The discourse in AMA paddock is palpable. From 2013’s surprise revelation that AMA Pro Road Racing’s TV package would not cover all the events, to 2014’s complete lack of television coverage, there have been serious questions raised about DMG’s ability to market the premier road racing series in the United States.
A constantly dwindling calendar of events has caused many to wonder about DMG’s ability to organize race weekends, as this year’s provisional five-event calendar was marked with the absence of any races west of The Rockies (the motorcycle industry’s sweet spot), a move that would cause John Ulrich of Roadracing World to start his own three-event “Superbike Shootout” series (Laguna Seca would later be added to the AMA calendar as a sixth event).
This year was also marked by an exodus of top-level teams (Michael Jordan Motorsports and Erik Buell Racing), as well as marquee sponsors (The Army National Guard and GEICO).
Just recently torrential rain, a field of Superbikes on slicks, and not a red flag in sight caused a dust-up just a few weeks ago at Road America, resulting in a modest investment in publication ink regarding the officiating at AMA Pro Road Racing events, especially in regards to rider safety.
American road racing has long been in decline, but never before has the frustration with the series been so evident across the series’ stakeholders of riders, teams, sponsors, fans, and journalists. The malcontent is evident whenever the subject is broached.
No one can say for certain what form American road racing will take for the 2015 season, but things do not seem to be taking a positive direction with DMG’s ownership of AMA Pro Racing.
American road racing is in serious danger of fracturing if the Superbike Shootout continues, and it could legitimately collapse altogether if DMG continues operating the way it has to date. As if that wasn’t enough, a third option is waiting in the wings: Dorna.
We first saw mention of the MotoGP and World Superbike media rights holder’s interest in the United States road racing scene come from Larry Lawrence, and like any good gossip in the AMA paddock, Lawerence gave the information the appropriate treatment of skepticism and cynicism.
There is after all something amusing about the state of American road racing reaching such a lowly state that American fans are actually excited about the prospect of Dorna Motor Sport’s involvement with the series.
The rumors haven’t stopped circulating though, and our sources have intimated Carmelo Ezpeleta’s desire to run the big show on US soil, with a twist. According to the people who we have talked to, Dorna’s involvement would actually see the creation of a North American Championship that would include Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.
This NAFTA of motorcycle championships would serve not only to help Dorna’s interests in cultivating talent from North America, but would also presumably side-step any legal entanglements with the litigiously quick French family that runs DMG.
A glimpse at Dorna’s work with the Spanish national championship shows the media company’s success at this level of sport, with the CEV being perhaps the top feeder-series for riders hoping to enter grand prix racing.
From a business perspective, the idea of a North American championship is intriguing, and there could be some interesting sponsorship opportunities for brands that deal heavily in these three countries.
The move could also be a stepping stone for Dorna into the South American market, a location the Spanish company is keen to get a foothold in for its MotoGP and World Superbike properties.
A lot remains to be seen from this rumor though, and from American road racing in general. Again, the very fact that we’re talking about this rumor shows the state of the sport.
If true, who would have thought 10 years ago that a European company could control AMA Pro Road Racing. And if false, it just shows the level of desperation for motorcycle racing fans and stakeholders here in the United States. Either way you look at it, it’s a scary proposition.
Source: Bothan Spies