AMA Road Racing To Get Spec 450cc Singles Class

Paul Carruthers | July 5, 2009

The AMA Pro Road Racing Series will stay the same as far as the top two classes – American Superbike and Daytona SportBike – for next season, but the Supersport class will be tweaked as to who can race in it, and a new 450cc singles spec class will be added to the weekend schedule, according to AMA Pro Racing CEO Roger Edmondson.Edmondson held a press conference this morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to introduce the “Formula 450″ class, but took the opportunity to discuss the series for next year as well.”There are a lot of questions about what we are going to do with our class structure for next year so let me begin by talking things that you are not expecting me to talk about and that’s SportBike and Superbike, both of which will continue as they are with mild evolutions on the rules,” Edmondson said. “We’re working on trying to eliminate some of the rules that were written… perhaps that were written in one part of the building while another part wrote something else. We’re trying to sort those things out and get the rulebook caught up on both of those catagories.”The big change will come in the Supersport class – but not in regard to the equipment used. The class will now be open to club-racing Experts of any age – in addition to the 16-21 year olds who will compete for a separate “Rookie Of The Year” title.”On Supersport, which this year has only been open to 16 to 21 year olds riders… next year will be open to all club-racing experts,” Edmondson said. “So no matter what your organization is, whether it’s WERA or CCS or AFM or any of the other great organizations around the country, if you’ve got an Expert license you will be able to come to an AMA Pro race and run Supersport using the spec tires, of course, and running the same rules that everybody else has to run. Now that program will not have a culmative points championship for the general entry population. It will have instead a program where those events will be qualifiers for a year-end run-off National Championship race and the first year that will be for sure at Daytona. Within that, we we will continue to keep separate points for the 16 to 21 year old rookie of the year program so we can recognize seperately those riders who are in that age group and are the coming stars for the future.”At that point, Edmondson turned his attention to the 450cc class, though that too came with a bit of a surprise in that he has opted to make it a spec-bike class and is hoping to attract a manufacturer to step up and provide the equipment for the series. The series, according to Edmondson, will feature 30 identical motorcycles that young riders will lease for the season in an “arrive and ride” program.”The big interesting item today is our commitment to work with Gavin [Trippe,the former promoter of the United States Motocross Grand Prix at Carlsbad Raceway and the man credited with inventing Supermoto, or Superbikers as it was known back then] to introduce the Formula 450 to AMA Pro Racing,” Edmondson said. “Hopefully, we are going to have this program up and running as a professional category for 2010. It’s not impossible that we may run into some snags and have to put that off as a full-fledged season program for 2011, but we will know in short order.”Our concept is a little bit different than Gavin’s. He’s worked on this for a long time and has a great idea with the idea that there are all these 450 motocross and Supermoto bikes out there with a little effort and a little work and the right kit, can be turned into road racers that should create a very interesting class – both visually and competition wise. Our belief is that, on the Pro level, we need to look at a totally different business model and so we are going to be working with various manufacturers in an effort to come up with a single manufacturer for a spec bike that would end up being an arrive and ride program. In other words, all the bikes would come in one truck, would all be tuned by one company and the motorcycles would remain ours. Very much like the Red Bull Rookies Cup Program where the bikes were all the same and all prepared equally. But this would become, at that point and time, the new young gun’s program. It will become a lease program with everything inclusive – tires, fuel, insurance, entry fees. All the stuff you need to go racing for the full season for one fee and we think that’s the way to do the process.”Gavin is going to work with us on creating the kit that will allow people to buy these bikes no matter which organization they race with around the country, and know that if they are a WERA racer for example and they come out here to run an AFM race, the equipment here will be the same equipment that they are running back east. There will be one approved set of rules and one approved set of equipment. And that’s the gist of my part of it.”Although nearly every manufacturer in the world now makes a 450cc single of some sort, Edmondson says making the series a spec series is a must.”I believe that we are going to be better off for the young guns program if we control the motorcycles,” Edmondson said. “The industry has shown in the past a desire to win championships no matter what they are and we end up with a young gun’s program that is designed to showcase new talent, and we end up with it being used to showcase motorcycles. I think the only way to make sure that we are looking purely at what the rider is doing, is to make sure the bikes are all the same. And that is our plan. Now what I have to find is a dance partner. I have to find a manufacturer who is prepared to create that motorcycle for us the way we believe it should be – and only for that purpose. The best program is one where the bike doesn’t change year in and year out and there is no obsolecence. One stop shopping – father can walk up and put down a check and know that his son is racing is covered that year and he can show what his talents can do.”And what of the MotoGT Series that ran at certain rounds this year?”We’re not here to talk about MotoGT right now, but it’s going to continue,” Edmondson said.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.