Purses Lowered For AMA Road Racing

Henny Ray Abrams | December 1, 2009

In its first year of operation, the Daytona Motorsports Group-run AMA Pro Road Racing made it clear they’d let the fans decide which was the premier class. In 2010, they’ve made up their minds.The purse for the American Superbike class has been slashed from $73,500 – at all the races except Daytona, which paid $110,000 – to just $6500 for 2010. Meanwhile, the Daytona SportBike class has also been cut by more than half, from $73,500 to $30,500, but continues to pay to 20th place. The purse breakdown for Superbike is $3500 for first, down from $7500; $2000 for second, down from $4000; and $1000 for third, formerly $4000. The SportBike winner will earn $2500 less, $5000 compared to $7500, second will get $3000; it was $4000 in 2009, and third earns half of the $4000 it earned this year. Fourth through 10th earns $1500 and 11th through 20th pockets $1000.As one privateer team owner said of the $1500 purse, “That doesn’t even cover half the tire bill. It’s going to knock out the privateers.”The size of the purse will be a disincentive for riders considering the American Superbike class, which will certainly have a much smaller grid.

As of this writing, there are three confirmed Superbike riders; Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young and Tommy Hayden, and Yamaha’s Josh Hayes. Michael Jordan Motorsports is expected to have two riders, though nothing has been formalized. The Jordan team has been in talks with a number of manufacturers, but is likely to stay with Suzuki. Expect M4 Suzuki to have two riders.BMW hasn’t been able to secure funding to run a team and isn’t expected to have a definitive decision on its racing plans until early December. Aprilia would like to showcase its RSV4 in the American Superbike class, though, they, too, can’t do it without outside sponsorship. No decision has been made on Ducati’s involvement in Larry Pegram’s racing program. Yamaha would like to place Ben Bostrom on the Pat Clark Motorsports team, which ran Steve Rapp this year. Kawasaki, as of this writing, hasn’t committed any resources to road racing. American Honda previously stated they wouldn’t be involved in AMA Pro Road Racing, which meant that Erion Honda was left without funding.The lack of riders and uncertainty has left a number of riders looking for work. Among them are Roger Lee Hayden, Jamie Hacking, Jake Zemke, the aforementioned Ben Bostrom, Aaron Yates, Geoff May, Jake Holden, and Taylor Knapp. Knapp may ride an XR1200 for Latus Harley-Davidson, if that spec class becomes a reality.The changes to the purse were made public in the entry forms for the 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing series, which also addressed changes in the race-weekend format. The series would continue to have three primary sprint classes – American Superbike, Daytona SportBike, and SuperSport – which will add a second race at most events. The Moto-GT class has been eliminated and the 450cc Single class won’t be included, due to a lack of interest. The form does leave open the possibility of more classes, though none are named. The most likely is the Harley-Davidson XR1200 class, which may be a hard sell, given the perilous state of a number of Harley dealerships.Also changed will be the make-up of the race weekends. In a bid to reduce costs, teams will move in on Friday morning and have one session – all sessions with be timed qualifying sessions: in the afternoon and another on Saturday morning. Superpole has been eliminated. Each of the three classes will have a race on Saturday and another on Sunday. Superbike and SportBike races will run approximately 50 miles, with SuperSport races about 35 miles in length. At most locations, the Sunday schedule will be very similar to Saturday.The Friday move-in also eliminates Thursday promoter practice, which has been a point of contention for a number of years. The move may not be very popular with track promoters, who made money renting the track on Thursday.The SuperSport class, which also has a reduced purse, will be split into two categories: Top Guns and Young Guns. Top Guns is for riders with current Expert Licenses from “recognized road-racing organizations” who may post enter on the first morning of the race weekend. Top Gun points count toward purses, but not toward points standings or a championship. All Top Gun riders will be invited to take part in a Top Gun Shootout at the final race of the year. The winner of that race will be declared the AMA Pro Top Gun SuperSport National Champion. Top Gun riders aren’t eligible to race in American Superbike or Daytona SportBike.The Young Guns class, whose riders must pre-enter, looks similar to the 2009 rules, with 16- to 21-year-old riders needing a 2010 AMA Pro membership and a 2010 National Junior License. Again there will be East and West Regional Championships with a combined shootout in the final race of the year. Young Guns will also be banned from the senior sprint classes.The entry form states that “The equipment rules for the two categories differ only in the required use of eligible equipment by the Young Guns riders,” though it doesn’t elaborate. The technical rules for the 2010 championship have yet to be released, but are expected to be similar to the 2009 rules.

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.