Yessiree gang, we have got some strange times heading our way. Professional roadracing in America seems to be taking a detour. I have written and podcasted about the changes happening and the dissatisfaction that riders and manufacturers have about those changes.
Let's do a quick recap; AMA sells off the racing division to Daytona Motorsports Group figuring they can do a better job of promoting racing. Who is DMG? For one, they own NASCAR. NASCAR is second only to the NFL in popularity here in the states. DMG changes the name to AMA Pro Racing. APR proceeds to talking about changes in the class structure and rules. The Big Four (Honda,Kawasaki,Yamaha and Suzuki) cast a wary eye and start backing away. Some riders are quite upset at the structure, we all know that Matt Mladin is pretty peeved and has said he won't ride under the new structure and others are just hanging around to how the dust settles.
Next, final class structure and rules are set out. We all know that Suzuki was not happy from the very beginning, the other three were still somewhat sitting on the fence. Dunlop becomes the the only tyre supplier to AMA Pro Racing, that's OK, spec tyre rules seem to working for World Superbike and Formula One..it's been adopted by MotoGP...so that's the trend. No big deal. But wait..there's more?!
Every December, Dunlop holds the Annual Tyre Test at Daytona Motor Speedway. Everybody that uses Dunlop shows up and works with the newest latest and greatest from Dunlop. Factory teams and privateers. New bikes in plain clothes, test mules and young hot shots hoping to impress the factory teams, a big event in American roadracing. This year was a little short on participants. Kawasaki decided they didn't like the new rules and decided to boycott the event, Honda and Suzuki went along. Only Yamaha committed to the event. Recently I had spoken with a representative from Yamaha and he was a little concerned that Yamaha had stuck their neck out pretty far. Eventually Honda decided to go. But...Honda factory pilots Miguel Duhamel and Neil Hodgson didn't have contracts for the 2009 season, Erion Honda Superbike rider Jake Zemke was there riding with a 'Gentleman's agreement'. Weird huh?
A week later Honda announced that they were pulling out of AMA Pro Racing for the 2009 season! Honda cited economics. They said they would continue support of the Erion Racing and Corona Racing teams, but as a factory team they would not be racing. Do you really believe that 'Global Economics' is the reason Honda has pulled out? I don't. I think it is an easy way make a statement, to thumb their nose at AMA Pro Racing.