Jan. 7 ruling that the track would appeal.
“We are disappointed in the court’s decision for ourselves, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and for all those fans who have been hurt by what we believe are NASCAR’s and ISC’s anticompetitive actions,” he said. “We are convinced that there are serious issue of both fact and law.”


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