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Jan 3, 2001

Racer Details Woes Caused By Lack Of Timely Rule-Change Notice By AMA

AMA Pro Racing officials have a history of making rule changes without timely notification of racers prior to the rule change taking effect, either without considering--or simply ignoring--the impact on all competitors, an AMA racer has charged.

In an e-mail sent to AMA Pro Racing National Tech Manager Rob King and copied to Roadracing World, racer Dr. Michael Dube, MD, wrote "I raced several rounds of Pro Thunder in its inaugural season in 1998, on a 750cc Honda Hawk, and was looking to step up to a more competitive bike for 1999. I began work on an 850cc SuperHawk project just before the rule change to allow Ducati 748s was announced. I complained to you at the time that it would result in 748s dominating the class, and suggested several things, including limiting them to 750cc. Unfortunately, my 850cc SuperHawk proved uncompetitive in PT in 1999. Again at the end of the 1999 season, I made some suggestions regarding displacement (limiting the 748s or increasing the limits on non-desmo Twins).

"When it became apparent that these suggestions were not going to be taken, I made the jump to an 800cc Ducati for 2000. I had more success, with my personal season highlight a fifth place at Willow Springs. Just before Willow, I had a second 800cc motor built, as a spare and looking forward to Daytona.

"I think you can imagine my disappointment upon hearing the recent announcement that desmo Twins would be limited to 750cc for 2001. This will not, as you suggest, reduce costs. It will cost no less to take a stock 748 and build a full race motor under the new rules than it would to build an 800; in fact it might very well cost more as racers attempt to match the output of an 800cc motor. It will also be very costly for me (and others) to downsize an 800. I estimate at least $4000 per motor to downsize my two fresh, Daytona-ready 800s.

"As soon as the 2001 schedule was announced this past fall, I began arranging my work, vacation and on-call schedule to accommodate racing at five rounds: Daytona, Road Atlanta, Road America, Mid-Ohio and Virginia. I sat down to complete my Daytona entry and noted that there were now no PT rounds scheduled at three of those five events.

"It is neither feasible nor rational for me to invest the money required to downsize these 800cc motors to participate in just two AMA rounds in 2001. All of my racebike investments towards the end of 2000 were geared towards continuing (with) the same equipment in 2001. It does not appear possible for me to compete in the AMA again in 2001 under the current rules and schedule, which was to be my final year of racing at the National level at age 42.

"To say I am angry is an understatement. If there is any chance that you will consider rational arguments as to why these changes should be reversed, I will be happy to share them with you," concluded Dube.

But while the AMA Pro Racing Board of Directors recently reversed a ban on quick-lifts during Superbike races on the grounds that teams had already prepared such equipment for the 2001 season prior to learning of the rule change, insiders say there is little chance that the displacement change in Pro Thunder will be reversed to accommodate racers such as Dube--simply because he is not affiliated with a factory Superbike team.

And despite several Pro Racing Directors saying they are considering a new rule-making system requiring advance notice and an opportunity for affected riders and teams to comment prior to a rule taking effect, insiders say that AMA Pro Racing staffers strongly object to allowing riders to comment in advance and claim that all the required input can be had from the Road Racing Advisory Board.

Critics point out that the Road Racing Advisory Board is hand-picked by AMA Pro racing staffers and is non-representative of the paddock at large, with several groups of what AMA Pro Racing likes to call "stakeholders" being ignored in favor of members affiliated with factory Superbike teams.