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Feb 14, 2001

AMA Willow Superbike National Cancelled, Promoters Cite Cost And Problems Dealing With AMA Officials

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

12:00 p.m. EST

This just in:

Hansyllan Motorsports, promoter of the 2001 AMA National scheduled for September 14-16 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California, is cancelling the event.

Hansyllan Motorsports sources cited the the cost of promoting an AMA event and difficulties working with AMA officials as being behind the decision. Hansyllan took over promotion of the Willow Springs event when the racetrack declined to continue putting on the event itself.

Reached by phone moments before post time and asked to comment, AMA Road Race Manager Ron Barrick said, "Well, I haven't been informed by Hansyllan yet of any such decision."

Reached by phone and asked to comment on his company's decision to cancel the AMA National at Willow Springs, Hansyllan Motorsports' Steve Rethmeier said the decision was based on economics, the loss of event sponsor Coca-Cola and a lack of consideration and interest on the part of AMA Pro Racing's Scott Hollingsworth, Merrill Vanderslice and Barrick.

"We lost more than we thought we were going to lose on the race," said Rethmeier of the event his company promoted at Willow Springs in 2000. "Part of the problem is the facility itself. It has a capacity we figure of about 9500 to 10,000 in the bleachers and we need about 15,000 to 20,000 capacity for it to make sense to put the event on. There's so much to do in Southern California, and to let everyone know what's going on, it just costs so much to advertise. We're probably in one of the most expensive markets to promote an event in, yet we have a venue that doesn't have sufficient capacity to make it worthwhile to make the investment in the event. And our sponsors, primarily Coca-Cola, once they experienced the event, felt that it was not the type of event that justified their involvement at the level they were involved at.

"We would like to see an event occur in the L.A. area, so I called Barrick and told him that we were having some trouble financially with this event," continued Rethmeier, "and that we wanted to know if they could help us or subsidize the event, if they wanted to subsidize it. The best we could figure was that we could come close to breaking even on the event without some help. Barrick's response was ‘We really don't care that much about Willow Springs anyway, so whatever you guys want to do is fine.'

"I was surprised by that," Rethmeier continued. "Here's effectively a customer of the AMA calling up and saying, ‘We're not really interested in your product any longer.' and there was not any interest in that. If I was Barrick I would have worked a little harder to try to keep that customer. And we haven't heard anything from Hollingsworth.

"Barrick did counter with an offer for us to promote events in other parts of the country, but we're a little leery until we hear what they can do to help us. He offered up to three events, not counting Willow."

Rethmeier said that he had been given a deadline of February 16 to notify the AMA's Barrick of his decision regarding the race. "I haven't given him the official word that we are canceling," Rethmeier said, adding that one of his partners had contacted Willow Springs owner Bill Huth and asked if the track would like to "take on some of the promotion" of the race with Hansyllan managing some aspect of the event. Rethmeier said that he was awaiting an answer from Huth.

Rethmeier had harsh words for AMA Pro Racing management, citing problems scheduling the 2001 race. "I was contacted by (AMA Pro Racing CEO) Hollingsworth and (AMA Pro Racing Director Of Competition) Vanderslice and given the option of two dates, one in April and one in May. The May date was just within the 30-day blackout period that PACE had for any of the venues that they run at. I talked to Stephanie and Bill Huth and negotiated real hard for that May date, and I got it. Next thing I know Barrick calls me and says I guess we forgot to tell you, we gave that May date to Road America or Road Atlanta, I don't remember which. So Hollingsworth himself calls me and works me over on that date. We preferred a September date, but I agreed to do what I could to get the date, we got it, and then they didn't even have the courtesy to call us and tell us the date was given to somebody else. They scheduled us in the middle of September, when I think it's too hot and would have preferred a date later in September or early in October.

"Then just the lack of contact from Hollingsworth," continued Rethmeier. "Barrick told us Hollingsworth had an idea to try to help us with sponsorship dollars in return for guaranteed signage placement, he was gonna contact me in October or November, but he never called me.

"It was more of a lack of attention, a sense that they're operating on their own plane, we're trying to make them happy and it doesn't seem to matter. We're technically the customer, we're paying the money, and I don't feel we're getting the same consideration we give our own customers.

"If they want to approach us to promote other venues, we'll listen to what they have to say. It's just that we have other business interests where we actually make money, so we need to focus on that," concluded Rethmeier.