You don't have to look much farther than Jamie Hacking to see just how sorry the state of AMA road racing has become. Instead of anxiously looking forward to trying to win a fourth AMA title, one of the series' biggest stars has spent the majority of his off-season decorating a nursery for the expected arrival of his and his wife Rachel's first child on March 25."I've been working on this baby room," Hacking said this morning from his home in North Carolina. "I've got nothing. It's pretty bad, pretty sad. For the 11 years that I've been in it, I've never seen it decline as much as it did."Hacking officially lost his ride with the Monster Kawasaki team when Kawasaki announced it was pulling the plug in mid-December, but it didn't catch him off-guard."We knew that was happening," Hacking said. "Obviously, we knew it before it was published. They told us that they weren't going to go racing. They kept us informed of what was going on at Kawasaki and this and that. They didn't see themselves doing anything, but they wanted to call and make sure that we didn't feel left out and that nothing was going on behind our backs. It wasn't a shock to us."Hacking saw the writing on the wall at the end of the season and started talks with different teams in the paddock, but nothing came of it."I talked to some people before the end of the season that were interested in doing some things for next year, but a lot of things have happened since then," he said. "People were waiting on sponsorship and with the series taking a big fall like it's done... people didn't know the TV was going to be there, people can't get big sponsors, then the tracks were thinning down. Everybody got scared away. I definitely talked to some people, but talking's different than signing papers. I think there are a lot of people out there who say they've got this and got that and I think it's all BS really. Until you see something in front of you to sign, nobody's got nothing."A baby on the way and no job on the horizon can bring a lot of stress, but Hacking has a handle on that."Me and Rachel told ourselves that obviously it's stressful and people don't have jobs," he said. "It's not just me, but there are a lot of good people out there - mechanics, everybody. People who deserve to have jobs, don't have jobs. We looked at ourselves and we have the added stress of the new baby coming, but what's the point of us stressing out? Why should we sit here and stress out when there's nothing we can do? I can look around at my house and see everything that I've gotten because of racing and I can't complain - that's for damn sure. If things came to an end today, I'd have to look at it fulfilling my time doing something else. But I won't have to go out on the street and start sweeping up people's trash."But this isn't the way Hacking wants his career to come to a close. You don't win three AMA titles (two in Supersport, one in Superstock), win Superbike races, work your way to being a factory star, and then have it just end like this."I don't want to leave this sport this way," Hacking said. "I want to leave the sport with some good memories and some old time racing that we all used to enjoy. Maybe a few more wins. I'm kind of winless here for the past few years and I'd like to go out winning and having a good time and then maybe announce my retirement and retire like a real racer should. Not get pushed to the side like this."There's always hope that a ride will come along, but it's slim pickings right now and Hacking knows it."You would think I would be at the top of the list, but if people don't have any money they think, ‘We can't even approach him.' They have the respect of, ‘Hey, this guy's a multi-time champion, we can't go to him with this. This will be an insult.' Then they go to somebody who they can afford, but they really don't want. I'm open to all options, anybody's offers, but I'm not going to go out there and ride for nothing. There are a lot of guys who will ride for nothing. Let's look at it... that's not going to pay the bills. We're here to put on a race and show the fans what we can do, but at the end of the day we all need to pay our bills and racing for free doesn't pay the bills. For me to put my life on the line and put on a good show for free... it's not worth it."Hacking feels fortunate that he came along when he did... racing in what now looks like the glory days of AMA Superbike racing."I would hate to be in these kids shoes right now, I really would," he said. "That's what I tried to tell some of these guys this year... guys were fighting everything I was trying to go against. I tried to tell these guys that these DMG rules were not going to work. You can't go racing like that. But I don't have to worry about it like they do. I can tell you right now that Ben Spies will be the last guy... I can't see anything for the next 10 years - anybody even remotely making the jump over there [to World Superbike/MotoGP]. There's no way. They can't. Nobody is looking here at ‘em. It's bad."As for the immediate future, Hacking says, "I can get ready in no time, but I've just been enjoying myself really. I'll ride it on out and see what comes down the pipeline."And there's always prepping for the baby."We spent a lot of time decorating this nursery up and we've done a good job with it. I'm pretty proud of it actually."

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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