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Sep 16, 2001

Willow Springs Raceway's Chris Huth Responds To Criticism Of Racetrack Over Cancelled AMA National

This is a reply from race98wsir (Chris Huth) to an e-mail from an anonymous e-mailer, spd24@prodigy.net. Huth forwarded the exchange to roadracingworld.com.<BR><BR>Reading the exchange, we couldn't help but think that the words written by spd24@prodigy.net reminded us of a certain AMA Pro racer who cut his racing teeth at Willow Springs and was looking forward to attempting to rescue his dismal-to-date season at the National scheduled for his home track. Of course, we could be wrong...<BR><BR>In a message dated 9/15/01 9:34:12 a.m., spd24@prodigy.net writes: I speak for many when I say that I am very disappointed that Willow was not able to work with the AMA to reschedule this race.<BR><BR>Chris Huth: Many are also disappointed that AMA was not able to work with Willow Springs. We were ready to continue as scheduled, and so were several teams that had arrived. I don't disagree with AMA Pro racing's decision to postpone that day, after all they should know better than anyone what kind and how many logistical problems the series would face under the circumstances. Nothing had been decided at that point, and everyone was aware of the possibility that a cancellation could happen as a result of the postponement. And it did, despite looking at many optional dates which were not possible for either WSIR or the AMA, or the teams according to AMA. There were several issues besides our track's availability involved in the decision-making process.<BR><BR>We did contact many of our customers and asked them to consider canceling their event at Willow. The clubs that could move had dates that weren't acceptable to scheduling due to hardship for AMA teams and conflicting national events, including national motorcycle road racing events. The clubs that couldn't move faced not only the lack of other venues in So. Cal., but also the time constraints towards the end of most racing seasons. If this had been an earlier round of the AMA series, we could have found a replacement date, but it wasn't, so we couldn't.<BR><BR>spd24@prodigy.net: We had more than 25 people in our camp alone that are very disappointed. In looking at your schedule I find it hard to believe that you think some local club racing is more important than this! This is a national event! This is INDY! This is NASCAR! NOT SOME SMALL DEAL! YOU SHOULD HAVE FOUND A WAY TO PUT THIS EVENT ON OVER ALL OTHER CLUB RACES!<BR><BR>Chris Huth: Contrary to what you might think, groups like the Porsche Owners Club are not just some rinky dink local nothing deals. They are also a national organization with pro racing events. Most of them don't enjoy factory support, just like the AMA's privateers, but that doesn't mean they don't have as much passion and dedication as those who do, it doesn't mean they don't count as much as someone who gets paid to race. Sacrificing the club racers, both motorcycle and auto, who support our track with many events each year, year after year, in favor of pro racers who come out once a year or less really isn't smart business. And forcing the people who have made it possible for us to stay in business for over 40 years to cancel their events, or move their events to other venues, is not how we do business. Besides, where do you think all those NASCAR, CART, IRL, and even AMA stars you enjoy watching so much got started? Small deal indeed.<BR><BR>spd24@prodigy.net: I have spoken to some at the AMA and I really think that you do not have to worry about any more AMA races at Willow. They seem very frustrated in dealing with you, which is a shame. I too will consider your nearsightedness before I ever attend a Willow Springs event again!<BR><BR>Chris Huth: Although we would hate to see this situation cause some of our customers to stop attending events at Willow Springs, you can believe me when I say we are not worried that we won't have another AMA event here, or for that matter any other pro racing event. We're not in this business just for the fun of it. We paid for this event. We rescued it from cancellation back in May, knowing full well we would be lucky to break even, because we felt it wasn't right that Southern California, the motorcycle industry's biggest single market, wouldn't have an AMA national event. Now, from a purely business point of view, putting on a very expensive, previously-postponed motorcycle race under the pall of a national tragedy that can only be compared to Pearl Harbor, and the possibilities of war, would be crazy. Add the additional costs and losses of rescheduling the race under these conditions, and forget it. Last year, Hansyllan Motorsports worked their butts off and spent a rumored additional $250K in advertising to promote what was the National Championship Final Round of this series, an even bigger deal than this year. There was perfect weather, and the racing was fantastic. To see around 10,000 people attend (a rather large percentage of those were complimentary) hurt, and this was the reason Hansyllan backed out this year. If it's such a big deal, where was all the support from the many fans, or is 10K the absolute number of people in the entire southwest willing to show support for motorcycle road racing? I hope the promoters at the possible California Speedway AMA round next year get more support from the fans than that. They'll certainly need it. It's a fickle business at best, and it can cost you more than money.<BR><BR>spd24@prodigy.net: It is a real tragedy we are all faced with now and racing is insignificant in comparison, but it is a release that you could have helped us all with. You have chosen not to work to make a NATIONAL event happen. I think this is a real shame.<BR><BR>Chris Huth: And I was hoping to watch all the racing and other sports I could find on TV this weekend, a release that could have helped me deal with my frustration, but I don't hold it against the organizations, teams, or players because I can't. I understand that they are people like the rest of us, doing their best to deal with a very personal and tragic situation in their own way. They need a release, too. To expect, no, to insist that they work to entertain me or I'll quit watching or coming to their events, seems a little harsh under the circumstances. Oh yeah, I did get to see some racing on TV today. I watched a friend of mine get his legs cut off in a racing accident in Germany. I guess you have to be careful what you hope for. Not much of a release after all. I would rather they had canceled that event, but who knew.<BR><BR>I thank you for taking the time to express your feelings, and giving me a chance to express mine. Obviously you care a lot about racing, and I <BR>appreciate that.<BR><BR>I usually don't respond to anonymous criticism, but this subject is important to me. It makes it hard to believe you speak for many if you do it <BR>anonymously. I think people should accept responsibility for their words as well as their actions. Please don't bother writing back unless you include your name.<BR><BR>Christopher Huth<BR>Willow Springs International Raceway<BR>www.willowspringsraceway.com