This Is Confidential
by dfa
Friday, December 14, 2012

Carl Fogarty agrees that he will:

1. Not reveal any technical information or matters of secrecy concerning the materials or test made on the materials to any third party, except to Ducati mechanics or other persons authorized by Ducati either during or after the validity of this agreement.

How important are trade secrets and the protection of information that a manufacturer culls from racing? Well, the above is on the first page of the Ducati contract that Carl Fogarty signed in 1993. The trade secret clause is the first condition that Ducati required Fogarty to agree to, that's how important it is.

The contract between Foggy and Ducati is believed a commonly worded agreement, meaning nearly all contracts between riders and teams include confidentiality clauses a lot like this one.

"The first rule of this team is secrecy" is how the very first team meeting of a big AMA Superbike team began in the 1990s. All employees of the team, the riders, cooks, mechanics and other personnel--including the team's truck driver--were required to sign Non Disclosure Agreements at the meeting.

It struck us as interesting when we had Eric Bostrom on for a Soupkast by Honda in 2005 and we asked about the much rumored about Kawasaki traction control system used by the team in the late 1990s and Bostrom would not confirm or deny the existence of the technology. Later, he hinted that he didn't really want to be sued over a data leak, and that's why he was intentionally vague. Bostrom had not ridden for that team in years at that point.

All of this stems in part back to 1960s Grand Prix racing when Ernst Degner left MZ under dark of night (okay, it was daylight) for Suzuki's GP team, taking with him a working knowledge of their beautiful little two stroke and allegedly, some parts. Very quickly Suzuki had new-found competitiveness.

As time passes it becomes more difficult to prove damage in these cases but few retired riders or mechanics wish to embroil themselves in any lawsuit. Litigation in racing is more common than you might think. In fact, just this year a rider was threatened with a lawsuit for wearing his old team's leathers in a practice session.

When asked if he planned to write a book about his racing endeavors, Australian Superbike Superhero Troy Bayliss said he didn't, because he would never be able to tell the true story that took place behind the scenes.


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