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Dec 28, 2000

Lack Of Advance Notice of AMA Rule Change Costs Racers $3000 Each

AMA officials recently issued a Competition Bulletin revealing that they were going to restrict Ducati 748s to 750cc for the 2001, instead of the 800cc allowed in previous years. Jeff Nash won the 2000 AMA Pro Thunder Championship on a Ducati 748 and runs Advanced Motorsports, a shop specializing in high-performance Ducati parts and work. You would think that AMA officials would have consulted Nash before making a rule change like this, right? Wrong. Nash learned of the rule change through a AMA Pro Racing Competition Bulletin in early December, just like everyone else. The trouble is, Nash first heard of the rule change after he had built four new 800cc motors for customers who planned on racing Ducatis in the 2001 AMA Pro Thunder Series.

"For them to make a rule change without consulting anybody is typical AMA," Nash said in a phone interview from his shop on December 27. "I understand that they are trying to make the class equal (for the Buells) and all of that. Whatever we need to do to make the series more interesting, I'm all for it. I think the Pro Thunder class is one of the only classes where a privateer can go ride the AMA. It's popular, a fun class to ride, and it's competitive. But you have to wonder where their thoughts really lay for the future."

Although he is going to work with his future competitors, Nash's 800cc customers are facing $3000 worth of parts and labor to get back to 748cc. "We never really found any advantage with going to 800cc in the new motor," Nash said. "My bike was a 748. Craig's (Connell) bike was a 748, and he had no trouble whooping everyone. That's basically because of the new motor and its 'shower-type injectors.' I suggested to the AMA that they add a clause to the new rule allowing 1999 and older models be 800cc. The new 748 engine will make as much power as an old-style, 800cc motor. I know more than a couple of guys who have bought used 800cc bikes to get into the class that are now going to require more money and still put them at a disadvantage power-wise from the start."

Nash called members of the AMA Pro Racing Board of Directors to discuss his suggestions and complain about the late notice of the rule changes, and said he reached one board member who wasn't even aware that the Pro Thunder class had been dropped from the three Superbike doubleheader rounds, another late-announcement move reducing the Pro Thunder series to eight races. "I doubt very much of anything I've said will be taken to heart or anything done about it," Nash said. "I don't think they are interested, and no matter which point of view you take, they really don't care."

Nash suggested that in the future AMA officials should have meetings concerning future rule changes, and allow affected riders to comment well in advance of the rule taking effect.