Reader E-mails To AMA Regarding Mladin Fine, Part 3

Reader E-mails To AMA Regarding Mladin Fine, Part 3

© 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Showing Its Ugly Ass

so much for freedom of speech, guess the AMA once again shows its ugly ass.

Mladin Fine Okay

I’m taking advantage of the link provided by Roadracing World to your e-mail addresses.

I think Mat Mladin deserved a fine for hijacking that press conference. However, I think championship points should be deducted for on-track actions, not for anything that happens off-track.

Keith Patti

P.S. Here are some links you might find interesting:

Mladin’s taped comments from RRW

Item claiming Mladin refused interviews to protest track conditions.

Item for which Mladin “copped a lotta flak.”

(The “flak” item appeared Friday morning. The “protest” item came out Saturday morning. Mladin’s taped interview was Saturday afternoon.)

Sunday’s Monitor included this item (second in column) attributing the protest claim to Mladin’s “PR person.”

Sunday’s 600 race: “The pathetic surrender …” more from the Concord Monitor:

more from the Union Leader:

Fine Inapprpriate And Excessive

I want to state my opinion, based on listening to a recording of the Mladin interview, that the AMA fine was inappropriate and excessive. Further, after reading the comments of Larry Lawrence on the WERA BBS, where he called Mladin a liar based on his own interpretation of events, I think your PR man had an axe to grind. It would appear his “feelings” of what occurred at the press interview over-rode a cogent, intelligent analysis of the facts in evidence. I do not view Mladin’s comments, or conduct, as “detrimental” to the sport or to the AMA. Could someone with more maturity or reasonableness please review this situation?

Jeff Hunter
AMA #693145

There Doesn’t Seem To Be Any Correlation

I read the AMA’s press release which detailed the reason for fining Mr. Mladin and removing one point in his score for the race at Loudon last week.

Then, I read and listened to Mr. Mladin’s actual statement during the press conference.

There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the two. Mr. Mladin was very calm and reasoned in his press conference, while also conveying how upset he was at being wrongly portrayed by media reports. This seems understandable, and a proper and responsible way for an AMA Champion to act. During this portion of his comments, he mentioned that he was tired of this sh**. While I don’t normally use vulgar language in public conversation, it does have the effect of making a strong point, when used sparingly. I believe Mr. Mladin was indeed using this word to make a strong point, and as he did not use any other vulgar language during his statement, I think it was a reasonable thing to do.

He then mentioned how disorganized the scheduling of press conferences have been. He did not blame Mr. Lawrence of the AMA for the disorganization, but only mentioned that he had been the person to schedule the conference, and that the schedule had not been communicated to Mr. Mladin. Again, a proper and responsible way for an AMA champion to act. Mr. Mladin alone, as the reigning AMA Superbike champion, has a responsibility to try to elevate the standing of his sport. If he believes the sport would be better served by speaking out against a perceived disorganization, he has the podium to do so. This was not an attempt to harm the AMA, but to help make it better.

Then, Mr. Mladin mentioned in a very offhand manner, in response to comments on his record-breaking lap time, that it was in fact slowed partially by two fellow factory racers. He also conveyed his disappointment that his lap time wasn’t any faster because of this, and he thought the two riders should have known to get out of his way. While I tend to think that Mr. Bostrom and Mr. Pegram do in fact know how to get out of his way, it shows that Mr. Mladin is at heart a fierce competitor, and this is something commendable in a champion racer.

For these comments, the AMA saw fit to punish Mr. Mladin. I don’t think this is justified, and only serves to make the AMA seem small and petulant, far over-reacting to a perceived criticism that simply isn’t there.

Please reconsider your organization’s action, and rescind the fine and point removal. Mr. Mladin is a fine competitor, and seems like the kind of person the AMA would be better off to have as a friend than an enemy.

