The Sale Of Ama Pro Racing To the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) evokes a number of reactions, not the least of which is irony.
Longtime race fans remember Roger Edmondson. Edmondson created the Championship Cup Series in the '80s before moving on to run the AMA Superbike Championship as a subcontractor. But dirty tricks by the AMA-at one point the hard drive was stolen out of his computer-ousted him in the mid-'90s, triggering a protracted legal battle. In the end Edmondson received a $3-million-plus settlement, which seems like a lot of money but wasn't. Not after the legal fees, lost wages and emotional damage were done.
"I loved motorcycle roadracing for years," Edmondson said at a packed news conference in the Daytona International Speedway media center just prior to the Daytona Supercross. "It was not only something I did, it was who I was. And when the disagreements came up with the AMA and we ended up nose to nose as litigants in court, it was more than just a financial issue with me. It was really a destructive time of my life. I can recall walking through the paddock and having friends avoid eye contact and turn the other way, because they were fearful that association with me at that tense time was going to affect their ability to follow their passion. And that's because we all love this."
There was enough urgency to have the announcement made at Daytona that it was done before the deal was officially consummated. But it was the appropriate venue. After his AMA battle Edmondson landed on his feet with the help of Jim France, the son of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. France is a former dirt-tracker and the quiet force behind NASCAR. When France needed someone to get his sports car series off the ground, he called Edmondson. That series-the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, which began with one event, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona-now has 15 races with stops in Mexico and Canada.
AMA CEO Rob Dingman engineered...
AMA CEO Rob Dingman engineered the sale of the Pro Racing entities as part of his program to switch the organization back to a member service association. Whether it will be successful in drumming up flagging membership remains to be seen.
When AMA CEO Rob Dingman put AMA Pro Racing properties, consisting of roadracing, dirt track, motocross, supermoto, ATV and hillclimb, up for sale, France was interested. Edmondson was put in charge of the RFP (request for proposal) process. Initially the group was only interested in the promotional rights to roadracing, the most financially successful of the AMA properties (Supercross draws more spectators and has greater television viewership, but those promotional rights and most of the profits go to Live Nation). But the DMG, which consists of five individuals, upgraded its offer to include all properties. At that point it was the most natural fit. Rather than dealing with separate entities, the AMA could sign one contract and walk away while keeping its name on the championships. The DMG would then subcontract the various series to whoever it felt had the best offer.
Most of the factory Superbike team bosses came to the Daytona news conference, and they didn't necessarily like what they heard. The teams had spent last summer hammering out a set of more restrictive technical rules for 2009, and the Yoshimura Suzuki team had already begun incorporating some of the changes. Asked if those rules would be honored, Edmondson was unequivocal.
"I do not plan to blindly honor those rules-I do not," he said. "I need to review them. I haven't even read them. It might turn out they're the best set of rules in the world, and if they are, we'll adopt them. But I don't think we can know that until we get a little bit more time on the ground. I think it's going to be important that we again talk to the stakeholders, the teams and the manufacturers and get their read on it. Our vision for Superbike may turn out to be different than that set of rules, and if it is, we'll adopt our vision and go from there. But again, we need to make sure that we do so understanding the issues and the unintended consequences of any decisions we take."