Woodside race car driver Mike Hedlund is suing his former race team, claiming it failed to ensure his Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia race car was kept "in safe and worthy condition" on the circuit.
The suit, filed Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court, also alleges that the team, DragonSpeed LLC, "wrongfully and without justification" held onto the $450,000 car after he terminated his deal until he paid $48,325 it said he owed.
"I would use the word extort," Hedlund's San Francisco-based lawyer, Donald Drummond, said Friday in an interview.
Elton Julian, a managing member of DragonSpeed, called the allegations "absolutely false."
"We will be looking forward to presenting our case against a person with very deep pockets trying to intimidate the 'little guy' because he was disappointed with his racing results," Julian wrote in an email Friday.
According to the suit, Hedlund, 36, began racing on the professional circuit in 2012.
He and DragonSpeed entered into a driver agreement in January whereby the team was to provide support so Hedlund could participate in the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge -- a series of 12 races conducted across the nation between March and September.
After three races, Hedlund terminated his agreement around April 26 because of safety concerns, the suit states. His support team failed to turn on the car's fire safety system, he claimed in the suit. And at the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach the team secured a window net release strap with zip ties, which would have made it difficult for him to exit the car quickly in the event of an accident or fire. At the third race, in Birmingham, Ala., his tires weren't properly inflated prior to a qualifier race, the suit states.
Evidence and affidavits of engineers and his lead mechanic will show that the claims are "all untrue," Julian wrote.
By the time he ended his deal with DragonSpeed, Hedlund had already paid the company $303,767 for its services, which was supposed to include race entry fees for the season, the suit states.
The $48,325 invoice submitted by Julian included $23,000 for entry fees. Hedlund said he paid "under protest" to get his Ferrari back.
After missing four races in the season, Hedlund is back on the track and racing this weekend in the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma, according to Drummond.
The suit claims breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, conversion, and unfair business practices. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, restitution, and reimbursement of fees and costs.