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« Junior has more important things to worry about than his car number | Main | Potential NASCAR stories for 2010: Jimmie Johnson takes fifth consecutive title »

Potential NASCAR stories for 2010: Brian France vs. Jeremy Mayfield

By admin | December 27, 2009


By Richard Allen

Since the drop of the checkered flag at the Miami-Homestead Speedway in November much writing has been done to review the major stories of the 2009 NASCAR season. With that said, over the next several days this website will attempt to take a look ahead into 2010 and ponder the potentially big stories that could come from the year ahead.

One story that will take place off the track but may well the be the biggest attention getter of all will be the case of Brian France and NASCAR vs. Jeremy Mayfield. Few stories in NASCAR history have delivered or have the potential to deliver such soap opera type drama as this.

As has been well documented, during the week of the Darlington race this past May NASCAR announced that Mayfield had produced a positive test for a banned substance. The driver vehemently denied the allegation and in turn took another test provided by a facility he had contracted that showed he was clean. NASCAR then administered a second test which he again failed.

Mayfield insisted he had only taken a combination of an allergy reliever and a drug for ADHD which caused the NASCAR tests to show false positives. He further claimed that NASCAR knew the combination of legal drugs had caused his false positive but the organization was covering for one of its sponsors so that the drug company which produces the allergy medicine would not receive bad publicity.

NASCAR went so far as to bring in Mayfield’s step-mother, who claimed she had seen her stepson use illegal drugs on numerous occasions. Mayfield countered by claiming that his step-mother was a liar and that she murdered his father, a death that has been ruled a suicide by authorities.

And so on the drama continued. Throughout much of the summer of 2009 this story and its twists and turns dominated the coverage of this sport. Do not be surprised if that continues in 2010.

Believe it or not, the real drama may be just about to begin. Mayfield has sued NASCAR claiming the sanctioning body was grossly negligent in the conducting of its drug testing policy. A court date in that suit has been set for the fall of 2010.

The reason for titling this piece France vs. Mayfield rather than NASCAR vs. Mayfield is due to the fact that it has seemed to take a very personal tone between NASCAR chairman Brian France and Mayfield. Accusations and innuendo have flown as the situation has intensified over the course of the months since the initial positive test results were released.

Earlier this year, Mayfield’s attorneys had sought to make public sealed documents from an ongoing case between the NASCAR chairman and his ex-wife. France and NASCAR argued that those documents not be made public because the contents could prove to be ‘damaging’. Mayfield’s attorneys have since changed their stance on those documents. The judge in that case has ruled as moot requests by NASCAR and France’s ex-wife Megan France, that they not be forced to produce documents under seal in litigation between her and Brian because Mayfield’s attorneys indicated they would not seek those documents. He did grant a motion stipulating that in Megan France’s deposition, she cannot be asked about the documents in that lawsuit or about the divorce agreement.

No doubt, many detractors of Mr. France are disappointed that those documents will remain sealed.

Whether the contents of those particular documents ever become public knowledge or not, this case will stir plenty of emotion throughout the NASCAR world. Many fans have clearly taken sides one way or the other and will pay considerable attention as events continue to unfold.

The case of France, or NASCAR, vs. Mayfield garnered plenty of attention in 2009. For that matter it may well have been the story of the year, even with Jimmie Johnson winning a fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title. But even as big a story as it was in 2009, it promises to only get bigger in 2010.

It will be interesting to see if Mayfield can hang in there and see this case to its actual court date or if NASCAR can bury their opponent in a sea of red tape. The racing organization has deep pockets while Mayfield’s funds are almost certainly more limited. Or, if it appears as though Mayfield can hang in there, NASCAR could seek to settle the case just to make it go away. If this case does make it to the courtroom it could make for quite a show.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

29 Responses to “Potential NASCAR stories for 2010: Brian France vs. Jeremy Mayfield”

  1. Charlie Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I thought The Charlotte Observer and News Channel 36 in Charlotte had won and the presiding judge unsealed the documents but France appealed to the NC Court of Appeals. Did I miss something?

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I do not believe the judge has ruled on the Observer and channel 36 situation yet.

    I was only writing this as it related to the Mayfield case but I will look further.

  3. Richard Allen Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    According to a story I just found it could be months before the Court of Appeals makes any sort of ruling in the Observer/channel 36 situation.

