Opinion: Number Chaos Is More Proof That AMA Pro Racing Is Disfunctional

Opinion: Number Chaos Is More Proof That AMA Pro Racing Is Disfunctional

© 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

By John Ulrich

AMA Pro Racing has issued road racing numbers for 2002, and in doing so has demonstrated its own continued disfunction.

Want an example?

Grant Lopez has been #5 in AMA Formula Xtreme for three years. In 2001, he finished 3rd in AMA Formula Xtreme points.

On the 2002 number list for Formula Xtreme, Grant Lopez has been arbitrarily assigned #19 while #5 has been arbitrarily given to Michael Barnes.


Lopez has also been assigned #19 in Superbike, a class he did not compete in at all during the 2001 season.


“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Lopez told me when I asked him why he has suddenly become #19 instead of #5 in Formula Xtreme.

Lopez’s case is just one of many. Anybody who has actually been paying any attention to AMA Pro Racing for more than the past 10 minutes can easily spot other weirdness in the list of assigned 2002 numbers. In another case, Chris Ulrich’s request that he be allowed to retain #18 in AMA Superbike–a request first made the week after the cancellation of the Willow Springs round at which Chris was scheduled to race in Superbike, and repeated about four times since then–has been ignored and the number left unassigned, for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, Jason Pridmore has been re-assigned #43 in Superbike, although he, like Chris Ulrich, did not actually earn points in a Superbike race in 2001.

The underlying question is, why is AMA Pro Racing even issuing arbitrary numbers before the stated December 20 deadline for license renewals being turned in by riders wanting to retain their 2001 numbers? If the deadline is December 20, why is AMA Pro Racing moving numbers around now, almost two months prior to the deadline? Waiting until after the December 20 deadline would make a whole lot more sense, and cause a lot less confusion.

I can quickly name three organizations with more riders than AMA Pro Racing that do a far better job with number assignments and accommodating rider requests for given numbers: WERA, CCS, Formula USA.

Numbers are more than digits to riders. Many riders are attached to various numbers; many would like the same number in various classes they compete in.

The problem with AMA number assignments is nothing new. For 2001, AMA Pro Racing could have consolidated Lopez’s numbers in Formula Xtreme, 750cc Supersport and 600cc Supersport. Instead, he was assigned #5 in Formula Xtreme, #15 in 750cc Supersport and #65 in 600cc Supersport.


I have complained about this lack of logic in number assignments before. In response, AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth suggested that, if asked nicely, his staffers would try to accommodate number requests. I guess that explains Lopez’s number problem–he didn’t ask them nicely to not give away his Formula Xtreme number without even telling him they were doing it.

The real problem is that trying to deal with the AMA staffers who handle number assignments is like trying to deal with a rock. They don’t get it, they never have gotten it, they never will get it, they don’t care what you want, and they’ll do what they want anyway.

A start toward improving the situation would be Hollingsworth asking his staffers to not give away a rider’s long-standing number–like Lopez’s #5–and to not assign that rider a completely different number–#19–for no discernable reason.

Numbers and number assignments are part of the basic rider services that appear to be of no concern whatsoever to AMA Pro Racing staffers, and I doubt that Hollingsworth even has a clue what the big deal is.

All the more reason why AMA Pro Racing needs a thorough housecleaning–from the top down–and a restaffing with people who understand the basics of racing and racing organization management.

Including rational number assignments.

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