Gillett Evernham Motorsports has filed suit against Robby Gordon, claiming the owner/driver of Robby Gordon Motorsports violated terms of a tentative agreement that would have sold his team to GEM for $23.5 million earlier this year.
The agreement, arrived at Jan. 29, was pending an audit and other due diligence from GEM, which could have adjusted the price.
The story was first reported by NASCAR Scene.
If the deal had gone through, Gordon would have had a four-year driving contract with GEM that would have paid him at least $3 million annually plus 45 percent of race winnings. Gordon also could have had a spot on the team's board of directors. GEM would have acquired Gordon's shop and property in Charlotte.
As part of the agreement, GEM pledged to provide Gordon with all "racing infrastructure" and to support Gordon's car "in substantially the same manner in which GEM supports its most supported car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup" for the 2008 season.
Three days after the agreement was signed, GEM and Gordon announced a technical, manufacturing and marketing partnership. At that time, GEM owner George Gillett, in an interview with NASCAR Scene, stated that he did not buy Gordon's operation and was more likely to add a fourth car to his stable and hoped Gordon would add a second or third car to his.
According to the lawsuit, GEM was pursuing efforts to close the deal. The contract includes an exclusivity clause, which GEM claims would not allow Gordon to entertain talks with other teams about possible mergers. In May, Gordon asked out of the deal, according to the lawsuit, in exchange for an engine deal for the remainder of the season.
The exclusivity clause is the primary basis for the lawsuit, filed Aug. 25 in North Carolina Superior Court in Charlotte. GEM claims in court documents that Gordon has talked to other teams about merging. It also claims that Gordon made disparaging remarks that he wasn't getting comparable engines to the other GEM drivers during a DirecTV telecast last month at Watkins Glen.
"They want to fight this and get relief from the agreement, and we'll let a judge decide if they can get out of it," Gordon told the Associated Press Friday at Richmond International Raceway. "This caught me by surprise, and I don't feel I have breached anything."
The lawsuit also claims that Gordon ignored the advice of GEM and terminated his previous deal with Ford prematurely, before GEM could get a sponsorship deal from Dodge for Gordon's car. Dodge and GEM could not agree on a manufacturer's deal for Gordon's car.
GEM, which has supplied engines and other services for Gordon throughout the season, is asking for unspecified damages for Gordon's breach of the agreement and for the agreement to be declared null and void, according to the complaint.
"We categorically reject the allegations that are contained in the complaint, and the truth will come out if the case proceeds," Gordon said in a statement released through his team.