  4. Richard in N.C. Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    The Mayfield saga was one of the latest examples of generally sloppy, often biased writing by the NASCAR media.

  5. The Mad Man Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    So the currently sealed documents could come into play in Mayfield’s lawsuit eventually after the NC Appeals Court has to rule in favor of The Observer based on NC laws regarding the sealing of documents. That still leaves time til the September court date which is currently set for Mayfield’s lawsuit and for his legal team to scour each and every document that’s been hidden from public view. If rumors are true about the contents of the sealed documents, Mayfield stands to benefit from having access to them and race fans may stand to benefit from them too as it would force France to resign and end his reign of idiocy.

  6. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I just find it appalling that Brian gets to have his records sealed when everyone else wouldnt get that luxury. After all it is NASCAR vs Mayfield isnt it? Brian,if ya want sole ownership and dictator type power,you hafta put up with the problems associated with it. Did we ever determine where he lives? I read he claims Florida and/or Charlotte whichever suits his current legal battle at that time.

  7. Millard Fillmore Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Don’t forget that when BF wants to be a high roller he lives in NYC.

  8. trevor in daytona Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Its funny to get reaction down here next to NASCAR HQ and see that a lot of fans that really enjoy the sport and know it well are siding with Mayfield. A couple shop owners down here seem to think NASCAR is going to buy their way out of this one and settle out of court.

  9. charlie Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Sounds like when it’s anything bad for NASCAR it is sealed just like the Earnhardt photo’s from 2001. NASCAR will have to pay big for what they have done to Mayfield. I wonder if anyone has tested Jr. because he goes from bad to worse and it would take a drug user to not be able to run well at Hendrick Motorsports. Vickers won and run well so did ricky Craven and so on so what’s wrong with Dale Jr.?

  10. charlie Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I’m not a Dale Jr. fan by the way. I just think it’s funny how you go from winning 5 races in a row at talladega to finishing back in the 20’s and the other 3 cars are 1,2,3 so think about that. Either he is stoned or just can’t drive the COT. I can only say that it must be the COT because NASCAR wouldn’t cover up anything like Jr. on drugs just like they didn’t cover up that Dale SR didn’t have on his shoulder belts and then cut them to make it look like they failed. That’s why they wanted the photos sealed because we could see if he had marks from the belts or not neil bonnett had marks from his belts did Earnhardt? we will never know.

  11. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I’m sure Mayfield would take 5 million +court costs. Dontcha think? Or perhaps he’s uber-pissed and wants blood…..

  12. Richard in N.C. Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    As I recall it was Teresa and the Earnhardt family that wanted, rightly, to keep the Big E’s autopsy photos from Ed Hinton and the rest of the media and out of the press. It’s pretty clear that Brian France’s divorce and separation agreement has nothing to do with the Mayfield case and is just another sleasy lawyer trick to try to make NASCAR settle.

  13. trevor in daytona Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    NASCAR should settle… a lot of fans are really on mayfields side. clinical trials have proven Mayfield theory can be true and it should be looked into. Jeremy took several test from other sources and the only ones he failed were the ones given by NASCAR….hmmmm

  14. The Mad Man Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    If you’ve had a chance to read the official rulebook, it says that France is an official of NASCAR. The official NASCAR drug and alcohol policy says that every driver, crewmember, and official will be tested for drugs. If his divorce was based in part on drug and alcohol abuse, which some high powered lawyers based in Charlotte indicate it is, he has some serious questions to answer. Based on his palm tree bashing escapade and physical attributes laid out in the drug and alcohol abuse policy, he should also be checked for both drug and alcohol abuse. Has he ever been tested for either as called for by the official NASCAR policy? Nobody knows. What about his statement regarding “drivers coming up positive all the time”? Who are these drivers who have been positive and why haven’t they been suspended as called for by NASCAR’s own rules? And sealing documents and keeping them out of the public eye is nothing new for NASCAR. Try to find out what’s in the settlement with Mauricia Grant.

    Joe mentioned the residency issue. If he claimed NC as his residence in his divorce then he’s in big trouble in the Mayfield lawsuit where he’s claimed Florida as his residence plus it also gives his ex grounds for a countersuit against him.

  15. steven Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Brian France is probably the most disliked Nascar official ever. I believe that the Mad Man (above) is not mad and makes a ton of common sense in regard to King Brian.

