Feb 3, 2001
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Reader (and GLRRA racer) Ron Henning of Kalamazoo, Michigan sent this e-mail to Roadracing World in response to our item quoting Erik Buell explaining his take on the recent AMA Pro Thunder rules-change controversy (see roadracingworld.com, Breaking News, January 26):
"'One of the tough things you have to do is grow up and be more mature' says Erik Buell.
"Is it immature for a rider to voice complaints about a rule change that threatens a class and will cost the rider several thousand dollars? Or is Erik Buell saying that the AMA cares about input from the manufacturers (who have sponsorship money) but not from the sniveling, ‘immature' riders trying to race on a shoestring? Let's face it, we all know who the AMA is willing to listen to. But let's not blame the rider's ‘immaturity' when their poverty is really the reason they were shunted out of this decision.
"First, let me say that I don't race Pro-thunder or even AMA. I don't have an axe to grind and have never personally had any problem with AMA rules or officials. But Erik Buell's ‘defense' of the Pro Thunder rule changes is laughable."
"'They notified us before they made the changes (to the Pro Thunder rules),' said Buell in a telephone interview with Roadracing World. ‘I make it a point to talk to them (AMA officials) and just check on things. They didn't call me on the phone.'"
"By his own admission, he wasn't notified of the rule changes until he called and asked. So is the average rider supposed to be comforted by the fact that Erik Buell had good enough connections within the AMA to receive advance notification (if he asks the right questions)? Does Buell really think that Joe Racer is going to get the same cooperation he does? And does AMA really expect every race team to call several times a season (and in the off season) just to ask if anything might be changed ‘someday'?"
"'(The communication problems between the riders and the AMA) is probably more the riders' fault than anyone else. These guys need to be professional and call up and ask. Could it be better? Probably. But they have a group that is willing to listen. I tell young racers, 'Man, it used to be worse. You better believe it.' There was no way that you were gonna get heard in the old days. I think the AMA's a much better organization than it was. I think they are trying to be very straight and honest.'"
"In the ‘old days' Erik Buell wasn't the owner of a major manufacturer, just another one of us ‘unprofessional' racers. Whether the AMA has improved from Erik's 'bad old days' is a point of debate, but to blame a lack of communication on the riders because they didn't ask is incredulous. ‘If they don't ask, we don't tell' is a stupid policy that only a bureaucratic organization like the military (or the AMA) could devise."