VIR Cancelled: AMA Pro Road Racing Eight Rounds

Henny Ray Abrams | July 11, 2011

BROOKLYN, NY, JULY 11 – The AMA Pro Road Racing championship has been thrown into chaos after the promoters of Virginia International Raceway pulled the plug a month before their mid-August event.A media alert distributed by the track said that “No AMA Pro Racing event will take place at VIR in 2011. If circumstances are conducive in 2012, VIR looks forward to renewing its relationship with AMA Pro Racing.”AMA Pro Racing issued their own release saying, “It is with deep regret that AMA Pro Racing is forced to announce VIR’s cancellation of the Suzuki White Lightning Nationals, Round 8 on the AMA Pro Road Racing season calendar. Despite AMA Pro Racing’s efforts to preserve the originally scheduled August 12-14 event, VIR staff notified AMA Pro Racing late Monday, July 11, of its final decision not to host or promote the race weekend.”AMA Pro Racing has made VIR a part of its season calendar for the past decade,” said AMA Pro Racing COO and Managing Member David Atlas, “and I am gravely disappointed by the impact this will have on our paddock, fans, and other series participants. I assure all of those involved parties that a significant effort was made to negotiate an arrangement that would have preserved the event.”AMA Pro Racing officials had always been careful about releasing dates until contracts were signed, which raises the question about whether VIR is in breach of contract.The cancellation means that the 2011 AMA PR series will have only eight races, a number not seen since 1990. And it also has a profound effect on the championships. With only three current races remaining, one on the undercard of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend and the current doubleheader season finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park, it puts further pressure on the championship aspirants. One of the rumors circulating at Mid-Ohio that a final race would be added at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Labor Day Monday, possibly with double points or a double purse, but that hasn’t been confirmed.Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young finished the Mid-Ohio weekend with an 11-point cushion on Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes in the Superbike Championship. And RMR Geico’s Danny Eslick leads Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, 214-199, in Daytona SportBike. With two of his riders denied two races in their quest for titles, Yamaha race boss Keith McCarty knows that every point is valuable.

“I think the series has kinda been a seesaw, so you’re going to be ahead one weekend and behind another,” McCarty said. “And if it holds true and there’s not another event, it absolutely makes every point more valuable for either Josh and for the paddock in general. Some riders were moving up from a tough start of year.”He also said he doesn’t “think it’s a good thing for anybody when you’re expecting to have a full complement of events.”Having one less race means less exposure for the teams and less television time.The cancellation may also be a breach of AMA Pro Racing’s television contract with SPEED. The contract is thought to call for 10 events, with AMA Pro Racing considering the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XR1200 race at Indinapolis Motor Speedway the 10th.McCarty isn’t opposed to adding another event, “if it was all within reason, absolutely. I would love to see something else. The news is so sudden. Where are we at? Did we make plane reservations, which we probably have? We’re trying to plan for everything. This changes the complexion of everything.”The worst part is, I asked the obvious question about the track in Georgia; that’s not going to happen. The choices become less inviting as you go down the line. The economy for everybody is very, very difficult.”McCarty said he was disappointed that the paddock presents a “pretty good package and we can’t get tracks to do their part.” He added, “It’s disheartening to have a partner that doesn’t want to be a partner.”And he was also dismissive of VIR’s offer to hold a race in the future.”If this is how they’re going to treat us, if they only want us there when everything perfect, then I don’t want to be there,” he said.The cancellation comes on the heels of the announcement by Atlas at the Mid-Ohio riders meeting that there wouldn’t be a final round at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, California, on Halloween weekend. Adding a race at this point would be a significant investment for a track and could be a financial disaster if there wasn’t enough time to promote it properly.



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.