Dec 21, 2001
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Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Title this Rich Oliver's not-so-excellent adventure talking to AMA Pro Racing VP John Ferris. According to Oliver, in the discussion, Ferris revealed that:<BR><BR>--Fan surveys of last couple of seasons ranked 250cc Grand Prix second-to-last in fan appeal, just ahead of Pro Thunder<BR><BR>--AMA doesn't want there to be Thursday practice and doesn't want to send staffers in on Wednesday to set up the track due to "budget issues" and the chance that Air Fence* could be damaged (and never mind that it could be saving the same riders on which the AMA show depends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and never mind that this was apparently not an issue when AMA Air Fence was deployed two days before the 2001 WERA GNF at Road Atlanta to accomodate a private riding school).<BR><BR>--250cc Grand Prix is on the way out because manufacturers don't want to import the bikes or support the class, but there will be a definite two-year grace period after the decision is made to eliminate the class, during which it will continue to run. <BR><BR>--The 250cc class is a haven for older riders who have found a late-career niche (and never mind guys who have come up or are coming up in the class, such as Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Kurtis Roberts. Chris Ulrich, Michael Hannas, Jason DiSalvo, Cory West, etc.)<BR><BR>--The best training classes for up-and-coming riders are, in order, Formula Xtreme, 750cc Supersport and 600cc Supersport. And Formula Xtreme has the extra benefit that the bikes are inexpensive to build (and never mind the issue of training young guns on 180-horsepower bikes that eat tires, or the expense of all those tires and the required-to-be-competitive Ohlins forks, Brembo radial brakes and racing swingarms).<BR><BR>--Sponsoring the 250cc class in the future will cost a prospective sponsor "less than $50,000" (no hard figure given) while current sponsor MBNA paid AMA "between $50,000 and $75,000" to promote MBNA credit cards; AMA assigned the class to MBNA because it was available, with most of the money used for things other than the class and its point fund.<BR><BR>(We're not sure we're happier knowing the level of racing expertise at the highest levels of AMA Pro Racing, as demonstrated here!)<BR><BR>*Trademark of Airfence Safety Systems