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Editorial: Chicanery

When racing just isn't fun anymore

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By: Henny Ray Abrams
Article Comments MORE IN EDITORIALS >> Fun Or Funereal?

To catalog the multitude of transgressions perpetrated by the new AMA Pro Racing on the road-race paddock would be futile. The list is long and varied and constantly growing. But if there's one thing they've done that's inexcusable, other than laying waste to their own credibility, it's that they've taken the fun out of racing.

Very few people get rich racing motorcycles. The hours are brutal, the physical demands are demanding, the return on investment is minimal. People race motorcycles, people work on racing motorcycles, people support motorcycle racing, because it's their passion, because they love it, because it's fun. But if Daytona didn't convince you, the evidence was stark at Fontana - this just isn't fun anymore.

The atmosphere in the AMA road-race paddock is funereal. The central topic of conversation isn't racing, but what's wrong with racing and how much worse it's going to get. Because, make no mistake, it continues to get worse.

That part of the Fontana weekend not spent recounting the AMA's innumerable sins from Daytona - did you know that race control didn't authorize the red flag that caused the debacle during the 200, but that it was a rogue element in the chicane? - was spent lamenting the current situation and the future.

On Saturday afternoon, AMA PR made the decision to move the SuperSport race from Sunday, when it was expected to rain, to Saturday. Had they said it was because of rain, that would have been an admission that they didn't want young riders racing on a track that's barely tolerable in the dry to one that's lethal in the wet. So instead, AMA PR issued a press release in which AMA Pro president Roger Edmondson was quoted as saying, "The only class that does not have provisions for rain tires this weekend is AMA Pro SuperSport, presented by Shoei, so the decision was made to run their feature at the end of today's schedule."

Completely false. Not a shred of truth to it. Dunlop, the control-tire supplier, had a truck full of rain tires for all classes and at least 200 for SuperSport. That should have been enough, since each rider gets two wet fronts and two wet rears. Did I mention there were only seven riders in the SuperSport race? Given the size of the field, they could have held eight wet SuperSport races before the supply became an issue.

Was Edmondson ill-served by a minion who provided him with bad information? We don't know. But if there was any question, it would have been prudent to ask the question before throwing one of his partners under the tire truck. And if AMA PR is willing to treat a company that's paying a substantial sum of money like that, what hope is there for the rest of the paddock?

At the end of the weekend, Monster Attack Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking reportedly dropped a few f-bombs while making a less-than-graceful exit from the press room. For that, and for his behavior at the postrace news conference, he was suspended indefinitely. Press rooms aren't for the faint of heart, and the atmosphere would be monastic if cursing was prohibited. Hacking will miss the next round of the series at Road Atlanta, which will almost certainly guarantee that a Buell will be leading the championship. If you can't beat 'em, ban 'em. It isn't enough that they've designed a class where one machine is twice as large as the rest, has the greatest list of special allowances, and can weigh the same as the twins? Now they have to put the toughest competition, a multiple-time champion, in the docket.

Now Kawasaki has a decision to make. With Roger Lee Hayden out, is there any reason for them to drive cross country to the next round at Road Atlanta with just Leandro Mercado confirmed? Of course not. So the fans at Road Atlanta are punished by AMA PR and are denied the chance to see a successful son of the South, one less of a dwindling galaxy of stars.

Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Mat Mladin and four others were put on probation for missing a mandatory autograph session. The next time may mean a suspension. Knowing Mladin, he may make himself the test case. And why not?

What have they given to the teams or riders that helps them do their jobs? Nothing. Why should Mladin or anyone else be obligated to have to be somewhere? This is a one-way street, with money flowing south. Until they start treating the paddock like partners and not serfs, they don't deserve the respect of the riders. Had they come in amicably and offered to work together, the paddock would have responded. Instead, it's all about 'you're going to do this, you're going to do that, you're not going to do this, you're not going to do that. What? You don't like it? Tough s--t. There's the door and leave.'

Who would benefit from Mladin's absence? Definitely not the fans, who wouldn't get to see the greatest racer in the history of American Superbike racing.

One team owner predicted: "Suzuki will try and make Mat do the right thing so it doesn't look bad in the eyes of the public. They're not doing anything for us but taking and making our jobs more difficult to do. And not paving a good road to go to the future. I don't see them improving anything in the future. They're not helping us; why should we help them?"

The promoters, as much as anyone, deserve better. They're trying to sell a damaged commodity in a dismal economy with far too many restrictions. For instance, tracks are only allowed to give out trophies to the race winner. Second and third place get medals - the winner does also. Tommy Hayden's medal fell off its ribbon on Sunday. One winner leaned over to another and said, "I used to get these in WERA."