Charles Stembridge

God-given Right To His Opinion

The nice gentlemen at the AMA must have missed the movie “Good Morning Vietnam.” Invariably, the media will always twist words and actions in order to make the opinions of many into headlines. Check out that story on Lady Di if you don’t believe me! What I don’t understand is the undeniable lack of logic on the part of the AMA! What exactly is the purpose of such an organization!? Why does it take, in a most prolific manner I might add, someone like Mr. Ulrich to see things clearly and give much needed information to the public at large? Should I really care about giving money over and over again at races nationwide, and seeing nothing positive come out of it? I attend the race in Daytona every year! Need I bring up a few of the many absurd happenings during race day this past March?

In the end, you (the AMA) fined a man simply because he expressed a God given right to his opinion! If Mat Mladin thinks you are doing a crappy job, then maybe that point should be considered for a few seconds! The racers put their lives on the line each and every second they spend on the track! Ask Mr. Ulrich the animosity he can feel in just a few seconds while his son is out racing. I currently work for one of the largest global corporations in existence. Safety is the #1 overriding priority each day I go to work! Why can’t the AMA put that on the list as well?


Chas Johnson

Fine Speaks Volumes

That the AMA would fine a person for speaking their mind in the country whose First Amendment is freedom of speech speaks volumes. This clearly demonstrates why street riders I’ve meet over the last years are not renewing membership – lack of support for the members and the racers. Major changes are need in personnel to find a new direction. What a sad, sad day for the AMA.

Jim K.

Mladin And Choinard Treatment A Travesty At Loudon

AMA’s treatment of Choinard is a travesty. I refuse to renew my membership until AMA Pro Racing stops treating racers so poorly. The Mladin thing is worse because I don’t think the fine or the one point happens if Mladin is American. Keep this up and all the expensive PR in the world will not save you. It really seems like the AMA is to motorcycle racing what Don King is to boxing.

Don Gosen
Ontario, Canada

What A Joke

Thanks for bringing to light what a joke Vanderslice and his whole organization are. Thanks as well as coming up with the Air Fence fund, that was a great idea and has been very successful. Your magazine is the only one I have a subscription to. It is without a doubt the best racing/sportbike magazine ever.


Bart Fuqua

Demanding A Resignation

Due to vanderslice’s unprofessional conduct, please ask(demand) his resignation.

He has nothing to lose from lack of practice during changing track conditions, but the riders certainly do. Vanderslice is not the person to represent the AMA. He especially shouldn’t running a race where lives are at stake.

James Arhart, DDS
AMA #305264

Heavy Hand Of The AMA

I used to be a card-carrying member of the AMA due to participation in the USBA that was based out of Salt Lake City, UT and the Hare-N-Hound events that were held in Utah, Idaho and Nevada back in the late 1980s. I had first experienced the heavy hand of the AMA in regards to the constraints being placed on the Offroad Series, followed closely with the plundering of the CCS. I had been part of the AMA before, during, and after the entire CCS debacle and it is evident in my eyes that no matter what spin the AMA puts on the judges decision, you don’t pay out over 3 million dollars to the defendant if you were right.

But the AMA seems to think that not only are they above the law, but that they are the law. Penalizing a rider when he exercises his freedom of speech (even if he is Australian) is inexcusable. The entire chain of events from press conference through Sunday’s aborted 600 race are deplorable. If the AMA truly had the racers’ interest at heart, versus trying to make a buck off the race, more time should have been given to ensuring that the racetrack was fit to race on. Due to lack of regard for racer safety, I would be surprised if any of the factory teams show up next year at NHIS. At least Sears Point is making an effort to redesign their course to make it safer.

Your actions and words during and following the races are alienating fans and racers. Mr. Vanderslice’s actions alone have shown that the AMA believes that it is more important than the racers who put it on the line for pride and determination. If you are going to continue to treat these brave people in this manner then it is my opinion that the AMA should abandon sanctioning races and go after those pesky helmet laws that are so deplorable. Leave racing to organizations such as WERA and various local clubs that are concerned about the safety and well being of their riders.

