Edmondson isn't wasting any time. His first hire was Colin Fraser, the owner of the Canadian Superbike Championship, which sanctions and runs the Moto-ST series. Roy Janson, who worked for the AMA during the Edmondson years, is expected to join the DMG after retiring from his post as director of operations for Live Nation. Edmondson, Fraser, Bill Syfan (who formerly ran the Formula USA series) and Tom Bledsoe, the Grand-Am Chief Operating Officer who is one of the DMG owners, scheduled meetings with each of the four Japanese manufacturers for early April. Afterward they plan to meet as a group at the next round of the AMA Superbike Championship at Barber Motorsports Park. Fraser will assume control of the officiating at that race, although his work began-unofficially-in Daytona.
The '08 Daytona 200 will go down in history as one of Honda's darkest days. Erion Honda's Jake Zemke was knocked out of contention by human error: One of his mechanics fitted a sprocket to his first replacement wheel that was a tooth off. When the team couldn't fit the axle, they had to park Zemke for a lap while his teammate Josh Hayes came in for his pit stop. He finished 13th. Neil Hodgson, in his first ride for American Honda, was a secure second when he shattered a big-end bearing, breaking the connecting rod with less than six laps to run. The reported cause was repeated downshifts at 16,500 rpm; it was the third engine he'd blown up that weekend.
Teammate Miguel Duhamel fried his clutch at the start and pitted at the end of the first lap to swap to his spare bike. Was this legal? Not? according to the rulebook (a rider is able to swap during the first three laps only if the race is stopped due to a red flag), but the on-site AMA official said it was, and Duhamel was sent on his way. When senior race officials were informed they decided to allow him to finish because the AMA had made the mistake. "That changed when they got ahold of me," Edmondson says. "I have to admit on that one, I was in the tower when word got around that they were looking at this, and then the call came upstairs. I said, 'You must black-flag him. You cannot knowingly let a participant be riding in illegal circumstances. He's risking his life and the lives of others. You'd be completely indefensible, and there's absolutely no way you can justify it to the other teams. So you might as well address it now and at least take the risk away from Miguel as quickly as you can and try to minimize the situation. But you made a mistake; you've got to 'fess up to it, and the quicker the better.'" That was about lap 44, and it took six more laps before Miguel pulled in.
Erion Honda's Jake Zemke (98)...
Erion Honda's Jake Zemke (98) was in contention for the Daytona 200 victory, but a sprocket mistake caused problems on his first pit stop and he was forced to wait until teammate Hayes finished his first stop before the team could fix the problem. Zemke eventually finished 13th.
Erion Honda's Josh Hayes triumphantly...
Erion Honda's Josh Hayes triumphantly hoists the Daytona 200 trophy. His joy lasted about six hours until his Honda CBR600RR's engine was found to have an illegally modified crankshaft and he was disqualified. The Erion team is filing an appeal.
American Honda's Miguel Duhamel...
American Honda's Miguel Duhamel (17) fried his CBR600RR's clutch at the start of the 200 and was forced to pit a lap later. His crew switched him to his backup bike in the mistaken belief that it was legal, but it wasn't. AMA officials couldn't decide whether to pull Duhamel in until he'd completed 44 laps; needless to say he wasn't happy.
"I felt so bad for Miguel," Edmondson says of one of the few riders who raced during his first tenure in the AMA. "He had a chance of winning that race, and frankly I think it probably had an effect on him in the Superbike race, too, because he put in all those laps. It was amazing, though; it was an incredible ride." As was that of Erion Honda's Josh Hayes.
The Mississippian had 32 seconds in hand when he crossed the finish line at the end of 69 laps of the new 2.90-mile road course. It would have been a bold reversal of fortune for Honda, which only a year earlier had been humiliated by fuel-starvation problems on the quartet of American Honda and Erion Honda machines. Instead it was even greater humiliation. About six hours after he took the checkered flag Hayes was disqualified. The offense was an illegally modified crankshaft.
It was clear that the crankshaft had been altered-eyewitnesses said it looked like it was chrome-plated. Yet a decision on a penalty dragged on in the tech shed until word reached AMA Senior Vice President of Racing Dennis Rhee. Rhee was in the France family suite high atop the grandstands watching the race with Edmondson, Dingman and others. The question was whether to penalize Hayes then or wait until they got back to the AMA offices in Ohio. Edmondson told Rhee, "?'I don't know what your system is, OK, but it seems to me the quicker you act on these things-if you're sure of everything-the better it is for everybody. Because there's going to be an appeal, and you just need to get out of it, but you'd better be sure.' That was it.
"I guess the courtesy to me was that there was the potential that any appeal might roll over and turn out to be held on our watch. But I'm encouraging [Rhee] to deal with this as expeditiously as possible. The rulebook certainly gives the appealing party a certain amount of time, and it requires that the AMA do things in a certain amount of time, and I said, 'You need to move post-haste.'?"