It's one more example of the monomaniacal compulsion to change every single aspect of motorcycle racing, to take something that's unique and mold it into the shape of some other series for no good reason. The pace car - in Fontana, it was a lumbering four-door that clearly wasn't made to go around corners - should be banned. What happened when the pace car came out for the mandatory three laps in Sunday's SportBike race? The fans were treated to three less laps of racing.

The rules from now on are, there are no rules. If you screw up, we'll tell you, but we won't tell you in advance. Will we race in the rain? Don't know. We'll get back to you. Racing in the rain at Fontana is insane. The daffy curbing that makes up the chicane in turn one is lethal. Hit it in the dry and you might lose your front end. In the wet, you will crash and you will hit a wall. And that simply isn't fun.
 

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I'm sad, sniff, sniff

:( So do I make the long haul to an AMA race? Do I pull a Chavez and boycott? Do I get a nice T-Shirt, ya know the circle slash with DMG in it?

I'm assuming the lack of flat track in my area this year is a combination of the poor showing last year, weather sucked, the economy or does DMG know where I live.

How far is Miller? Maybe next year for WSBK.
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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"Who would benefit from Mladin's absence?"

Me! He can f*cking walk any time he likes. He's the one that ruined AMA racing long ago. He was scared to move to the big leagues, so he stayed in Little League to become the best Little League racer in history. Big deal. Go away Mat. You personally made each race suck. I might show up to a race after he leaves. DMG has the right ideas. They want close racing with different brands and not watching the same guy lap the field and have the red flag thrown every time he falls down. They just need to clean out Mat and get things moving forward. I watched the Fontana race and it was as boring on TV as it was in person I bet. Only by the looks of the stands there weren't all that many to be bored.

"Suzuki will try and make Mat do the right thing so it doesn't look bad in the eyes of the public"

Good luck on making the biggest a$$hat in racing not look like what he is.

"Instead, it's all about 'you're going to do this, you're going to do that, you're not going to do this, you're not going to do that. What? You don't like it? Tough s--t. There's the door and leave."

Good strategy. Mat will probably leave......which is the whole point of it. Get him out and get the other guys accessable and maybe you have something. All they have now is a big a$$clown as their featured attraction.
 

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Dammit stop making good arguments! It wasn't that long ago I was decrying the what is it 40+ continous wins for Suzuki. This is the fruits of action without thought, a specialty of mine. I shall consider recanting:rolleyes:

Change is hard
 

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The AMA has been goofing things up ever since Russ March was in charge. They have their sticky little fingers in everthing. A few of you out there are old enough to remember the Edison Dye/AMA fiascos like the St. Loius MX, the second Stuporbowl of MX or Carlsbad 1974.

If you want to race MX at podunk center on a track with one jump and three corners, guess who you have to pay to enter? Yes, the AMA. I went to Perris to race a vintage event, not an AMA member? Well then pay your entry fee AND the AMA join fee AND another AMA fee. I didn't even get an AMA hat that time, or a sticker for the rear window on my truck!

I imagine the AMA is scouting out the big vacant lot on Empire street here in Burbank where some kids have set up a BMX/Mini-bike course.

The nice thing about the Adelanto GP was the Vipers said "ENOUGH" to the AMA and green stickers. Told the AMA to pack it, this is a private track.
 

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Not like Henny Ray doesn't have an axe to grind.

That being said, it looks like DMG os tearing everything down to rebuild in their own perfect image.

I believe that Edmonson would like nothing more than to see Mladin to retire. Equal racers on equal machinery. What's not to love?

Thankfully, DMG/AMA have largely left SX and MX alone. Except for the Saturday MX thing. WTF? We'll see how that works.

I have the answer for road racing. 3 classes.

Superbike: 1000CC 4s and 1200cc twins, just about anything goes.

Supersport: Amost box stock 600 4s/750 2s/675 3s, spec tires, and automatic graduation of 2d and 1st place to Superbike.

450: Entry level 450 single class based on box stock 450 MX/Enduro engines and frames. I can't believe this concept has been completely ignored at the pro level.

What I don't have, is an answer for "Daytona Superbike", or any other class to race 200 miles at that hideous track. I have ridden laps there, and it takes more cajones than I have to push it on the banks.

Isn't it time we stopped basing the entire road racing year on one lousy race? Eliminate Daytona from the official schedule. Let it stand on its own. Post a seperate purse. See who shows up.