Good day,

Ed Fox

AMA Pro Racing Punishment of Mladin Completely Inappropriate

I have a very direct interest in AMA Pro Racing. My son is an AFM and AMA road racer and will be competing in the upcoming AMA Nationals at Laguna Seca.

The purpose of this note is to express my opinion regarding your fining Mat Mladin $5000 and penalizing him 1 point for what you term “detrimental conduct” during a post-qualifying press conference at NHIS. To be blunt, I believe that your punitive actions against Mladin were completely inappropriate.

I have listened to the unabridged interview on the Roadracing World website. The only area that I feel was even questionable was when Mat once said he was tired of this “s***,” referring I believe, to the local reporter’s article that [unfairly?] accused Mat of not being accessible to reporters.

Your press release states that “AMA Pro Racing deems Mladin’s actions in the press conference as inexcusable. The public form of a press conference is not the place to raise personal issues with AMA Pro Racing officials, newspaper reporters, fellow competitors or use foul language.”

I agree that a press conference is not the place for foul language (although one “s***” is certainly not a biggie these days), but I strongly disagree that a press conference is not the place to raise issues. As far as I can tell, there is just about no other place that AMA riders can effectively express their concerns today. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my belief that currently there is no ombudsman or other such channel within AMA Pro Racing for riders to bring up such issues as track safety, officiating, or competitor behavior in a meaningful way.

In closing, I would like to say that TRACK SAFETY is always very much on my mind. My son contributed $100 to the Roadracing World Air Fence Fund as soon as he heard about it. At Sears Point in Turn 10 I saw with my own eyes how Air Fence can save a rider from serious injury. I also have seen how “air bales” have saved riders at Sears Point in AFM races. Track safety means a whole lot to a parent of a road racer. Frankly when I learned about the Roadracing World Air Fence Fund, I was APPALLED that the AMA hadn’t done anything visible in this regard for years, even though the technology has been available.

Thank you very much for listening,

Ron Kunzelman

Loudon A Fiasco

I am a huge road racing fan and also a licensed CCS racer and card-crrying AMA member. However the actions of the AMA at the Loudon event this past year and at the 2000 event leave me with some pretty serious doubts about the competency of the select few in charge of these events.

First of all, let me ask that you, please continue to bring AMA road racing to NHIS. I happen to live only 30 minutes from the track and this is the only professional road racing event that I am able to attend.

Now, the real reason for my writing. You guys need to pull your collective heads out of your asses. Penalizing the AMA national champion by fining him and taking away a championship point is ridiculous. Do we no longer live in a country where we are allowed to speak our minds? By not allowing the riders a few practice laps after the track was dried turned out to be another really dumb move. You denied the fans what they had paid for. I know you can’t do anything about the weather but last year you guys sat around for hours before finally deciding that the race be postponed to MONDAY. How many people do you think were able to make it back for the race on MONDAY? Same thing again this year, how many of the fans actually made it for the main event?

Way to go for the 600 SS winner and the others on the podium, but do you people really think that this is the way these guys really wanted to get on the box? I know that I would be disappointed that I did not get the chance to race against the best 600 SS riders in the country just because the powers that be felt it necessary to flex their muscle.

I think that you owe:

1)The fans an apology and a partial refund

2)A refund to Mat Mladin of $5000 and reinstatement of the point taken away

Get it together soon or I fear that the AMA will lose not only members but the credibility that it has worked hard for all these years.

John Giordano
AMA #434158
CCS #647816

AMA Did What Had To Be Done




AMA Member Very Disappointed

As a AMA member I am very disappointed the AMA has fined Matt Mladin regarding his comments in Last week’s press conference. Objectively listening to the file downloaded from Roadracing World’s website it is evident that personal feelings entered into the decision to fine Mladin. The interview was courteous, truthful and not worthy of any type of penalty. If the press published the truth, perhaps racers would not be in the position to voice their opinions of the truth. I am glad Matt spoke his mind and set the record strait.


