The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) is fighting to keep things together in the United States. The AMA is losing young guns Like James (The Rocket) Rispoli for pastures new, which harms the U.S AMA Roadracing series. We are losing sponsors like the National Guard because of a basic decline in numbers.
Wider audiences and much more sponsorship available in Europe are a huge attraction for young riders and are a prime example of how we are going to lose our best racers to Europe and the bigger stage.
Michael Jordan Racing (Michael Jordan Motorsports and 23race.com) have been in the AMA Superbike and Supersport paddock for ten years. They are now looking at the world stage in 2015 because the audiences are not big enough to warrant sponsorship from the likes of the National Guard. The National Guard sponsor race teams to simply get soldiers to sign up to the National Guard, they need the exposure. Over the last few yeas with the lack of TV coverage and cancelled race dates it affected the whole industry and sponsors have lost out.
Even one of the most respected bike builders in the U.S Erik Buell and his EBR team are moving away to the world stage and World Superbikes (WSBK). I understand why EBR are going. The exposure in that class trumps anything we can do here with the AMA. Erik has the backers with the world stage watching, and a beautiful new American Motorcycle to show off.
British and European motorcycle racing has much more “clout” than U.S Motorcycle racing. People follow it. People fill the stands and the circuits to see any type of professional racing, even on a cold day in Kent, South of London at Brands Hatch. They even run two configurations of that circuit, the Indy and the GP to deliver two dates on the domestic calendar and a third the GP round in October. I could’t see three rounds at Mid Ohio or Road America could you?
Why do we here in the United States struggle to fill the grandstands at the likes of Daytona in March? Theoretically, the start of the season should be a huge journey to the mecca of racing, shouldn’t it?
The reason is TV coverage, we really don’t have any. We need more shows, we need more media support. With the new media revolution coming upon us with online footage and forward thinking production companies, we should see excellent new content very soon. MotoGP does a fantastic job of controlling their distribution. They have the platform and the power to make TV happen, that’s what we need at the AMA.
A divide in motorcycle riding here in the U.S is a contributing factor. Having such a difference in peoples perception about what you ride here harms the sport. In Europe it doesn’t matter what you ride, a “bike-is-a-bike”. Sportbike, Harley, Dual Sport, Cruiser it does not matter as long as you ride.
Rider participation and interest is what attracts the crowd to the races. Here the consumer world of motorcycles is split which is not helping the AMA’s quest for larger crowds at live events.
To fill the seats the AMA should give ticket’s away so at least people go to see the racing in 2014. At every race meeting local charities should be provided hundreds of tickets to fill the events. Local businesses should be given huge discounts to use the racing as an incentive and a tax right off to get people into the stands. People like Michael Jordan only ever enhanced the sport but now he has gone it will really harm the attendance.
We have some very talented riders in the U.S. You only have to go to some Wera or CCS races to see some of the young guns carving around everyone on the track. These young up and coming potential champs need the Media. They need business owners of commerce here in the U.S to support them, and that will only happen with much more involvement from the motorcycle riding consumer.
James (The Rocket) Rispoli is a prime example. Everyone knows James is very talented. From his early days at Ant Racing then onto Celtic Racing/National Guard he has always been one of the life and soul riders of the AMA Pro Supersport paddock. Always fun to be round, and always pushing for that win or that podium position. Now we lose him in the 2014 season to the Europeans, and to no other then Great Britain an island the size of Texas. (I can say that I am from London)
Why has James moved and why is the British Motorcycle racing scene attracting our young riders? Circuits are tight sometimes short. It rains all the time. Being in Fife Scotland in June with the longest drive to any circuit from the South up the M6 through Birmingham is a daunting task.
The number one reason has to be support and sponsorship, followed by respect for the sport from the riding consumer. Brits ride to work. They ride every Sunday and motorbikes are just a way of life. Having the ability to go to a circuit and watch the racing live with copious fans and an electric atmosphere especially at the big events makes it all worth while. It’s not like standing in a paddock at Daytona realizing that the reason the seats look filled is because they are all painted different colors to blend in to look like fans. The banks of Brands Hatch are always packed full.
On the other side of the coin look at what the popular riders from the U.S take to Europe. James takes with him to Team Traction Control owned by Prodigy lead singer Keith Flint, Monster Energy, Suzuki, Motul, S.J.M Concerts, Sound Moves, Fly by Nite, Doodson, MotionPro, Samco, Bell helmets, Rev'It! and Techmount to name but a few.
He has the support from his career in the U.S and you know if he wins the British Supersport championship in 2014 he can then make it to the WSBK. But why did he choose the British rounds against the natural feeder to the AMA Superbike series that he racing in last year, the Go-Pro Daytona Sportbike class? He finished 7th overall a very good first full year effort, he was even higher than another guy that tried the European program Jason DiSalvo, so why didn't he stick around?
It has to be the ability to get on the world-stage. He has much more chance of being noticed and recognized to his full extent within a universe of motorbike/cycle lovers than he does in a country where the riding community is still divided.
So this year let’s make a change and let’s all support our riders and come to the opening round black porn at the Daytona International Speedway on March 13-15. You never know we make enough noise and the AMA might give tickets away. One thing you can guarantee is that the racing is always exciting at the Daytona 200.