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Jul 16, 2001

Updated Post With Additional Information: Arizona Applying Commercial Trucking Standards To Racers Pulling Trailers With Pick-up Trucks

Officers from the Arizona State Department of Public Safety are apparently applying commercial trucking standards to motorcycle racers pulling race trailers with pick-up trucks, requiring commercial log books, medical cards and DOT numbers.<BR><BR>Racer Chris Ulrich was stopped outside Kingman, Arizona this morning, where he had spent the night after leaving California Sunday evening en route to the AMA National race at Mid-Ohio, and told he had to remain "out of service" for eight hours because he did not have a commercial trucker's log book. According to Ulrich, Arizona Highway Patrolmen Kurt Russell, badge #4899, said that the "Suzuki" logo on Ulrich's Suzuki GSX-R750 was proof that Ulrich was running a commercial operation subject to all commercial carrier rules.<BR><BR>Ulrich is driving a Dodge Ram 3500 dually pulling a 40-foot six-wheel trailer--the trailer being owned by Mark Junge and loaned to Ulrich for the season--containing his GSX-R750 and other race equipment as well as living quarters.<BR><BR>According to Arizona Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicles spokesman Charles Blundell, commercial vehicle rules probably should not have been applied to Ulrich and his pick-up truck/trailer combination, and there is no crackdown on racers and their trailers in Arizona. While Blundell said the situation sounded like "a misunderstanding," Ulrich remains parked at a truck stop outside Kingman and has been ordered to stay there until 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.<BR><BR>But according to Arizona Department of Public Safety officer and media spokesman Steve Volden, any racer who receives contingency money or has any sponsorship is "in furtherance of some sort of commercial enterprise," which is why Ulrich was put "out of service" for not having a logbook, medical card and DOT numbers.<BR><BR>"Once you're compensated for the things you do, that's what puts you in a commercial category," said Volden.<BR><BR>"The driver of this truck made a couple of factual admissions to the officer," said Volden. "One that he is sponsored by Suzuki and some sort of brake company and that he received contingency fees when he wins. And that he is a professional racer. He even gave the officer one of his posters. Those admissions are factual indicators that he is in the furtherance of some sort of commercial enterprise, which is why he was put out of service. Which means he has to sit for eight hours before he can drive legally in a commercial venture."<BR><BR>According to Arizona Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Smith, who as Squad Commander supervises the officer who pulled Ulrich over, "It was a random spot check. Officers saw him going down the road and pulled him over. Under the Federal Motor Carrier law and state statute, if it's a commercial vehicle we have the right to stop and inspect them without any violations being noted. We do pick-ups all of the time in Arizona. He (Ulrich) does fall under the Federal Motor Carrier regulations due to the fact that he is sponsored by a corporation, Suzuki. He is also sponsored by a brake company. The Federal Motor Carrier laws say anything over 10,001 (pounds), if there's a trailer involved over 10,001 (pounds). This trailer is 14,700 (pounds). A combination of the pick-up and the gross vehicle weight rating of the trailer brings him up to 25,200 (pounds). So he's required to have a medical card and carry a log book. The section he falls under of the Federal Motor Carrier laws is 395.8(a) Record and Duty Status, and the one for the medical card is 391.41(a). Then you look at the definitions for things, and they'll say that that applies to him in these situations."<BR><BR>When Roadracing World asked Sgt. Smith for advice for other privateer racers driving their own transporters across the country to races, Sgt. Smith said, "What they need to do is check with the Feds and see if their equipment…each state varies. It depends on what they have adopted - that part of the motor carrier laws. Like Arizona is anything over 18,001 (pounds), if it's a combination, as long as the trailer is over 10,001 (pounds). You get into Utah, it's anything over 10,001 (pounds) whether it's a pick-up or just a trailer in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise."<BR><BR>Roadracing World has also asked Sgt. Smith to define "sponsorship" as used by the Arizona Highway Patrol to determine "commercial enterprise" in cases like this one. Sgt. Smith said he would get back to us on that.<BR><BR>(For the record, Chris Ulrich is not "sponsored by Suzuki" and does not have a contract with Suzuki nor Vesrah (brakes), the endurance team he rides for when not attending AMA Nationals as a privateer. He is, however, guilty of having posters, which he signs and gives out at races, and, in this unfortunate case, at the side of Interstate highways.)