Marco Zucchi
AMA # 406529
WERA # 205
Bluewave Computing
Director of Sales and Marketing

AT A Loss Over Mladin’s Fine and Point Loss

After listening to the recording of Mat Mladin’s post-qualifying press conference at the Loudon race facility, I am at a complete loss as to why the AMA would fine Mladin and dock him a championship point. Especially puzzling is the championship point, considering that he is being penalized for a behavior that was demonstrated not during the actual race.

I have no affiliation with motorcycle racing other than being a fan. If the AMA is trying to mold motorcycle racers into the NASCAR paradigm of milk-drinking, all-American, bible-quoting pretty boys who are trying as hard to sell soap as to win races, I will not be around to see it. I like racers who are focused on the task and willing to speak their minds.

I’d be willing to bet that if Mladin’s (or any other racer’s) sponsors take enough offense at on-or off-track behavior, the loss of sponsorship dollars will have much more of an effect than the AMA’s petty slap.

Tom Shields
Fort Worth, Texas

Request for Reconsideration of Mat Mladin Disciplinary Action

I am an ardent supporter of AMA racing and attend events all over the country. However, I feel that AMA’s disciplinary action towards Mat Mladin was inappropriate, considering what was actually said during the press conference. I have reviewed the taped interview of Mladin and the AMA press release and it certainly appears that the disciplinary action taken by AMA was reactionary, excessive and even vengeful.

I have also seen Larry Lawrence’s “explanation” as stated on , and invite you to do the same. I am asking that you do a complete review of this action and take any steps you deem necessary to make it more appropriate to the “sins” committed.

It is apparent that the AMA press release, obviously written by the still-smarting Mr. Lawrence, distorted what Mladin had actually said and the manner in which he said it. When I first read the press release, I agreed with the AMA disciplinary action. After hearing the tape itself, I realized how inaccurate and self-serving the press release was. It is apparent to me that Mr. Lawrence was attempting to justify the disciplinary action by distorting the truth and essentially demonizing Mladin for being critical of his organizational skills. I don’t know if the press conference was disorganized or not, but Mladin thought so and should have been allowed to speak his opinion without fear of reprisal. AMA disciplinary actions should not be used as a foil by its PR representative for personal vendettas or revenge.

I believe that Mr. Mladin was indeed frustrated with the reporter who wrote a story that he was refused an interview because the riders were being forced to race on an unsafe track. After reading Lawrence’s accounting of this incident, it wasn’t Mladin who refused the interview at all, but an unnamed pit worker. Regardless, Mladin should have had the right to refute this reporter’s allegations to the very press that was making them…what more appropriate venue was there?

In addition, regarding the criticism of the Loudin track, Mladin was just stating the obvious fact…that Loudon is an unsafe track for racing motorcycles and the owners have done very little in the recent past to make it safer for bikes. I wonder what AMA’s position would have been if one of Superbike’s star riders had been killed after hitting one of Loudon’s infamous walls? Mladin was not the only critical voice amongst the riders about the unsafe track conditions. Several other riders voiced their concerns in Speedvision interviews, albeit a bit more subtlety than Mat did. Actually, I feel that AMA’s focus should have more emphasis on rider safety at these tracks, much like WSB and GP racing has for its riders.

Thanks for your reconsideration.

Jim Daniel
Frankfort, KY

It’s Unbelievable

With regard to Mat Mladin being fined and losing points. After listening to the tape recording of the press interview I find that it’s unbelievable that a rider cannot express himself in an honest manner with regards to track conditions, slower riders, printed misquotes and the lack of professionalism shown by the AMA Officials. With reference to the so-called profanity. One word! Give me a break! I’ve heard worse than that from children. Also, for Merrill Vanderslice to make a comment the “we run the AMA – they don’t”, referring to the riders, shows complete ignorance. Without the riders (racers and street riders), there would be no AMA! Who does he think basically pays his salary and provides him a job? I say, give Mladin back his point and money!

