Former AMA Superbike racer Steve McLaughlin suffered a heart attack at his home in Germany and is scheduled for open-heart surgery on Thursday, July 17.
McLaughlin, who is promoting his first AMA Grand National Championship round at the Sacramento Mile on July 26, won’t be able to attend his race. Well-known former race promoter Chris Agajanian will fill in for McLaughlin as the director of the event.
“It’s something you never expect to happen,” McLaughlin said from his hospital room in Germany. “I was looking forward to coming to California this week and overseeing the race, but my doctors tell me I won’t be up to traveling for a month or so after this surgery. I’m going to miss getting to see all the SMI staff, the Cal Expo staff I’ve worked so closely with and of course the fans and riders who are going to make this year’s Sacramento Mile a huge success.
“I’m grateful to Chris for stepping up to come in at the last minute and serving as director of the event. He is the first one I thought of when I realized I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my duties in person, but I wasn’t sure he’d agree to it or not. I was relieved when he told me he’d be happy to help.”
Agajanian is a veteran racing promoter who grew up learning race promotions under his legendary father, Motorcycle Hall of Famer J.C. Agajanian.
“I thought I’d escaped this madness,” Agajanian joked when he was asked by McLaughlin to direct the event. “But in all seriousness, I’m happy to come in and help Steve. He’s been a friend for years and that’s what we do in the motorcycle racing fraternity – we come together and make things work when a colleague has a time of need. Steve has assembled a great team to promote this event. I’ve worked with many of the staff before and it looks like things are going to be pretty seamless. I think Steve just wanted someone there who’d been through it all before and could answer questions should they come up and I’m happy to do whatever I can to help this be a successful event. We all wish Steve a speedy recovery.”