The AMA Flat Track Championship has recently been the setting in which a lot of behind-the-scenes chatter has been taking place, specifically with regard to the immediate and long-term future of the series, and how certain proposed changes by AMA Pro Racing will impact that future.

It was not quite one month ago when Cycle News first learned that there was a potential course change slated for AMA Flat Track. On Thursday, August 25, before the Springfield Mile doubleheader weekend it was learned that a conference call reportedly took place among AMA Pro Racing officials and the AMA dirt track advisory board. Cycle News has confirmed that AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth, AMA Pro Racing Director of Competition Merrill Vanderslice, AMA Pro Racing Director of Communications Kerry Graeber were a party to the conference call, as were AMA dirt track advisory board members Chris Carr, Eddie Adkins, Greg Crow, Pat Alexander of American Suzuki and Anne Paluso of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Additionally, two other Harley-Davidson employees not on the dirt track advisory board were involved in the conversation: Scott Miller, Harley-Davidson Director of Parts & Accessories Marketing/Director of Harley-Davidson Racing, and Gary Stippich, Flat Track Team Manager.

On September 4, following the Springfield Mile, AMA dirt track advisory board member Chris Carr held a closed-door meeting at the Northfield Inn in Springfield to discuss the initial proposal presented to advisory board by AMA Pro Racing to a number of team owners, riders, mechanics and other dirt track stakeholders. Cycle News requested to be present that meeting, but that request was declined.

Cycle News has since obtained a copy of a document prepared by AMA Pro Racing entitled "AMA Flat Track Championship Summary Plan." This document, published in its entirety below, does shed light on the AMA's initial plan. Cycle News spoke to Hollingsworth on September 26, and while Hollingsworth objected over our decision to run the document, he candidly spoke on the record about AMA Pro Racing's objectives and concerns for the future of flat track racing. Those comments will be published alongside comments from Harley-Davidson officials as well as officials from a number of the non-American Oes, riders and team owners in an upcoming issue of Cycle News. Stay tuned.

The following is from the AMA draft that has been circulated:

BACKGROUND

* AMA Flat Track once again faces an uncertain future;

*Risk Reward for new promoters is out of balance;
- consistent scheduling problems
- cost overruns
- highly concentrated (Illinois) geographic spread of events

*Structure limits OEM involvement and investment
- Manufacturers must utilize both singles and twins to win Championships, while production is more specialized

*AMA Flat Track is FAILING to attract new spectators:
- Attendance is down 30 percent from 2000 levels

*In a soft economy/market, available resources will DECLINE;

OBJECTIVES

1) Better risk/reward for promoters;
2) Improved fan experience;
3) Enhanced opportunity for OEM involvement;
4) Increased promotional support for events;
5) Lower equipment costs;
6) Maintain existing purses on "Legacy" events;
OPTIONS

*Status Quo:
- May results in fewer resources from H-D
- Will not address long-term decline

*Create New Plan:
- Separate singles and twin
- Experiment with new venues
- Provide opportunity for Japanese OEM involvement
- Provide significant promotional support to events

TIMELINE

* Phase I - 2006 Introduction
- Introduce two products into the market (singles and twins)
- GNC Lites consists of 10 - 12 races:
* 1 or 2 stand-alone events;
* 3 - 4 "combined" events;
* 4 - 5 "support" events (at half-miles or shorter)
- GNC consists of approximately 12 races:
* Maintain existing technical rules
* Examine equipment rules to lower costs
- Initiate Harley-Davidson Event Promotional Support Program
- Test new facilities/surfaces;
- Recruit new promoters;

*Phase II - 2006/07
- Fully deploy Harley-Davidson Event Promotional Support Program;
- Require rules changes that lower equipment costs over time;
- Reintroduce key markets;

*Phase III - 2007/2008
- Determine effective elements;
- Re-examine rider/team/purse structure;

OTHER ISSUES

* Impact on Peoria, Springfield and Daytona;
* Finalize details of Harley-Davidson promotional support program;
* Changing role for Harley-Davidson;
* Impact on AMA;
* Plan to develop consistent look and feel for events;
* Willingness to amend course to meet new objectives;

Flat Track News

By Scott Rousseau

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