It used to make a rider's year just to ride at Daytona. What happened?
 

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Well, in theory I actually like what DMG is doing overall. However, their execution leaves a bit to be desired.

Mladin should just shut up. He gets paid lots and lots of money to race here. Does he really think that anyone notices the two-second-slower laps? I certainly can't tell by watching on TV. Let's see some close racing. He seems to think that people (however many there actually are) watch only because of him. Quite the contrary.

However, the Daytona Sportbike rules are certainly ridiculous. The telling thing is that Shawn Higbee is now running an 1125R in Superbike--and I've read that it's the same bike that runs in DS. It's really stupid.
 

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Just copy the WSB rule book

"If you can't beat 'em, ban 'em. It isn't enough that they've designed a class where one machine is twice as large as the rest, has the greatest list of special allowances, and can weigh the same as the twins? Now they have to put the toughest competition, a multiple-time champion, in the docket." WOW
this guy must have been channeling me. There is a simple solution to fix this DMG fiasco . Move to WSB rules now don't wait till next year.

Mladin reminds me of myself i.e. I like him. just kidding. Every series needs a bad guy an overdog
 

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The Toad
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Boo hoo hoo. Boo hoo hoo. We want the races fixed again so that the Big4 can have their guaranteed championships each year again. Boo hoo hoo.
 

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I think I feel very strongly about this but have proven that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. Where's the popcorn? This could prove to be the best soap opera to watch.

The only reason DMG is there is because they believe they can make money. The only way to make money is to increase the fan base aka advertising revenue.

If someone doesn't like the way it's being done then maybe you not part of the demographic any more. And why should you be, "they" weren't making any money off of you. If they were the paradigm wouldn't have to change.

Babbling I know, just some random thoughts. Continue to bash each other please, from a distance it's entertaining. And in the end "... the truth is imutable." Someone check your Nietche (sp) for relavance and context.

There's always an other league/sanctioning body. We've all seen that thru the history of motorsports and how succesfull that has been.
 

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Well at least I caught AMA Primetime during primetime on sat night this week. We'll see if I go to Infineon this May, but cant wait for WSB at Miller, the WSS guys are supposed to be tagging along this year too without the AMA in the way.

The sportbike class (?) was interesting to watch the 1125 run off and hide from everyone. When I first heard about the rules I thought it would be the 1200 Buells not the 1125's. Why arent the Duc's running in that class then? There were the Mille's...
 

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DMG will suffer through growing pains for about two full seasons as they try to figure out what's working and what to trash. The American Superbike class in it's current form is pretty close to WSB SuperStock rules. They won't modify that much, because it seems to be working. Daytona will see adjustments. Now that the speedways are done we'll see how the Buell fairs. Seems like Danny has a handle on it, but if you look at the rest of the 1125s they're back there a little ways. I think DMG will add weight back to the bikes if Danny kicks everyone's butts at Barber, but the Aprilia and anyone on an 848 have their homework to do.
In the Sportbike class the point is to let the kids race. Most everyone are on 600s, but for those kids that want to live on the edge the bigger bikes in stock format may actually make the racing a bit of a toss up. It'd be fun watching some kid @ 16yo man-handle an Aprilia vs the point and shoot 600s.
 

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Are we talking about pro racing or just racing. I think there lots of problems with racing in general. The bigest is that they are hard to see and hard for a beginner to get into watching. Often you have X number of classes in a race and no one that isn't an expert really knows who is winning. It is the same for SCCA races for the most part. Also there are very few races around to go to and they get no PR.
I live in South Florida. Within a few hours drive We have Daytona, Sebring, Homestead, and Palm Beach international raceway. I have never seen an ad for a Motorcycle race. I would love to see a Circle track race but they I never know when they are. As the to the few motorcycle races I have seen on TV they are at best dull. The leaders tend to be way out in front and say there.
My feeling is that you need to get the ground roots racing going big time. I am lucky that I live where their are so many tracks. I would love to see a cheap Spec racer series started up. Suzuki or Kawasaki would be the perfect companies to do it. Suzuki could have a spec race series for the TU250, then the GSX500, the SV650s, And finish off with the GSXR600 or 750. Kawasaki is in even better shape and could call it the Ninja Series with the 250, 500, 650r, and the ZX6 at the top. You could get a lot of people racing with cheap 250s and then move up to the 650 twins that way. In south Florida you could have a race every month and the racers might never even need a hotel since it is only a few hours drive from track to track. Get people cheering for local racers and then they might start being into the big races and might even start to ride and race themselves. But that is just my opinion.
 
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