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Jun 4, 2014

Editorial: Critical Questions Left Unanswered About AMA Pro Racing’s Decisions At Road America

The expressions on the faces of David Anthony (left), Josh Hayes (center) and Roger Hayden (right) show how they felt AMA Pro Racing handled Superbike Race Two at Road America. They backed up their expressions by telling all present how they felt about the situation, but most fans didn't get to see it because the live webcast on was cut off once the riders started speaking negatively about AMA Pro Racing. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.


By David Swarts

There is no doubt that AMA Pro Racing officials and riders were presented with tough situations to deal with thanks to the weather conditions Sunday, June 1 at Road America, but in my opinion officials made several bad calls on the day leaving riders angry and questioning their faith in the sanctioning body’s ability to look after their well being. And those same negative sentiments are ringing throughout the motorcycle industry and the fan community this week. made several attempts to speak to AMA Pro Road Racing officials Sunday evening at Road America. First, I asked Communications Coordinator Andrew Swain and brand-new Manager of Communications Patrick Buganski if AMA Pro Road Racing Director of Competition David McGrath would make himself available to the media so we could ask questions about the day. I confirmed that other reporters also wanted to speak to McGrath, and Swain and Buganski said they would try to make it happen.

After several minutes passed, I followed up with Swain and Buganski about the status of any Q&A time with McGrath, and they said they hadn’t heard back. “Maybe you should call Gene Crouch,” said Swain.

Before I could reach out to AMA Pro Racing Director of Communications and Technical Operations Crouch Sunday evening at Road America he appeared in the media center, out of breath and wet from sweat and rain accumulated while tearing down the system he developed from scratch.

Crouch said he would try to get McGrath to talk to the media but offered to try to answer questions.

I asked: “Why was the Superbike race (Two) not stopped when the downpour hit and officials knew most of the field were on slicks?”

Crouch answered: “The race was stopped for a downed rider, a downed bike in between Turns 11 and 12, and the bike was in the middle of the track. And that was deemed to be unsafe. The race was stopped at that point.

“As far as the restart, the restart was declared a wet restart. The riders made their tire choices.”

I asked again: “And when the downpour of rain came and knowing the riders (all but one) were on slicks and it was an unsafe situation, why was the race not stopped at that point?”

Crouch repeated his answer, saying: “The race was stopped when there was a bike down in between Turns 11 and 12.

“The race was declared wet.”

Then Crouch walked away and left the room.

McGrath never made himself available before I left the track at 9:00 p.m. local time Sunday night, and now over 48 hours later I have yet to receive a phone call or email from anyone at AMA Pro Racing offering to answer the questions on my mind -- the same questions voiced by Josh Hayes, David Anthony and Roger Hayden and other riders after Sunday’s races.

So in light of their refusal to answer any more of’s questions regarding the events Sunday at Road America, I thought I would share with the public the questions I – and others -- want to ask McGrath and AMA Pro Racing, questions that should be answered because rider safety was definitely compromised by the decisions made, in my opinion.

And my opinion comes from my 25 years involved in racing first as a fan, then a cornerworker, then a racer, then a reporter for 17 years. Along the way I’ve also held positions as a race official, track day/school worker and public address announcer. And I’ve accumulated a lot of experience, information and alternate viewpoints to draw from over that time.

Question: In the second segment of SuperSport Race Two on Sunday Corey Alexander slowed his pace halfway through lap three due to what he later said was rain falling. Then on lap four a total of six riders (according to Swain relaying information from Race Control) crashed in rapid succession in Turn Three due to rain. Were any rain flags displayed prior to these crashes in Turn Three?

Question: On lap 10 of the 12-lap Daytona SportBike Race Two on Sunday, race leader Jake Gagne began waving his hand to signal for the race to be stopped due to rain. He continued waving his left hand at video cameras at several points of the track. Then JD Beach and Dane Westby simultaneously waved to race officials at the start/finish line as they completed lap 11/began lap 12 of 12. Did AMA Pro Racing officials see these hand signals from the riders?

Question: If so, and considering the many times David McGrath informed riders at rider’s meetings over the last few seasons “You guys are the eyes on the track, so please communicate with me and we’ll go from there.” (Barber Motorsports Park, 2013), why did AMA Pro officials not heed the riders’ communication and opinions and stop the race?

Question: In Superbike Race Two on Sunday, the race was stopped on lap eight of 13 due to light rain, according to Swain, but I did not see race leader Josh Hayes ask for the race to be stopped with a hand signal. What was the cause of that race being stopped when it was originally stopped?

Question: During the ensuing down time in Superbike Race Two, the rain stopped and the track dried almost completely. Was AMA Pro Racing bound by any rule or policy to declare the restart “wet?” Or in other words, could the race have been restarted and declared “dry?”

Question: Can you please explain why the restart of Superbike Race Two was declared “wet” and how that determination was made?

Question: On the restart of Superbike Race Two, my information from Dunlop is that all riders minus one restarted the race on slicks. Was AMA Pro Racing aware of the tire choices of the riders for the “wet” restart?

Question: Assuming AMA Pro Racing knew its riders were on slicks and knowing that there is no rule prohibiting a wet race from being stopped due to it raining more (2014 AMA Pro Road Racing Rulebook Section 2.21.b Wet Start Events), why was the race allowed to continue when the heavy rain started on lap five of the seven-lap restart?

Question: What was the goal of continuing Superbike Race Two with the riders on slicks and heavy rain falling?

Question: What is AMA Pro Racing’s reaction to the top three finishers in Superbike Race Two at Road America using the indoor podium ceremony and post-race press conference to express their disappointment in how the race was handled?

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