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Thread: US Road Racing Splits - or - The Alphabet Soup Wars

  1. #1
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    US Road Racing Splits - or - The Alphabet Soup Wars

    Road Racing Splits in the US ‘«Ű or the alphabet soup wars

    In a press conference during this year‘«÷s Daytona Race Week the AMA announced it was turning over control of road racing in America to the DMG. Reactions were, at best, mixed.

    Many have been frustrated with the stewardship of racing by the AMA for years. The upheavals in the AMA only served to exacerbate this long term undercurrent.

    Enter DMG. The links to the France family racing promotion experience would seem to bode well yet there is a long history going back to Bill France being part of the reason it has taken years for MotoGP to return to the U.S.

    While all of this was being digested the Motorcycle Industry Council acts as a legal place for some of the manufacturers to get together and talk about starting their own series. I some because it seems Ducati and BMW were not part of the discussions. Yamaha may have been part of the discussion but for right now is holding out and appears to be ready to stay in the AMA/DMG series.

    Track and race promoters were called to talk with MIC about their plans and the reception was lukewarm. How could they put together a viable program in time for the next season? Were they serious or was this just a bargaining tactic as it has been in other forms of racing, F-1 comes quickly to mind.

    This has been muddling along for months while the AMA race stewards have been sanctioning racing teams for a variety of infractions related to homologation of parts in winning race bikes. Post race tech inspections operate under seemingly arcane set of rules. As an outside observers you are left to wonder is this a last fit of due diligence on the part of the AMA or a case of sending a message to the manufacturers.

    All of this and a bit more brings us to 10 September, 2008 and the formal announcement by the MIC that it is launching the USSB Championship for 2009.

    If you are a fan of drama and conspiracy the next year could bring a race season for the ages. If you are a fan of racing it may well rank up there with an outbreak of the Black Plague.

    America may be the largest market in the world for large capacity motorcycles. Racing in the U.S. needed to change hands. But can it really support two major race series?

    Other sports have gone through start ups to see them join in the end. The NBA and the ABA joined. The NFL and the AFL joined. But those were truly cases of startups meeting excess demand resulting in a logical future merger.

    The model we may be looking at is more like IRL/Cart. They split, divided a weakening fan base and now are coming back together. Life is not good however. The fan base was split and is weaker as a result. The teams are struggling with decreased revenues and increased expenses because of the split and changing rules.

    Whatever the year brings it officially started with the following press information.

    Motorcycle Industry Council To Launch The USSB Championship
    IRVINE, Calif., Sep. 10, 2008 ‘«Ű The Motorcycle Industry Council, the national trade association representing top motorcycle manufacturers and 300-plus other members, will launch a new professional road racing series next year in the United States.

    The MIC has formally established USSB, Inc., and already is at work creating a national championship for 2009 that will take place at major racing facilities, feature factory superbike teams and rules similar to those now in place ‘«Ű rules encouraging technological development that advances motorcycle engineering.
    The USSBSM Championship is being designed to carry on America‘«÷s tradition, spanning more than two decades, of world-class superbike racing that showcases the nation‘«÷s best riders on the best motorcycles in the country. The premier class, U.S. Super Bike, will invite teams running the highly developed, factory-backed, fan-favorite racing motorcycles (1,000cc fours and larger-displacement twins) that have long been the basis for superbike racing. The inaugural USSB series will include U.S. Sport Bike, a 600cc category similar to the World Supersport Championship and others.

    ‘«£We initiated USSB because next year it will offer the only racing series in America for unrestrained factory superbikes and their teams, as well as those who aspire to join their ranks and compete with them,‘«ō said MIC President Tim Buche. ‘«£We recognize the strong support for this level of racing, among enthusiasts, among manufacturers and among riders. With the other series set to abandon superbikes as we‘«÷ve come to know them, USSB will fill that void.‘«ō
    Buche said the MIC engaged in a development process for USSB that takes into consideration the various needs of industry members, manufacturers, track owners, sponsors, racing fans and riders, as well as the desire to grow the sport of road racing. In particular, there is a need to allow manufacturers to use road racing to advance research and development and improve future production motorcycles available to consumers. Buche said that the MIC possesses the resources, the capabilities, the access to talent, and the ability to contract with various groups and firms, to meet all of those needs and wishes.

    ‘«£This is America, a big country with a big motorcycle market that deserves a world-class championship with full-on factory bikes raced by star riders,‘«ō said Ty van Hooydonk, USSB managing director. ‘«£The USSB Championship is our answer. We want to steer away from engine restrictors, away from mandated power-to-weight ratios, spec tires and spec ECUs. We want to set the stage for racing teams to compete, on the track, in the R&D shops, in the way they develop their bikes and help develop production bikes, in how they develop their engineering staffs and crews, and their riders, too. Let them do what they do best and go racing.‘«ō

    The not-for-profit MIC has established USSB, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, to be the owner-operator of the series. As the sole shareholder for the subsidiary, the MIC board will appoint the USSB Board of Directors that will then function independently and guide the series.