  16. Richard in N.C. Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    The very last thing the sport needs is for NASCAR to settle with Mayfield, unless the settlement is public. This whole mess needs to be resolved in court in the light of day so the NASCAR-bashers in the media cannot spin it. Oh, and the only drug tests Mayfield flunked are the ones for which he was not notified in advance.

  17. Julia Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I really can’t stand Brian either, but I don’t see why Mayfield thinks Brians divorce is any of his business. It’s really not. The only reason I can think of, is that Mayfield really is a drug addict, and knows NA$CAR can prove it. But, if Mayfield has something dirty on Brian, then he can come right back and say, if you tell the truth that I am a druggie, I will spill the beans on Brian’s divorce. It sounds like something a guilty person would do. You now “if you tell on me, I’ll tell on you.” I just can’t see Mayfield as 100% innocent of any wrong doing as some say he is.

  18. Marc Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    “The Mad Man” even if France had issues with drugs, alcohol is legal don’t even go there, how does that pertain to Mayfield?

    It doesn’t, France is only the CEO\president of the company, he’s not the one who suspended Mayfield the Stock Car Commission did.

    As for his statement that said “drivers coming up positive all the time,” pretty sorry job of taking that quote out of context.

    He was specifically referring to others that have tested positive, i.e. a false positive and were subsequently cleared by testing the B sample. Something Mayfield has failed at three times and by two separate testing facilities.

    And BTW it’s a crime to seal court records? Since when? The Mauricia Grant case was settled and like many thousands of settled court cases in the U.S. the records are sealed.

    “The Mad Man” if that’s part of your argument you ain’t got much.

  19. The Mad Man Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Actually Marc, as an official of NASCAR, France is subject to the same rules regarding testing for drugs and alcohol and the penalties for their use/misuse as the drivers, crewmembers, and other officials at the track. If he has an issue with drugs and hasn’t been tested, then it shows an inconsistency with the drug and alcohol testing program and that France is receiving special treatment. Although alcohol may be legal, there are specific guidelines in the NASCAR drug and alcohol policy regarding being under the influence of alcohol and required actions by both the user/abuser and actions that NASCAR is supposed to take.

    Based on public speeches and actions France has taken, by the rules laid out in the Drug and Alcohol Policy, he should’ve already been tested for drug use. Slurred speech, stumbling like he did at Homestead almost dropping the trophy when presenting it to Johnson, broken promises, inability to concentrate or maintain attention, mental confusion, abnormal thoughts, and deteriorating personal appearance, like at Homestead during the post race ceremonies. All have been exhibited at one time or another during various TV interviews.

    The failed test by Mayfield were both conducted by Aegis Labs. Mayfield has tested with Lab Corp and showed no traces of any illegal substances. The actual testing done by Aegis Labs and their “normalizing” procedures aren’t recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a reliable drug testing procedure. When it comes to the B Sample, Mayfield was supposed to have the option to have it tested at an independent lab. Aegis tested the B Sample thus depriving Mayfield of an independent testing of the sample to validate the Aegis results. As Aegis Labs has already lost one case in Nashville over a false positive regarding a fireman, you’d think Aegis would be a little more careful with following procedures, testing protocols, and chain of custody.

    The context in which I read Frances statement regarding the “positives all the time” said nothing before or after them referring to driver later being cleared on their B Samples and this was in several articles, none of which made reference to the drivers being cleared on the B samples.

    It’s no crime to seal documents. The problem with the sealing of the France divorce documents is that they don’t meet the requirements in NC regarding the sealing of documents. He is not a law enforcement official involved in an on-going investigation or a Confidential Informant. He is not a minor whose identity needs to be protected. Had he wanted things kept private, he should’ve resorted to mediation.

  20. Jeremy Says:
    December 30th, 2009 at 1:09 am

    charlie, I agree There must be something wrong with Dale Jr to not run well in Hendrick equipment, but your comparisons are meaningless, both Vickers & Craven also won & ran well with other teams, so it was not just Hendrick equipment winning those races for them.
    Also
    It is well known that Earnhardt was wearing his belts, albeit improperly fastened, that is why they broke- not a manufacturing flaw but an installation flaw. That is how his skull was detached from his spine because his torso was held back (by the belts) and his head was free to go forward.
    And
    The sealing of his photos was a matter of respect for the man. Or I guess you wouldn’t have any problem with the photos of your dead mother plastered all over the internet & newspapers. Or would you?
    So before you start spouting off at the mouth you may want to go back to class & get your GED so you can read the news & possibly get your facts straight.