<BR><BR>Further Update Information:<BR><BR>This additional information just in from Sgt. Ben Smith of the Arizona Highway Patrol, via phone interview: "The rule is 390.3, and again there is about five-and-a-half paragraphs there, and it says, ‘Exceptions: Unless otherwise specified, specifically provided the rules of this sub-chapter do not apply to:<BR><BR>"And one of those is, ‘Occasional transportation of personal property by individuals not for compensation nor in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise.'<BR><BR>"Now in the back here it says, ‘Does exemption in 390.3(f)3 for the occasional transportation of personal property by individuals not for compensation nor in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise apply to persons who occasionally use commercial motor vehicles to haul cars, boats, horses, etc, to races, tournaments, shows, and similar events even if prize money is offered at these events.'<BR><BR>"Okay, the guidance, ‘The exemption would apply to this kind of transportation if provided (1) the underlying activities are not undertaken for profit, (a) prize money is declared as ordinary income for tax purposes, if (b) the cost of underlying activities is deducted as a business expense for tax purposes and where relevant corporate sponsorship is not involved.'<BR><BR>"I believe this individual at the site at the time of the stop told the officer that Suzuki gave him a monthly, uh, type of a salary. With that in mind, he does not fall under the exemption."<BR><BR>RW: Without that statement, it would have been more difficult to determine whether he was exempt or not? It would have taken a little bit of investigation?<BR>Sgt. Smith: "Yes. That's correct."<BR><BR>RW: Generally do you guys get into it that much?<BR>Sgt. Smith: "Well, not too long ago, we had a guy up on North 93. He was into these racing karts, and it took us about two-and-a-half hours with phone calls. We determined that he was sponsored by a racing kart company there in Oklahoma and the kart manufacturer out of Italy also provided sponsorship for him. Sometimes we can dig, and we can come up with the information. Sometimes we don't. Another time we spent two hours on a situation and weren't able to determine it, and let the guy go down the road. It took us about a week. Finally the answer came back, no he wasn't really, didn't fall under this guideline."<BR><BR>RW: Are you guys race-savvy? It sounds like you guys know what's going on a little bit with racing.<BR>Sgt. Smith: "Right."<BR><BR>RW: So you guys know the difference between a guy who's getting a salary from Suzuki or from Chevy and a guy who is rolling a couple of motocross bikes to the local track across the state line?<BR>Sgt. Smith: "Right. There's a big difference there, yeah. If it's borderline, we might do some digging for an hour or two, and we still haven't determined it one way or another we'll generally kick the guy loose. If you're doing a story on this you might add in this thing that the officer, he did not cite this individual. All he did was place him out of service for eight hours. Made him stop at a truck stop, place him out of service for eight hours, then he could continue on his trip. He did not cite him for anything. He could have cited him."<BR><BR>Editorial Opinion: Of course, he could have also applied some of the kind of time the Arizona Highway Patrol is apparently willing to spend to investigate a kart racer, using it to determine that, yes, Chris Ulrich had just spent most of the night at a truck stop after driving six hours from California, putting him well under the "in service" time limits. And he could have then sent Ulrich on his way toward Mid-Ohio with a warning to carry a log book in the future.<BR><BR>Meanwhile, reached by cell phone after serving his eight hours of down time, Chris Ulrich denied ever telling officer Russell that he got a salary of any type. "What would I gain by fabricating something like that?" asked Ulrich. "The guy sort of started out BSing about motocrossing and then started popping questions, but I never said I got a salary. And I never said I was sponsored by Suzuki, I told him that they give me contingency money. The guy completely made that stuff up about me saying I was getting a salary. I never once told him that I was on salary or had a contract with Suzuki. He was trying to say that I worked for Suzuki directly, and I told him that I didn't."<BR><BR>In response to this post, racer Jeff Short of Citrus Heights, California sent a FAX to Roadracing World that read, "What a pile of dung the Arizona CHP must be. Don't they realize holding someone for eight hours is probably more costly than the fine? What a gross intrusion into our personal freedom."