    To maintain the integrity of the competition, USSB, Inc. also will establish an affiliated, but independent sanctioning body, USSB Sanctioning, Inc., which will employ the series commissioner, a racing CEO who will have ultimate responsibility for all competition-related aspects of the series. USSB, Inc. will serve as the series promoter responsible for developing series sponsors, managing series communications and partnering with stakeholders and others to present the series.

    Four stakeholder groups will each have a voice and participate in series governance: riders, manufacturers, sanctioning and promoters.
    USSB will help establish a riders association that will then operate independently as it represents all of the on-track competitors in the series. Participating manufacturers will form their own committee through the MIC and represent factories. Sanctioning will oversee tech inspection, rules and regulations and will manage race organization and administration. Promoters will include individual promoters and a racetrack association in collaboration with USSB, Inc.

    Marketing and Communication
    ‘«£We‘«÷re going to have a compelling story to share,‘«ō van Hooydonk said. ‘«£The USSB Championship will feature the nation‘«÷s top level of motorcycle racing, with phenomenal riders capable of competing in any league, and high-tech superbikes that are among the fastest on Earth. We have a great deal of experience with marketing the story of motorcycling, and we will apply all of it to road racing.‘«ō USSB news and updates will be available 24/7 at USSBCHAMPIONSHIP.COM. The site will be live Friday September 12, 2008.

    USSB, Inc. will establish a communications campaign to improve visibility and interest in road racing, include all types of media, and bring in new fans while maintaining its enthusiast base. For 20 years, the MIC has generated major mainstream media coverage through Discover Today‘«÷s Motorcycling. DTM promotes responsible riding by generating positive print, broadcast and online coverage, and through a responsive news bureau that annually fields thousands of inquiries from journalists nationwide.

    DTM staff regularly work with national media, based in New York and other key markets, on dozens of motorcycle stories every year. Recent DTM placements include coverage with ‘«£Good Morning America,‘«ō the New York Times, USA Today, Popular Mechanics, Maxim, Playboy, and even La Opinion, the nation‘«÷s largest Hispanic newspaper. DTM generated major media for the landmark ‘«£Art of the Motorcycle‘«ō exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and hosted its own ‘«£Rockefeller Center Motorcycle Shows,‘«ō seen by tens of thousands of visitors in Midtown Manhattan.

    MIC Background
    The MIC is a not-for-profit, national trade association with its executive office in Irvine, Calif., and a government relations office near Washington, D.C. The MIC preserves, protects and promotes motorcycling and the motorcycle industry. This is accomplished through government relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, and activities involving technical and regulatory issues.

    The MIC also:
    ‘«ů Conducts the ‘«£census‘«ō of motorcycling, the MIC Owner Survey, which is the most comprehensive demographic look at American motorcyclists.
    ‘«ů Tracks new-unit sales through its Retail Sales Report.
    ‘«ů Created Partners Standard Protocol (PSP) which defines industry standards allowing dealers to exchange business data with suppliers from within their dealership management system. PSP is currently implemented in powersports and other industries
    ‘«ů Hosts the annual MIC Communications Symposium, bringing together MIC members and a variety of nationally renowned experts on the economy, new business opportunities and American psychographics.

    The MIC represents more than 300 manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV parts and accessories and members of allied trades.

  2. #2
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Q & A

    1) What is The USSB Championship Series?

    ‘«£The USSB Championship Series‘«ō will be the premier professional road racing series in the United States. Racers will include both world-class riders and upcoming stars. USSB is a factory supported pro-level series. It is designed to feature many brands, to attract the best riders, to develop and employ the most advanced technology the industry has to offer, with the nation‘«÷s fastest bikes, all at traditional racing venues. In addition to providing the highest level of road racing in the country, which hard-core enthusiasts will appreciate, USSB will attract new fans through marketing efforts that will generate mainstream media coverage and also directly reach out to consumers.

    2) What classes will we see in The USSB Championship Series?

    The premier class, U.S. Super Bike, will invite teams running the highly developed, factory-backed, fan-favorite racing motorcycles (1,000cc fours and larger-displacement twins) that have long been the basis for superbike racing. The inaugural USSB series will also include U.S. Sport Bike, a 600cc category similar to the World Supersport Championship, among others.

    3) What are the 2009 Rules?

    When finalized, the rules will be substantially similar to the rules used for the 2008 AMA season. In future years, the intention is to develop rules compatible with World Superbike and other national superbike series around the globe, which will encourage innovation and technological development, yet reduce manufacturing and testing costs involved in creating different-spec bikes for different series.

    4) Why did The USSB Championship Series need to be created in the first place?

    The AMA road racing series was sold to the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG).
    When initial reports of DMG‘«÷s plans for the series became known, many of those with years or even decades of racing experience voiced concerns that the series failed to meet the needs of riders, road racing enthusiasts, motorcycle manufacturers as well as gear, performance parts and other aftermarket suppliers. Rather, the plans seemed primarily focused on a radical alteration in motorcycle racing limited to severely restrictive motorcycles in place of the branded racing that stakeholders prefer. Numerous industry participants were concerned that unless key needs and expectations were addressed and improvements made, the AMA series as outlined would not serve the best interests of the sport and would severely limit their ability to participate. The USSB Championship Series is committed to addressing these key industry concerns.