  21. Jeremy Says:
    December 30th, 2009 at 1:28 am

    While I agree that Brian France has ruined NASCAR, it has nothing to do with Jeremy Mayfield being a junkie, Dale Jr running poorly, or Dale Earnhardt’s family requesting that his autopsy photos being sealed from the public.

  22. Richard in N.C. Says:
    December 30th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Now of course the often biased NASCAR press would not want to report it, but the Wall St. Journal examined the substance abuse policies of several, major U.S. sports and found NASCAR’s to be one of the very best. Also, as I understand it, the NFL is in court now regarding the handling of the B sample, but solely due to state law in Minnesota. While they use a different lab, my understanding is that the NFL follows generally the same testing procedure as NASCAR. Many NASCAR-bashers in the press don’t want to report anything that requires real effort or that makes NASCAR look good.

  23. Kurt Smith Says:
    December 31st, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I am no fan of Brian France in any form–I agree with many that he has done great damage to the sport. But I wonder how many people siding with Mayfield now were strongly advocating drug-testing after a driver admitted to being high on heroin while racing.

    Anyone can look at the facts of what went on here and make an argument that Mayfield is telling the truth.

    The problem comes when people say, rather than just imply with diatribes about B-samples and what is “officially recognized”, that NASCAR deliberately targeted Mayfield to ruin his career and his life. NASCAR does some dumb things, but I doubt they could be this stupid. They would have to get a lot of people to lie and risk losing their entire huge business and millions of revenues to destroy a participant’s life for absolutely no apparent reason. Kind of weak on motive there.

    I’m reserving judgment until all of the court’s rulings come down, but from where I sit Mayfield doesn’t look very good.

  24. Marc Says:
    December 31st, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    mad man says…. “If he has an issue with drugs and hasn’t been tested, then it shows an inconsistency with the drug and alcohol testing program and that France is receiving special treatment.”

    Nice try, as you know I would hope the current testing regime is carried out on a random basis.

    So, unless you or Mayfield’s shysters can prove France’s name came up randomly and he either didn’t take a piss test, or did and failed as I said you got nothing.

    Again, nice try though.

    Mad Man… contunues to struggle…. “Although alcohol may be legal, there are specific guidelines in the NASCAR drug and alcohol policy regarding being under the influence of alcohol and required actions by both the user/abuser and actions that NASCAR is supposed to take.”

    Um, so, those provisions apply to crew members and drivers as they are the ones on the front line so to speak.

    Mad Man “Based on public speeches and actions France has taken, by the rules laid out in the Drug and Alcohol Policy, he should’ve already been tested for drug use.”

    That seems to be a personal opinion, show me a credible source holding the same. In fact if what you claim is so obvious show me any court filed document where Mayfield’s lawyers make the same claim.

    Lotsa luck finding it.

    Mad Man “The failed test by Mayfield were both conducted by Aegis Labs. Mayfield has tested with Lab Corp and showed no traces of any illegal substances.

    Puzzle me this, presumably you. and his bank of lawyers claim he popped positive because of taking a combo of Adderall and Claritin-D which will give a false positive for amphetamine (Adderall) and pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D).

    BUT, the court document filed in response to the July Sixth test done by NASCAR shows LabCorp found NOTHING in Mayfield’s sample.

    How is that possible when every scientific authority states that test should have shown a false positive for both amphetamine and pseudoephedrine? BTW, don’t believe me, contact me via my site, I’ll pass along the court doc in a PDF file.

    Mad Man “When it comes to the B Sample, Mayfield was supposed to have the option to have it tested at an independent lab. Aegis tested the B Sample thus depriving Mayfield of an independent testing of the sample to validate the Aegis results.

    BS, show me. Mayfield and his shysters have claimed all along NASCAR’s policy must follow Fed guidelines [which it doesn’t], yet no where in those Fed guidelines is a requirement for a B sample be tested by a second independent lab.

    The National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the Indy Racing League all use the same lab to test a B sample, so where’s the problem?

