The announcement last week that a group led by Wayne Rainey was taking over road racing in the U.S. isn’t as important as the demolition of the Berlin Wall, but if you are a racer, a team in the series, or a fan of American road racing, it sure feels like it. MotoAmerica means a fresh start and new hope. For a series that needs a massive dose of both.
I covered my first AMA National road race for Cycle News in 1985 (I was 12… okay, I wasn’t) and Rainey rode a pair of MacLean Racing Honda two-strokes to victory in two of the races (a 250 in Formula Two and a 500 in Formula One) that weekend at Sears Point. And I’ve covered his career in these pages ever since. I’ve also covered a vast majority of the AMA road races since that day at Sears.
So do I have pony in this show? I guess I do. I consider Rainey a friend and a man who I have a huge amount of respect for – and only a portion of that respect comes from what he was able to do on a motorcycle in winning two AMA Superbike titles and three 500cc World Championships. The rest comes from the man that he is today and the man that he always has been: Honest, fair… determined. A good husband and a good father. And someone who is deeply passionate about his sport.
That’s how I feel about Rainey, so if you want to bow out of reading the rest of this column based on that, now’s your chance.
With that being said, I also care and have a passion for AMA road racing. You don’t do this job for as long as I’ve been doing it without it. But of late, that passion has waned. Going to the races just hasn’t been the same. Instead of the focus being on the races themselves (which are quite good, really), the focus seemed to have shifted in recent years to the incessant whining and misery from the riders, the teams, and whatever fans were left. It almost made me not care.
So what went wrong? For starters, the economy went bad. And the 2008 takeover of the sport by the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) wasn’t what people were expecting. They got off to a bad start and never really recovered. With visions of sponsors lined up at the door and dollars falling out of the sky, most of us were left with glum faces. Racers were disappointed, many were out of work, a lot of sponsors bailed, and some of the manufacturers were out of the game completely. Some of the racetracks joined them, TV ended up going away completely… and there was a constant feeling of us vs. them within the paddock. For the want of a better word, it pretty much sucked.
To read more of Carruthers Says in this week’s Cycle News, click here