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Jul 18, 2013

Producer Says Lack Of Sponsor Support Is The Reason This Weekend's AMA Pro Races At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Won't Be Televised

Action from an AMA Pro road race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo by Brian J. Nelson/AMA Pro Racing.
As of Thursday evening the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Races being run at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend still won't be televised. The event was not part of the original AMA Pro TV deal and there’s not enough money to pay for the deal in place, let alone extra races.

That’s what John Mullin, producer of the AMA Pro Road Race broadcasts on CBS Sports Network, told Thursday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

“When Chet [Burks, President of Chet Burks Productions] was putting together the deal with both CBS and AMA [Pro Racing],” said Mullin, “originally our approach was to do seven events starting after Daytona. As the contracts were being negotiated, AMA had not yet determined they were going to run at this event. So their instruction to us collectively and Chet specifically was don’t include this because we don’t know if it’s going to be there. Chet was establishing a new relationship with CBS, and the last thing you want to do with a major network is go in and promise A and deliver B.

“What happened then, the contracts were signed, and the decision to put Laguna, what I call Laguna One, which is this weekend, was made. In the process of putting together this programming effort, the industry, honestly, has not supported it with their commercial finances as much as it collectively indicated it would when we first went into it.

“The end result is what it is you see on television now, which in my humble opinion beats everything that’s been on TV for the last six years, is being done at a deficit. None of us are in the business to lose money. So when [an eighth] event comes along you look at it and say, ‘You know, we’re losing money on everything else we’ve committed to do. How badly do you want to beat yourself up?’”

But Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO and General Manager Gill Campbell said she doesn’t understand what Mullin is saying. Campbell told that she made a verbal agreement with AMA Pro Racing boss David Atlas to host AMA Pro Racing on the 2013 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend; Campbell said she made that commitment on Sunday evening of last year’s U.S.G.P. weekend and added that the deal was “formalized” in October of 2012.

Campbell’s comments came immediately following a closed-door meeting she had with Mullin and representatives of AMA Pro Racing.

Several telephone calls made to AMA Pro Racing Director of Communication Gene Crouch seeking comment on this matter have not been returned.

But even if the necessary funds to televise this weekend's AMA Pro road races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca do materialize between now and race time, the races will definitely not be shown live, according to Mullin. They will be taped, edited with voice-overs by race commentators in post-production and aired at a later date.

“Another thing that’s important to remember,” Mullin added, “Chet Burks has done all of this on his own initiative because he loves the sport and wants to save it, and he knows without this TV deal the sport dies. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he’s committed to this sport and to these people. He’s taken this on because he knew no one else would step forward. Now we need the (promised) sponsors from earlier in the year to get behind this effort.”

The AMA Pro Racing TV package was announced in April without revealing that not all the series events would be on TV. What remains unanswered is this: Why didn't AMA Pro Racing tell racers, teams, sponsors, fans or even the racetrack that there would not be TV coverage of the AMA Pro classes this weekend?

Read more about that here: