Sep 13, 2001
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FIRST PERSON/OPINION:<BR><BR>By John Ulrich<BR><BR>AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth has mounted a slippery slope with recent press releases issued by the organization, one of which refers to "the questionable appropriateness of holding the event" in reference to the postponement and ultimate cancellation of this weekend's scheduled AMA National at Willow Springs.<BR><BR>In the first place, if "appropriateness" was the real issue, the AMA hillclimbs going on as planned (according to AMA press releases) in Pennsylvania and Indiana this weekend would also have been postponed, revealing this latest AMA press release as just more BS and spin from AMA Pro Racing.<BR><BR>In the second place, even bringing up the subject of "appropriateness" sets up motorcycle racing for huge problems in the future, and buys into the argument--often advanced by motorsports writers who have even less true racing experience than Hollingsworth--that race events should be cancelled immediately and everyone sent home any time anyone is seriously hurt (or worse).<BR><BR>Hollingsworth should have referred to "insurmountable travel problems" and left it at that.<BR><BR>The same release contains a line about the race being cancelled by race promoters "despite the best efforts by AMA Pro Racing, racing teams and key television partners"? Which "racing teams"? The guys who routinely criss-cross the country in 50 hours of driving time or less chasing after purse and contingency money? That's a drive I've done with co-drivers many times, including 44 hours straight from LA to Daytona, 39 from Savannah to LA, 35 from LA to Indy, 53 from LA to Pocono.<BR><BR>Last week it took Chris Ulrich (driving alone) 37 hours over a three-day period (16 hours the first day, 17 hours the second day, 4 hours the third day) to get from Huntsville, Alabama to Lake Elsinore, California. It's a drive Chris has done solo in 40 driving hours or less over three days, six times this year alone.<BR><BR>Driving Chris' truck and trailer, David Swarts drove solo from VIR to Lake Elsinore in 50 driving hours over three days, June 29-July 1.<BR><BR>There were several race teams at Willow Springs yesterday, including World Sports/Corbin Yamaha from San Francisco, GP Tech from Florida, AMS Ducati from Texas, Valvoline EMGO Suzuki from Alabama. Nobody consulted them, nobody asked if it was too hard to get from Willow Springs to VIR, or from VIR to Willow Springs in one week.<BR><BR>So instead of refering to "best efforts by AMA Pro Racing, racing teams and key television partners," what the AMA Pro Racing release should have said to be truthful was, "we talked to the usual Factory Few and eliminated the weekends before and after VIR because it was inconvenient for them, and too bad for everyody else." <BR><BR>Another recent press release issued by AMA Pro Racing revealed that a motocross Championship was won when one rider pulled over and let another pass. That may be true--but stating it as fact in an official AMA press release puts the sanctioning body in the position of publicizing and seemingly signing-off on a practice which could be said to be illegal under a strict interpretation of the rules banning any actions which "fix" races.<BR><BR>In both cases, it is clear that the potential ramifications of the press release language were not well-thought-out by anybody with any significant racing experience.<BR><BR>What a surprise...