A security software firm wants Robby Gordon to remove its logos from his uniforms and equipment as part of a contract dispute that began when the Dakar Rally was cancelled because of terrorism threats.
Vanguard Integrity Professionals is suing Gordon in U.S. District Court in California over the sponsorship of Team Gordon in the Dakar Rally and is asking for $1.15 million back from the driver. The company went public with the dispute Wednesday because it wants Gordon to immediately cease using its logos in his NASCAR ventures, and claims the driver was only authorized to promote Vanguard outside the United States.
"We want the world to know that Vanguard is no longer associated with Team Gordon," the company said in a statement released to The Associated Press.
Gordon could not immediately be reached for comment.
Vanguard had a three-year agreement with Team Gordon to sponsor his Dakar efforts through 2010, and company founder Ronn Bailey was scheduled to race as Gordon's teammate.
But the Amaury Sports Organization cancelled the event the day before its Jan. 5 start because of "direct" threats of terrorism from al-Qaida-linked militants, and Gordon was outspoken in his belief that at least a portion of the 16-day trek should have continued.
Vanguard, which produces software designed to protect its customers from cyber-terrorism attacks, believed the threats were legitimate and agreed with the cancellation.
Gordon publicly disagreed, and blasted the ASO for not having a backup plan. He also downplayed the extent of the threats, which began with the Dec. 24 slayings of a family of French tourists by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mauritania.
"Let's put it in perspective. Eleven people got killed over there," Gordon said in January. "I'm pretty sure in L.A., we kill 11 a night on the streets of L.A. ... It was a couple of kids in the back of a pickup truck with a couple of AK-47s shot a couple of people.
"I'm sorry to say that. But the reality of it is it's not like it's this big setup bombing."
The company cited Gordon's comments as one of the reasons it sought to cancel its contract with his Dakar teams, and is seeking in court to officially terminate the deal and recover any money Gordon was paid before the event was cancelled.
"It is not positive to be associated with someone who said al-Qaeda attacks are no worse than an average night in America -- especially for a security software company. It's simply not a true or accurate statement," Vanguard told AP.
Gordon contends Vanguard cannot terminate the contract.
Upset that Gordon continues to use Vanguard logos, the company requested a temporary restraining order to prohibit Gordon's use of the logos. The motion was denied March 5 in U.S. District Court.