The Daytona Motorsport Group’s Roy Janson and Mike Kidd hosted a meeting for the flat track racing community this past Saturday, July 26, at the Clarion Hotel in Hagerstown, Md., to give riders and teams an outline on the future of the AMA Grand National Championship. Janson and Kidd gave a blunt and honest assessment of the current state flat track racing and admitted that it was going to be hard work to build the series up to anything resembling its former glory.
Highlights of the meeting included the announcement that the AMA Grand National Championship, while retaining Twins and Singles championship, would crown a single AMA Grand National Champion based on the combined points. The structure for Grand National rules would remain largely the same with some tweaking of engine intake capacity by use of restrictor plates. The Grand National Singles will now utilize stock frames. The Expert Twins class was going to be dropped as the support class in favor of a yet to be named 450cc Singles class for novice racers using stock frames.
While being realistic Kidd, who won the 1981 AMA Grand National Championship and went on to become a highly successful promoter of AMA Arenacross, gave the attendees hope that Grand National racing could be improved and he was going to take steps in 2009 than would bring the sport to a higher standard.
After a brief intro on who and what the DMG was (the company will do future business as AMA Pro Racing) Janson spotlighted a number of challenges facing flat track racing from an historic perspective, including the dwindling pool of competitors.
Kidd then began a PowerPoint presentation briefly explaining the outline of the new rules that included a spec tire, fuel and engine valve angles. The Dash (formerly called the Camel Dash back in the 1980s and early ‘90s) will make a return at the nationals, a money race for the top five timed qualifiers. The Dash will also pay Grand National points, so it takes on an added significance.
Kidd then went on to explain plans to bring media and sponsors back to the series. He also promised to help teams in any way possible to bring in additional sponsors, even going as far as closing a deal with a potential sponsor if needed.
It was announced that purses would not be increased in the near term with a graphic showing how much of each ticket sold at a Grand National went towards the purse, a much higher percentage as compared to Supercross and motocross (surprisingly road racing comparisons weren’t made).
Other changes include a dedicated track manager who would go ahead of every national and help prepare the tracks to a certain standard. Series announcers, a greatly updated website, a more concise racing program and strong efforts to secure a television package for the series were also mentioned.
Reaction to the presentation was largely positive.
Chris Carr, the veteran champion who most others look to for reaction, said nothing the DMG said scared him. “At least they were honest and didn’t fill everyone with a lot of false hope,” Carr said. “I liked some of the things I heard. I just hope they follow through.”
The only major dissension came from one long-time tuner who said it’s hard to believe the same guys who failed in Formula USA flat track racing were now going to save the AMA Grand Nationals. There was also talk of the restrictor-plate rules making it impossible for Suzuki and Aprilia to compete with Harley-Davidson, although the DMG said the rules were not yet set in stone.
JR Schnabel said “I was encouraged by the presentation and hope the new leadership can bring major sponsorship back into the sport. The bottom line is that the riders need to make some kind of living from racing. You can only do it for the love of the sport so long.”
The talk in the AMA Grand National pits mainly focused on the hope that the DMG would improve the series. Even the possibility of a once again thriving AMA Grand National Championship is a hope that this beleaguered old championship and its riders cling to.