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Jan 24, 2014

Race Team Owner David Lloyd Shares His Thoughts On The Current State Of AMA Pro Flat Track Racing

Lloyd Brothers Motorsports' Michael Lloyd (left) and David Lloyd (right).

FIRST PERSON/OPINION:

Via e-mail:

by David Lloyd, Co-owner Lloyd Brothers Motorsports, Inc.

The circumstances that have brought the AMA Pro Racing Dirt Track Series (I prefer Dirt Track over Flat Track for its marketing value so that is what I call it) to its current state has nothing to do with the economy or the on-track racing action. It has nothing to do with the efforts of the AMA Pro Racing Dirt Track team as I can attest that everyone from the AMA Pro Racing Director of Dirt Track, Dan Johnsen, down to the crew loading the gear at the races work hard and with passion. The problem is the business model that they have been directed to work within. I am willing to bet that any company that has maintained the same business model that they had 40 years ago has lost market share just like we have.

There is an incredible amount of passion for the sport of motorcycle dirt track racing. Well directed passion will breed success. We are in need of a unified promotional organization properly resourced to enable and implement a coordinated vision between AMA Pro Racing, teams, riders, sponsors and venues to ensure future success and growth of the series.

To realize the potential success of the AMA Pro Racing Dirt Track Series, adoption of a revised business model is necessary and we don’t have to look much further than Supercross or the Pro Bull Riding Association. A fundamental change to the current business plan for dirt track is warranted to not only reach an acceptable level of sustainability for AMA Pro Racing teams to continue to compete in the series but also to grow the sport, expand the fan base and deliver consistent profits with proper track location, selection and promotion.

The AMA Pro Racing website states “In 2008, the American Motorcycle Association announced the sale of certain professional racing properties to AMA Pro Racing, based in Daytona Beach, Florida. The move was brought about by the need for the association to place the management of pro racing in the hands of a well resourced motorsports entertainment company.”

Despite the stated reasons for purchasing pro racing from AMA, Ohio; AMA Pro Racing continues to operate with the same business model as AMA Ohio, acting as a sanctioning body and series administrator, not an entertainment promotion company.

The current business model requires the sale of many individual sanctions to promoters (some with no experience) that barely offset the cost of goods sold associated with the officiating of each event. Other income is generated through registration fees charged to competitors and crews. Lastly, income is generated by selling sponsorships to series sponsors. This strategy is deficient in that:

·Location and scheduling of the races is dependent on the promoter.

·In order to build a series with enough races to attract sponsors, AMA Pro Racing is forced to compromise standards when selling sanctions to some tracks and promoters that are not national level in terms of facility quality, location, demographics, promotion experience and potential sponsor and fan draw.

·The success of the event lies largely with the promoter and his ability to promote and manage the event. The track location, advertising budget, pre-race promotional activities, media relations, facility condition, track preparation equipment availability, ticket pricing and fan experience are all in the hands of the promoter and are outside of the direct control of AMA Pro Racing. Thus creating an inconsistency in quality.

·The series ends up with events spread widely geographically and many with low spectator attendance and a less than excellent fan experience.

·Many events do not reach enough spectators to create an acceptable return on investment for sponsors to commit to levels of sponsorship to make it possible for AMA Pro Racing and race teams to offset the high costs of travel to these events, leading to low rider turn out, unhappy promoters and a poor fan experience.

·With the fate of the series in the hands of so many different promoters, the quality of the series is compromised and it is impossible to sell a series sponsorship. There was no series sponsor for the 2013 expert division because the series hasn’t realized the marketing value of which it is truly capable.

·When a single event is a success and has adequate to high spectator attendance, the promoter benefits the most financially, not AMA Pro Racing or the teams. When an event is a failure, the promoter, AMA Pro Racing and the teams all suffer the consequences.

A revised business model where AMA Pro Racing, or a new separate entity, partners with existing top-rated promoters and events and also exclusively targets new locations and promotes new events is necessary. This will benefit AMA Pro Racing, the race teams and the series in that:

·There will be more conformity and better efficiency between the events as related to promotion, preparation and execution. Lessons learned at one event can be immediately implemented for a better, more successful next event.

·Standardize promotional items and procedures.

·Better managed and improved fan experience.

·Better control of sponsor, media and participant relations at each event.

·Sponsors and marketing partners will be more attracted to the series and teams when events are well attended and are located in strong geographic markets.

·AMA Pro Racing will be more profitable hosting well attended events than it will ever be by just selling sanctions.

·AMA Pro Racing, teams and riders will directly benefit from successful events in lieu of just a third party promoter.

Once a unified promotion company is in place then the work can begin to:

·Implement a television package.

·Promote the athletes and teams to build a strong fan base and broaden the awareness of the sport.

·Improve paddock presentation.

·Create events – not just races.

·Find series sponsors.