Al Lyons, President
California Motorcycle Road Race Association

AMA And The Racer

Lately all I have been hearing about is all of the challenges racers are having with the AMA, from the 750cc Supersport rider who was disqualified for cleaning his valves, to the incident where the racers were not allowed practice laps on a slippery track. Then there is the Mladin fining issue which seems out of hand. And I feel you should share the Air Fence with the other racing groups. I personally contributed to the Air Fence fund through my motorcycle group. I understand that there is a lot of power plays going on and political type issues bantered about by various groups, but it seems to me that the purpose of the AMA is to work with the racers to provide safe and fun events that are fair for all. That includes not excluding the privateers from gaining track practices prior to an event. I have been considering getting into racing as a hobby, but as of this moment, I would prefer to involve myself with racing groups other than the AMA. Please use your power wisely and make the AMA a good organization for all that love this sport like I do.


Richard Toepper

Mladin Press Conference Made A New Fan

After listening to the Mladin interview, I was left a fan. I never really was a Mladin fan, in fact I wanted a T-shirt that says “Anyone but Mladin”; but after listening to the interview, I now like him. He’s not afraid to speak up, even though nothing he said was terrible, it was all the truth as he saw it.

Free speech is great in this country, isn’t it? That means we all don’t have to walk around and praise everything that George Bush does or the laws he makes for this country. We can disagree, and not get fined, jailed, or penalized in any way. If George Bush wanted me to go out and do something I wasn’t comfortable with, I would have to voice my concerns. Sure, if this were a different society, those comments could get me in trouble; but luckily, I can disagree all I want and still whistle all the way home.

We listen to interviews with the professional racers because we want to know how they feel, what’s on their minds REALLY, not some “Oh I better make this rose-colored or I’m going to get in trouble” made up BS with a fake happy face on.

If Mat doesn’t like how the other riders rode around the track in qualifying, he has a right to say so. If he doesn’t like the track safety conditions, he has a right to say so. If he is being misquoted by the press, he DEFINITELY has a right to say so.. and what better place than back to the press, where the misquote originated. He was trying to set the record straight, and the time and place was perfect for that.

Also, “using profanity at times”, I heard “shit” one time (compare that with 162 times on South Park last week). Big fat hairy deal. Was there a rule before entering the press conference that he COULDN’T say any particular words or talk about any particular topic?

Don’t try to control what the riders say, it takes away from the experience for us spectators. We want to know if they’re scared to go out on a track; we watch with anticipation and hope no one gets hurt after hearing stuff like that. I think that fining and docking him a point is completely unfair; there were no rules against him saying what he said until after he said it; then all of a sudden it’s wrong to speak your mind.

With all of the unfortunate decisions AMA racing has been making, it could very easily get taken over by a more “open minded” organization that would give the riders perks to come over. I think if you continue to piss off the riders, they most certainly will abandon your organization when something better comes along (can I say “piss off”? I hope I don’t get fined for that).

I know I’m watching AMA racing because of the riders. If they left, I’d be just as happy watching them race in some other organization. I broke my back in a race two years ago; track safety was not a paramount concern at the track I was at. After the agony, wheelchair, rehab, humility, and the daily pain I go through, I only wish more people had the balls to stand up and say that a track is unsafe, so that maybe the tracks would become safer.

I don’t want to see my favorite riders have to go through what I went through. Maybe I should have spoken up; I would rather see people maybe look crabby than to have to live with my regrets.

But in closing, it’s just plain ridiculous and mean-spirited to fine and penalize a rider for conduct he does when he’s not riding that doesn’t (negatively) affect the safety of the other riders. Again, I was never a Mladin fan, but I’m quickly becoming one; and I’ve always been an AMA fan, but I’m becoming much less of one with every dictator-like decision that comes out; like unfair enforcement of rules (letting certain rider ride at the track before a race, and not letting others), dragging your feet when it comes to jumping on opportunities to make the riders safer, trying to force the riders to race on a track they don’t feel comfortable with when all they asked for was a lousy five laps, and now this). Realize we’re not in this for you; we’re in this for us and the professional riders.

