Dec 8, 2001
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Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>AMA 250cc Grand Prix Champion Jimmy Filice was named the AMA Professional Sportsman of the Year during the 27th Annual AMA Pro Racing Champion Awards Banquet, held Friday night in Palm Desert, California.<BR><BR>Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael was named AMA/Speedvision Professional Athlete of the Year and his mechanic, Chad Watts, was given an Award of Mechanical Excellence.<BR><BR>Larry Griffis, who earlier this year retired from his position running Yamaha's professional racing programs, was given a special award recognizing his long involvement in AMA racing.<BR><BR>Road racing riders and tuners honored at the event included Pro Thunder Champion Tom Montano and tuners Mat Prentiss and Nick Hayman; Filice and tuners Ed Toomey and Mike Montoya (Montoya could not attend); Formula Xtreme Champion John Hopkins and tuner Barry McMahan (McMahan, testing in Homestead with rider Josh Hayes, could not attend); 750cc Supersport Champion Jimmy Moore and tuner Carry Andrew; 600cc Supersport Champion Eric Bostrom and tuner Joey Lombardo; and Superbike Champion Mat Mladin and his crew consisting of Crew Chief Peter Doyle, chassis tuner Reg O'Rourke and engine builder Yuki Kikuchi.<BR><BR>Class sponsors presented plaques and number plates to the Champions, and when Honda's Charlie Keller presented the goods to former Team Honda and current Team Kawasaki members Bostrom and Lombardo, he asked new AMA Road Racing Operations Manager--and former Honda Team Manager--Gary Mathers, "If these guys are so good, why did we let them get away?" Mathers, who was on stage during the presentation and who was responsible for Bostrom and Lombardo being cut from Team Honda after the 1999 season, did not reply.<BR><BR>Prior to the ceremony, AMA Road Racing Manager Ron Barrick revealed that Pro Thunder races will not run at AMA Superbike double-headers in 2002, except at Road America, but would not reveal where the other Pro Thunder races would be held and said that it depended upon a proposal now being considered by class sponsor Buell. During the 2001 season, four Pro Thunder rounds were held at WERA National Challenge Series events, but earlier this week WERA President Evelyne Clarke said that the organization had heard nothing concerning the 2002 season from AMA officials.<BR><BR>In other news from the banquet, AMA is close to announcing the opening and staffing of a West Coast office, in the Los Angeles area. And AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth said that a 2003 AMA Supercross schedule will be announced before Christmas, with events scheduled in "first class" stadiums from Los Angeles to New York, and that Supercross television programming will include "inventory" that individual teams and riders can sell to sponsors.<BR><BR>Hollingsworth also revealed that the U.S. Flat Track Championship will run a spec tire--Goodyear--in 2002.<BR><BR>Hollingsworth described the current Supercross battle between Clear Channel as being "probably inevitable" and joked that he was wearing a Kevlar jacket, describing the situation as creating "interesting times."<BR><BR>The ceremony was marked by repeated errors by co-emcee Larry Maiers, ranging from skipping over Hollingsworth's planned opening remarks--which Hollingsworth finally made after some awards had been presented--to mispronouncing the names of VIPs and award recipients in the audience, so badly mangling the names of two JamSports executives that Hollingsworth corrected him before making his remarks.<BR><BR>In another snafu, confirmation letters from AMA Pro Racing did not include the address or directions to the event, and stated that the banquet was being held "at the Desert Springs Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, California." The hotel is actually in nearby Palm Desert, and the bad information sent dozens of attendees on a wild goose chase in the wrong city, with a 30-minute delay in arrival being typical.<BR><BR>And the event program included an obsolete list of AMA Trustees and omitted the sponsorship thank-you statements and new photos collected from the honored Champions weeks ago.