Loudon Again?

Henny Ray Abrams | June 15, 2008
Could the AMA Superbike Championship return to New Hampshire International Speedway? It’s possible, according to Daytona Motorsports Group CEO Roger Edmondson.

“It’s impossible not to address potentially a return to New Hampshire,” Edmondson told the Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire in Saturday’s edition.

The AMA last raced at Loudon in 2001, the year that the top riders boycotted the 600cc Supersport race out of safety concerns on the wet track. Scott Greenwood won the race. Eric Bostrom won the final Superbike race for Kawasaki.

Track safety was an issue for years leading up to the boycott. Ten years ago, American Honda’s Miguel Duhamel shattered his femur when he hit an unprotected wall on a wet track. The career of Harley-Davidson factory rider Thomas Wilson ended at Loudon.

In the same article in the Union Leader, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin said Mladin said, “It needs changes … honestly the changes would have to be dramatic.”

The track course, which is virtually unchanged since the AMA days, has a number of areas that would have to be addressed and would have to be so drastically altered as to be unrecognizable from the current configuration.

Mladin, long a safety advocate, was once fined $5000 for his comments critiquing a newspaper article during a Loudon news conference

In recent days, Edmondson has taken an aggressive approach toward wet racing. Last weekend’s AMA edict that racing would take place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, rain or shine, was followed with an open letter suggesting every track would be made suitable for any condition. Rider reaction was strong at Mid-Ohio, with Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ben Spies saying that none of the factory riders would race in the rain a the Lexington facility.

Edmondson made it clear in the Union Leader that rider safety isn’t a priority.

“There’s no more conservative group of people than motorcycle racers,” the paper quoted him as saying when speaking of changes to AMA racing, including adding different venues. “They have a comfort zone the size of a gnat.”

New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s general manager Jerry Gappens told the Union Leader, “I’m willing to do what it takes within reason. There’s a lot of pride and history involved with the event … You can’t create history and tradition overnight so I think that’s one of the values of this great event. It kicks off Bike Week for Laconia and for this region. It brings in a lot of tourist dollars and people to our area.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.