    Mad Man as to your point on Frances statement i.e. ““positives all the time,” ok you see another context but answer me this… if Mayfield has proof of other positives by other drivers why hasn’t that proof been entered into court records?

    By all indications the date before Judge Mullen on Jan 7th is an attempt to stop all following lawsuits. In that light one would think evidence would have been entered that not only proves other drivers are “dirty” and still driving but his assertion that his samples have been “spiked.”

    Why hasn’t proof been entered? Moreover, Mayfield has repeatedly claimed he would take a hair test starting in early June and again as late as Sept.

    On July 24th he said: “We’ve been letting [my hair] grow out, grow out, grow out every week because we are in the process of going to do that [hair test],” Mayfield said on the radio show. “But to be an accurate test, it has to be so long. As you can see, it’s pretty long for me right now. I have not cut my hair since May 1.”

    Where is it? And if he has taken it why isn’t it in Judge Mullen records?

    A final thought Mad Man as it relates to the use of Adderall and Claritin-D as Mayfield has claimed.

    High school football coach David Jason Stinson was acquitted in Sept in the death of a 15 year old player.

    Defense medical experts told jurors that it appeared a combination of heat, the use of the dietary supplement creatine and attention deficit disorder drug Adderall, and being ill were the main factors that contributed to the player’s death.

    High heat in a race car while taking Adderall has now been shown in a court of law NOT to be taken lightly.

    Regardless of the outcome of the Mayfield lawsuit the drug should be banned by NASCAR and every other sport.

  25. Just Sayin' Says:
    December 31st, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    After Earnhardt’s death, and prior to the sealing of the autopsy photos, the results were easily found on the Internet. I saw the photos and coroner’s comments. There was bruising consistent with the belts being in the proper position. But it was speculated that the belts were loose and Dale’s head hitting the steering wheel because of it being bent. But it was ruled out because of the lack of bruising to Dale’s face. Remember, the famous open faced helmet. Although NA$CAR tried to ruin Simpson, the belts were proven to have been cut by rescue workers.
    Bottom line is that Dale died of a Basil skull fracture that could have been prevented by the now mandatory Hans Device. And just like a Full Face helmet, ‘ole Ironhead wasn’t about to wear one those.

  26. charlie Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    If I remember the story I recall Rusty getting to view the car and he said the belts were fine and then they came up cut not torn. Dale Sr hit his head on the cage above the windshield and the only way he could have done this was to not have on his belts, you only move 8 inches with the belts on and he sat so far back and down inside the car he would have moved 3 feet to hit the window bar. Jeremy, you are right Craven and vickers ran well with other teams as did Dale Jr. but he can’t run well at HMS so tell me what is wrong. Maybe he is one of the false positives that NASCAR has talked about. Oh and one more thing when Bonett died in 94 from the same thing as SR he had a base skull fracture and there was no blood in the car and look at Dales it’s full of blood so he hit his head before he died or the blood would still be in his body but he was dead when they pulled him from the car and NASCAR didn’t say anything for hours after the fact because they saw the in car camera and they know what really went on inside that car and didn’t know at first how to cover it up. Maybe NASCAR didn’t want to world to see he had no balls. Anyone can see pictures of my dead family members because the photos are public records so get online and look all you want. Just so you know Jeremy I went to UK and if you don’t know that is a College

  27. charlie Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Just sayin, You didn’t get to see any photos of the dead Dale because they were never out there. all you saw was a report that can be changed because the photos were sealed and if nobody gets to see the photos how can they ever see what really went down. This was all a cover up. NASCAR has done so much crap in the past so why would anyone think that they couldn’t do anything wrong. Look at the driver that killed himself because he was kicked out for drugs, If all that was a lie like the Mayfield stuff NASCAR will be in real trouble and that’s why I think they are fighting Mayfield as hard as they are because if they they lose this onje NASACR will have a wrongful death to deal with.

  28. Bob Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    WOW, This is so true. NASCAR would have a huge case to fight if anyone could find this to be true.

  29. Richard in N.C. Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    As I recall there was a highly qualified examination of the cause of Ironhead’s death, and I believe the official autopsy report, without pictures, is available. Autopsies are highly invasive and not pretty, and the public has no right to see anyone’s autopsy pictures. The Earnhardt family, properly, went to court to keep the autopsy pictures from the press who wanted them for their own financial benefit.