Jul 23, 2002
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Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>A lack of Thursday practice prior to this weekend's AMA Pro National at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the inclusion of a qualifying round for the World GSX-R Cup drew a contingent of AMA Pro-licensed riders to the AMA Grand National Championships held Monday and Tuesday at the Lexington, Ohio racetrack.<BR><BR>Participating Pro riders include Rich Conicelli, who has been in the top 10 in AMA Superbike points this year, as well as Jason DiSalvo, who won the AMA Superstock National at Road America in June.<BR><BR>The appearance of Pro-licensed racers has reignited the debate over who should be allowed to participate in an "Amateur" event, and never mind that manufacturer contingency money has been posted for the races.<BR><BR>Complicating matters is the fact that AMA Pro Racing Director of Competition Merrill Vanderslice has in the past suggested that Thursday practice is not important and that riders can participate in club races prior to AMA Nationals if they need more set-up and practice time than that afforded in official AMA practice starting on Friday of a race weekend. Now, when AMA Pro riders have shown up at a club race as suggested by Vanderslice, AMA Amateur officials have discouraged their participation and in at least one case went so far as to briefly suggest that they might be disqualified if they insisted on racing.<BR><BR>At least one rider has pointed out that the AMA Pro riders are AMA members, are legal entrants and have complied with all published rules.