King, Harley to Skip AMA Charlotte Half Mile

| July 24, 2002
To settle any doubts, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company has confirmed that Rich King and the Harley-Davidson factory racing team will skip the AMA Wendy’s Half Mile at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, so that it can concentrate on the Formula USA Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky. Both races are scheduled for July 27.

“This particular weekend, it is more valuable for the team to contest the Formula USA race in Kentucky,” Harley-Davidson communications manager Paul James said. “Rich King is in the battle for the Formula USA National Dirt Track Championship, and this makes a lot of sense because he is not in the hunt in the AMA points for obvious reasons.” James also mentioned the inclusion of a twins race on the program (The Super Singles & Twins Challenge) as a factor in the decision, as well as the fact that factory team rider Jennifer Snyder will be present at Lexington already.

While the reasons for the move may in fact be obvious, there are historical implications surrounding the team’s decision to skip Charlotte. It marks the first time in history that the Harley-Davidson factory dirt track team has willfully chosen to contest an event under another sanction that was in direct conflict with an AMA National. The closest that the team had ever come to electing not to race an AMA event in recent years was when it withdrew from the Fresno Mile in 1992 over safety concerns.

In a related matter, Cycle News has learned that there has been a recent controversy between AMA Pro Racing and Harley-Davidson regarding the disbursement of certain Harley-Davidson contingency awards to riders who were clearly not complying with the terms of the contingency program. The situation reportedly incensed the Motor Company greatly.

“We’re aware of it,” James said of the controversy, “but I don’t believe that had any effect on the decision of the factory team to go to the Formula USA race this weekend.”

James also said that the factory team will not make any immediate decision as to where it will race in case of the next scheduling conflict, but rather make its calls on a week-by-week basis.

By Scott Rousseau