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Apr 1, 2002

Privateers Answer The Question: Thursday Practice Versus Club Race Weekends At AMA Tracks, Which Costs More?

<BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Despite AMA Pro Racing's insistence that, in addition to needing Thursdays to set up their infrastructure and equipment, not having Thursday practice days will save competitors money, AMA regulars attending the FasTrack Association (FTA) track day/race event at California Speedway March 31 said otherwise. Roadracingworld.com asked several of the privateer AMA regulars at the new Fontana, California venue Sunday, March 31 if it cost them more money to come to an AMA track a day early for Thursday practice or to come to a club race at an AMA venue prior to the National event.<BR><BR>"It costs a lot more to come to a club day versus a Thursday practice day," said 250cc Grand Prix racer Chris Pyles. "From this weekend, the entry fees for two practice days - I mean you got a lot of (track) time - but it's double the cost. But then you're taking off an extra week of work to come out here, whereas coming to a Thursday practice, you're only have to take off an extra day. I'd say it costs more money to do a practice day versus a Thursday practice day."<BR><BR>"I would say it probably cost us $10,000 to come this weekend. It would have cost us another $500-600 to come to a Thursday practice," stated Annandale Racing's Ty Howard, a Supersport and Superstock competitor. "We have to fly out here and fly back tonight (Sunday) to get back to work. Then we have four or five days of food and lodging, just all the added expenses of coming an extra weekend versus coming a day early to practice. <BR><BR>"For some of the people that can't make the club races and have never been to this track and have to come ride on Friday, they get two practice sessions to learn the track, in the 750 (Superstock) class before qualifying. If I had to come here and not get this weekend as practice, I wouldn't even make the field. It's a safety issue with people coming in and not knowing the track. Every corner on this track has to flow together perfect, and it's very hard to learn. It just doesn't make any sense not to have a Thursday practice."<BR><BR>"I would rather go to a Thursday practice," said Marietta Motorsports Chris "Opie" Caylor, a Superstock racer. "The fact is, we showed up to a new track. I needed the time here because I want to do really well. It forced me to have to come out a week early. Between the extra hotel fees and the extra food fees, yeah, I would rather have a Thursday practice big time compared to having to come to a club day. I think it makes a lot more sense to have a Thursday practice.<BR><BR>"We ended up having to leave Wednesday (March 27) to get out here in time to be able to ride Friday (March 29). So yeah, I ended up having to take almost an extra week off (from work). On top of that, my mechanic had to take off work himself to be able to come out and to help me during the club days. If it were a Thursday through Sunday deal, I think it would be a lot more effective, a lot less costly and, like I said, it just makes a lot more sense."<BR><BR>"Actually, it costs you more when you figure your extra travel costs in," says Team America Grand Prix Racing owner Jim DiSalvo, father of 250 GP and Superstock racer Jason DiSalvo. After two years of learning new tracks while racing in Europe, DiSalvo knows the need for extra track time. "It would be nice to just have the track day the day before. That's the optimum as far as we're concerned. Practice days in the European and Spanish Championships, they always have a practice day before the race weekend event, whether it's a promoter's practice day or a school practice day. Generally speaking, you get on the track on Thursday, then you have your normal practice day on Friday. Without that extra day, you can't get your bike set up if you haven't been to the track before. And without this weekend here, we would not be ready for the AMA race next weekend. <BR><BR>"Overall, it's like going to another race. Instead of us having 10 races this year, we have 17 because on seven other weekends we're going to be at a track (for extra practice). It's just like adding seven races to the schedule. It's a big cost. Coming in on Thursdays would probably save 20% of the (annual) budget easily, probably $120,000."<BR><BR><BR>