Road Race Promoters To Meet With DMG

Henny Ray Abrams | August 11, 2008

They’ve been left out of the discussion for far too long, but the promoters of the tracks that make up the AMA Superbike Championship will finally have their voices heard. The members of the Road Race Industry Council will meet with DMG boss Roger Edmondson on August 22, the weekend of the Grand-Am race at Infineon Raceway. The meeting will be the first where the promoters have gotten a chance to collectively discuss their concerns with Edmondson. And the point that they plan to make as a group is the same one they’ve made individually; the AMA Superbike Championship isn’t that badly broken that it needs drastic surgery. “The rationale behind this is to get positions clarified and get away from speculation, get away from misconceptions and get to a point where there’s a rational discussion can be held that hopefully will be lead to a community of professional racing that will pick up and move forward in whatever format it takes,” said Alan Wilson, CEO and general manager of Miller Motorsports Park. “You can’t prejudge something like this. At least you can go in with people, with a fair opportunity of people who can say what they need to say without the pressures of speculation and whatever else it is. That’s a long winded way of saying we just want to hear other out. Only then can you start taking real positions.” Wilson has as big a stake as anyone. MMP promoted its first combined World Superbike/AMA Superbike weekend this past June and already has a date for 2009. Edmondson said he planned to take the series back to MMP, but if it’s a glorified club series, as some fear, it may not enhance the program. Wilson, like his colleagues, doesn’t see the need for the radical changes that the DMG is planning to implement. And he also worries about the loss of manufacturer involvement. “The bottom line has been to leave everything as it for another year and let’s just get on with it and then take the time to be rational people, every single one of us,” he said. “I’ve got to be rational. It may not come down to what I want, it’s got to come down to what’s best and we all have to look at it that way, but give us time to do it. “We’ve said that from day one. Let’s just get on with it for another year. It’s not that bad that it needs that drastic confusion. Let’s just get on with it for one more year, but carry on talking about it for 2010. To me that’s the single most rational question or request that’s come out from anybody.” As it is the series will feature American Superbike, similar to the current Superstock class with spec tires and fuel; Daytona Superbike, a horsepower and weight-restricted class with spec tires and fuel; Moto-ST and Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup at select events; and, possibly, Factory Superbike, based on 2009-2010 rule previously agreed to by the OEM’s. Edmondson has queried the manufacturers about their involvement in Factory Superbike. The deadline for their responses comes well before the meeting, which means the class structure could be already be set. Wilson was recently thrust into the spotlight when a memo he wrote was leaked to the media. The memo, which didn’t carry his name but which he acknowledged writing, discussed the issues involved with starting a series, something he, more than any other promoters, knows something about. But, he pointed out in a phone conversation, this was not a call to action, rather a sober assessment of the pitfalls and perils. “Call it a reality check,” he said. “If people are speculating about doing something, you have to consider the reality of doing it. I’ve taken the time to put it on paper.” He acknowledged the difficulty of such an endeavor and that working “with and with-in the DMG umbrella should always be considered and given priority of choice.” But there are substantial differences. Wilson, and many of his fellow promoters, are adamant that the manufacturers be involved. Asked how important they were, he said, “Extremely. I mean, to a huge degree. And the reasons are very simple; they are the finance in the series, in pro racing. They sponsor different tracks, they pay the riders, they do promotion. These are things that if they go away, the checkbook, in blunt terms, gets closed. Certainly us as a track, and I’m sure other tracks, can’t afford to run an event off that kind without that kind support. “And it’s not just that Honda sponsor us. But when Honda comes, Yamaha do things, Kawasaki do things, Suzuki do things. It’s all additional money. They all put out PR and they all help promote the event, some of them more aggressively than others.” He added that “it’s not just the sponsoring guy, it’s the industry as a whole that makes these events work. I’ve got to be honest, maybe one or two tracks make a lot of money out of this, but most tracks I believe are marginal, certainly in respect to the amount of money that’s invested in the track. The return is not exciting. None of us can afford to lose that kind of support. So from that point of view, it’s crucial.” The 2009 World Superbike weekend will be held May 31, Wilson said. Whether they have a second stand-alone motorcycle event will be decided after the August 22 meeting. Wilson believes it will take three to four years to legitimately spin off a separate AMA event and that 2009 is too soon. “At the moment, it has to if I’ve got no option, but I don’t want it that way.” Edmondson has said he would continue to take the AMA series to MMP on the World Superbike weekend for at least one more year. The question is whether the AMA series will be worth having and not a glorified club event, as some fear. “We’ve got to consider it, but we’ve got to consider it on its merits,” Wilson said of a second date. “We don’t known what a sanction fee is, I don’t know how many riders it would be. I’m not going to say I’m not going to consider it, it’s just that we’d have to make a decision very quickly.”

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.