The greatest rider in the history of AMA Superbike racing is calling it quits.Australian Mat Mladin, 37, the winningest rider in AMA Superbike history with 82 wins and six championships, announced that he would retire from AMA racing at the end of the 2009 season.In a news release on Friday afternoon, Mladin, who first came to the U.S. in 1996, said that “After so many great years of racing in the USA, I will retire from AMA racing at the end of the 2009 racing season in New Jersey.”The season finale is September 6 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.”My career has been long and above and beyond my wildest expectations. I won my first national championship on dirt bikes back in 1981 (28 years ago) and have had an amazing career ever since.”If I had my time again, I would not change a single decision I have made, in life or in racing.”Mladin thanked his team, most of which have been with him for years and some of whom date back to his days racing in Australia. “Without these guys, the 80+ race wins and multiple championships would not have been possible.”He also thanked his fans, who he said he’d miss, and his parents, “for getting me involved in such a fantastic sport that turned into my profession. I love you both.”Then he turned to his own family, his daughters Emily Jean and Jessica, who he said were “growing fast,” adding that it was “time I put my efforts into their future.”Of his wife Janine, who he met at a local running track in the Sydney suburb of Camden, he asked, “What can I say?”They met when she was training for the Australian National 100m sprint and 300m hurdles and she made it to the nationals in 1992. The two got together in January 1994 and were married in January 1998.”You have unselfishly given your time and efforts to this lifestyle of ours. Racing had its down days, but with you by my side it was easy to get up and smell the fresh air, and realize how lucky I am. You have been a rock for so long, and if I could live another 100 years I still would not have the time to repay you for your commitment. I love you babe.”Mladin has shown little love for the Daytona Motorsports Group, which took over AMA Pro Racing this year. He held his true feelings in check for most of the year, even complimenting some of the AMA Pro Racing personnel, but opened up two weeks ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where he said he’d “lost interest” in racing. Among the problems with the new regime is their attitude toward safety. Two of the final three tracks on the calendar were never seriously inspected and both have severe safety issues. The problems at Heartland Park Topeka are so severe that Mladin took the unprecedented step of withdrawing from competition and returning to his home in Chino Hills, California.Mladin practiced at Heartland Park Topeka, then posted his feelings on his Twitter feed. Stringing together several tweets, he wrote “So Topeka today! 170mph turn 1 and you can hit the concrete with your shoulder, which leads to turn 2 head on into concrete which leads to turn 3 where a wall has removed and if you run off the track you go into a 10ft deep ditch. the track seem willing to do work but the wrong people are advising what to do and unfortunately i do not wish to die or be busted up waiting for that work to be done. some riders are saying that the work will happen in stages. its the reason why some places we go now are still bad. because riders won’t stand up and be counted. amazing how great they can ride a bike but be the most gutless people I have ever known. spineless!”Mladin isn’t alone in his convictions. Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking withdrew from the race after this morning’s practice, but wasn’t talking to the media.The problem isn’t with the track itself, it’s with the guidance the track received. Track owner Raymond Irwin took it upon himself to remove over 100 yards of concrete wall lining the front straight prior to this year’s race. Without that, it was unlikely the race could have gone forward, according to several riders. The track removed more barriers overnight.As to what he’ll do next, Mladin said at Mid-Ohio that he had “some options as to do some other things and I have to seriously consider that.” As for World Superbike, he said, “Listen there’s a few things on the table that are open to me if I want to do them. But you know, and obviously World Superbike’s a fantastic that race the type of motorcycles that I would enjoy to race again, but in the end, we have to be honest with ourselves and…I’m not just going to just race for a paycheck. That’s just not how I operate. It’s not how I’ve ever been throughout my career and that’s why I’ve been reasonably successful.”He expected “the stuff we’ve seen this year will just continue on and maybe get worse and it’s just, it’s just nothing that really interests me. It’s not fun. That’s exactly right. I’m not going to put my life on the line if I’m not having fun. In the end I want to have fun. I think I’ve proven enough over the years that I put it on the line most of the time and at the moment it’s a struggle. That simple.”
Mladin Announces Retirement
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.