Motocross, Supercross and Supermoto legend Jeff Ward started his job as AMA Pro Racing/DMG rider liaison at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California this weekend, the mult-time champion spending his time walking the pits and talking to riders and crews as a part of a new “friendly” DMG.We sat down with Ward for a quick interview today to see how things were going.
How did all this come about for you?I’ve known David Atlas [AMA Pro Racing CEO] for about 18 years with the Indy Car stuff and I did some other projects with him. I know he was involved with Jimmy France with the Daytona Prototype Series and I did the Daytona 24 Hour and he was a little bit a part of that. Jimmy France sponsored our team with the riders with Scott Russell and [Jason] Pridmore… I knew what was going on last year with the AMA and DMG and the whole thing. David was somewhat involved a little bit and then when he became the head guy and knew what was going on, he gave me a call to see if I would be interested in doing this or that. I don’t know if that was the middle of last year or what, but at the time it was still… well, I didn’t know that I wanted to be involved. And I didn’t know what I was going to be doing this year. I am still racing trucks so I wanted to make sure that my scheduling was proper so that I wasn’t just going to be here for a couple of races and just be a name that they used. But I can make it to about eight of the races, so I told them that it would fit in and everything looks cool. I think this is something that can be fun for me down the road.What have you been doing this weekend?Well, I know all the riders, well most of them, not all of them. A lot of them I’ve known for a long time. We want to be very approachable and as you can see they are. I want to be somebody for the riders to be able to come to. When I’m talking to them they are going to tell me things that they are concerned about, just more as a rider and a friend more than anything. I can relay that and if questions come up I can understand where they are coming from a little bit. I just want them to make them feel like their voices are being heard a little bit, but I think as you’ve seen here that they are approachable and willing to work things out. I think it should be fun.What do you think is the major issue at this point?I wasn’t here last year, but I’ve been in these situations with the AMA and even other series and when there’s a conflict it’s just not fun. It just seems like everytime you come to these things, everybody is already looking to butt heads. We have to look at the big picture of the series and where we want to get it because it just makes it better for everyone when everyone is talking positive and people want to be a part of it. Last year, everybody was hurting, the economy was hurting and sponsorships are hurting. It’s hard to get sponsorships so to have a series that has a negative vib to it… nobody wants to come to it. We need to get it moving forward and get everybody excited about it and talking about it and that seems to be what’s happening.You’re going to be involved with DMG’s other properties as well, right?I’m involved with flat track, but I haven’t done anything there yet. This is my first weekend and I’m just feeling things out and seeing where I can help out. Hopefully, I can give some input there and just work into the role that I’m going to have. I’m just not sure where it’s going to leave. They have the motocross as well, but Davey Coombs is on that. If there’s something I can do to help that side out, then I’m more than willing to do that to. This is just the starting point to see where I fit in.”