Updated: Tentative Soft Barrier Deal From Almost Three Years Ago Gets Dirt Track Community Wound Up

Updated: Tentative Soft Barrier Deal From Almost Three Years Ago Gets Dirt Track Community Wound Up

© 2004, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.


Copyright 2004, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

A tentative deal that couldn’t happen almost three years ago due to contractual conflicts has showed up as a hot topic on a dirt track website this week, with a healthy dash of distortion.

The way the story is told on the Internet, AMA Pro Racing turned down an offer by Ford to buy half-a-mile (about 2800 linear feet) of Airfence or similar soft barriers for dirt track use, plus a tractor-trailer to haul it around, simply because Chevy sponsored the AMA Superbike Series.

In fact, the AMA Pro Racing contract with Chevy at the time included the promotional rights to AMA Pro Racing motocross and dirt track, although Chevy didn’t do anything with the dirt track rights, while Ford sponsored dirt tracker Chris Carr. So when a Ford executive asked about buying half-a-mile of Airfence for dirt track use, with the idea of putting the Ford logo on half the sections, AMA Pro Racing explained that the deal couldn’t happen for contractual reasons, and preliminary discussions ended. Because AMA Pro Racing dirt track loses substantial money and is subsidized using money AMA Pro Racing gets elsewhere (i.e., from the Chevy deal), AMA Pro Racing could not simply blow off the Chevy contract in favor of the tentative (but never formally proposed) Ford soft barrier idea. And the question of who owns signage rights at dirt track venues also complicated the tentative deal.

Meanwhile, racers, mechanics, crew members, sponsors and fans donated enough money to the 501(3)c non-profit Roadracing World Action Fund, Inc. to deploy over 1700 linear feet of soft barriers for AMA Pro Racing road racing use, while dirt track racers, mechanics, crew members, sponsors and fans have donated enough money to deploy less than 300 linear feet of soft barriers for AMA dirt track use.

With the Chevy contract up for renewal this year, anything could happen, so stay tuned…

More, from a phone interview with Chris Carr, the current and five-time AMA Grand National Flat Track Champion, who rides for his own Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford-sponsored team: “(Ford) were going to buy about a half-mile of it (inflatable barriers). Ford wanted to be able to put their name on half of it and allow the AMA to sell the other half to whoever. And it was declined because Chevy was the official truck of flat track,” Carr told Roadracingworld.com.

As far as Chevy’s involvement with AMA flat track racing, Carr said, “We haven’t seen anything. AMA will put their spin on it, obviously, but we don’t see any executives from Chevrolet at dirt tracks. We don’t see them promoting the sport of flat track despite the fact that they are the so-called official truck of flat track. We haven’t seen any rewards from their association with the AMA.” Carr also said Chevy does not put up a promotional product display or even Chevy banners at flat track events.

“It’s my understanding that when Chevy was in negotiations with AMA on their contract for outdoor motocross and Superbike that flat track was thrown in as a bonus to Chevrolet. That’s my understanding. They may say differently, but that’s what I’ve been led to believe,” said Carr.

“I know it’s a big news story, but I know AMA and Ford are somewhat in negotiations, potentially, for next year. I’d hate to see a bunch of damage because of something that happened a couple of years ago and hurt the opportunity for good things in flat track. But I know you guys have got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Carr also sits on the Board of Directors of the Roadracing World Action Fund, whose mission is to prevent racetrack injuries through education and promotion of racetrack safety, specifically through the use of soft barrier technology.

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