Steve Bauman

Detrimental Conduct Is BS

The AMA is great for protecting the average “Joe’s” right/privileges to ride. AMA PRO RACING has gone downhill and down hill REAL FAST. Refusal to acknowledge when you’re not “in the right” and taking your lumps is hypocritical when phrases are doled out such as “worthy of a champion”. Like a little child who does not get his way, you concoct total BS regarding Mladin. Take the S_ht out of your ears and listen to the riders and stop making up childish stories. You just make the whole organization look like a bunch of ignorant buffoons. Before the factories eventually jump ship to Formula USA.. And it will happen if this keeps up…..

Oh yeah, the AMA didn’t care about Air Fences until John U made the move. You all better get some schrader valves installed in your heads to deflate some of your pompous egos.

Michael De Blanco

Questioning AMA Tactics

As a competitor, and a Loudon Club racer I question your tactics striping Mat Mladin of his pole point and fining him $5000.

After reviewing a tape of the actual words spoken during this conference it seems to me that you are fining Maladin for expressing his opinion rather then for use of profanity. The punishment is unusually harsh for simple profanity. In fact this punishment is unprecedented.

Major League Baseball does not have the power to do what you did. Take John Rocker as an example. Major League Baseball did not fine or suspend him for voicing his opinion. (although they did threaten)

“Selig made his decision to punish Rocker in full knowledge that no arbitrators would uphold it, but what the heck, he could now say to the cameras, ‘Hey, I tried.’ That Major League Baseball had absolutely no business restricting Rocker from pursuing his livelihood because he is a bigoted asshole went curiously unremarked on by the mainstream media.” Quoted from Allen Barra. Allen Barra is a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a regular contributor to the New York Times.

My point.

Do not use your power to censor. This is unprofessional. The AMA is a small operation where you are not in the general public eye. You will probably get away with this. It’s wrong to punish a rider for having an opinion, even if he is dead wrong. Although on a few points I think Maladin struck a nerve.

Please try to run your business in a more professional manner in the future.


John Kabacinski

Yet Another Blunder

Mat Mladin was asked in a press conference, if he’d share how he set the track record. With that Mat set out to set the “record straight” in a few other areas which caught those in attendance off-guard.

I view the $5000 fine and point reduction action taken by the AMA as yet another blunder in the AMA’s handling of the Pro Racing series and still another reason why “WE ARE THE AMA, TAKE BACK THE AMA” is a valid banner and and cry for overhaul immediately.

Tom Drumm
RW subscriber/Air Fence Contributor

Totally Unacceptable

I think the way you handled the incident totally unacceptable. Mat is the 2-time AMA Superbike Champion and when he speaks about issues such as track safety he speaks not only for himself but for the other racers as well. Most of the factory riders didn’t even push each other due to the safety of the track. I believe the only reason you fined him and docked him a point was to show the press that no rider will badmouth the AMA and get away with it. Ask yourselves a question, how long have riders been complaining about Loudon. Has anything been done? No. The only thing AMA has done is place the Air Fences in certain areas of tracks. I will however compliment AMA on that. It is a good step towards safety. I believe every rider will agree with me by saying Loudon isn’t a motorcycle track. The track owners and officials don’t care if AMA races there or not. All they care about is the money. Mostly coming from NASCAR and other car series. I’m waiting for a good excuse as to why Mat was punished for stating the facts about the racer’s safety. How many times does someone have to complain before anything will be done? Tired of Yosh Suzuki winning? Enjoy the money? Waiting for someone to die? I know, I know, politics…..right? Give me a break.


Jacob Warren

Problem Just Keeps Getting Worse

I have been watching AMA pro events for 20 years. The AMA racing organization has always seemed to leave much to be desired in most areas including event organization, event promotion, rules administration and track safety. The sad thing is that despite the years of criticism and continuing turnover of high level management, the problem just keeps getting worse, highlighted by the AMA’s poor handling of criticism by Mat Mladin. As a past amateur racer I am always amazed that various amateur organizations seem to perform better than the AMA Pro racing.

Bob Chappuis

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