    USSBSM was developed by a team of industry veterans committed to carrying on the true tradition of U.S. superbike racing and producing a championship series that is exciting beyond great racing, which is a given. Manufacturer participation in the series will promote innovation and new technology that will ultimately find their way to production motorcycles. USSB will not restrict motorcycles to highly specified configurations and it will be the only series for unrestrained superbikes and their teams. USSB will focus on racing that best promotes rider safety, competition and innovation, racetrack attendance, television coverage, electronic viewership and ridership.

    5) What is the operating structure of The USSB Championship Series?

    The operating structure is based on several other successful series operations and best practices within professional racing. USSB, Inc. will be governed by executive management and a Board of Directors and will be responsible for promotions and communications, ensuring that the series remains responsive to the changing demands of technology and consumer preference. USSB, Inc. also will create an affiliated, but independent sanctioning body - USSB Sanctioning, Inc., which will govern the competition and employ the Series Commissioner who will be responsible for all competition-related decisions.

    In addition, four stakeholder groups will have a voice and participate in governance, similar to other series such as MotoGP:

    1. Riders Association representing the interests of all the on-track competitors.

    2. Manufacturers Committee representing factory interests and consisting of representatives from manufacturers fielding factory teams in the series.

    3. Sanctioning responsible to oversee tech inspection, rules and regulations and will manage race organization and administration.

    4. Promoters including individual promoters and a group representing them in collaboration with the USSB, Inc.

    A Race Direction Commission and a Rules Commission, consisting of representatives of each stakeholder group, will be formed to contribute to series direction.

    6) With manufacturer, sanctioning body, promoter and rider input into USSB, won‘«÷t it just be run by committee?

    Input from all stakeholders is vitally important in order to produce world-class events. It is critical that riders, manufacturers, sanctioning body and promoters are working together towards the same goal ‘«Ű producing the premier U.S. road racing series. But the Series Commissioner, who is in essence the series CEO, will have the ultimate authority and final say on all competition-related issues in The USSB Championship Series.

    7) Isn‘«÷t this just the two-wheel version of the damaging split between the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League?

    While initially the situations may appear to be similar, actually it‘«÷s really like comparing apples and oranges.
    With the auto racing series, team owners were having difficulty making money and thought a breakaway series controlled by the owners would rectify the situation. Motorcycling‘«÷s top teams are in the sport to market their brands, and to do so, manufacturers want to continue to spend money on racing. That‘«÷s a major difference.
    On the auto racing side, the ownership of the most important racetrack and the biggest race in the series, Indianapolis, wished to purchase the entire series and change its direction. In the case of superbikes, the industry, the manufacturers, the riders and the fans all want to maintain the level of unrestricted racing currently enjoyed and build on it.
    There has been no call for heavily restricted superbike racing, other than from the AMA series new ownership. The teams of the manufacturers and their supporters want to go racing. They don‘«÷t want to manufacture the racing.

    We may see no split among the major teams between the various series because USSB is the only series designed to meet the needs of major teams. However, teams always have the option to participate in USSB and other series. At USSB races, superbike racing fans can expect to see factory rider stars on the factory bikes on many of the familiar tracks, watch them on TV and read about them in their favorite enthusiast publications and Web sites.

    8) What is the 2009 schedule and what tracks will host the races?

    USSB will seek dates on many of the same tracks AMA has raced on in the last few years. We expect the 2009 series to run from April through September. Updates and news about the series can be found 24/7 at the USSB Championship official website

    9) Who is the managing organization for USSB? What qualifications and experience do they have?

    The USSB Championship Series or USSB is owned and operated by USSB, Inc., a subsidiary of the Motorcycle Industry Council. The MIC is a not-for-profit, national trade association created to promote, protect and preserve motorcycling and the U.S. motorcycle industry.

    As an industry association, the MIC is uniquely qualified to leverage its more than four decades of industry experience to help create, operate and produce USSB. MIC staff and a team of experienced industry veterans conducted the initial work on USSB. USSB, Inc. will retain additional professional staff to handle race operations, sanctioning functions and promotion services as needed.

    10) Why did the MIC get involved in this?

    The MIC was not looking for any direct involvement in racing. However, MIC has been associated with racing for many, many years since great racing events in this country serve as an impressive venue for industry business activities. They can be a draw for the major mainstream media that motorcycling needs to progress, and also for the celebrities who can help promote the sport and are now ‘«£media‘«ō in their own right.

    But since the AMA series is headed away from decades of American Superbike tradition with a radically changed series formula it is time for the MIC to become more involved.
    Many years of effort by factory teams, from mechanics to crew chiefs, to engineers and designers in faraway R&D shops are at risk of being simply wasted. America‘«÷s best riders, and the competitors who came here to race against our best, all of whom had developed powerful working partnerships with these teams, faced an uncertain future. Several of the country‘«÷s most respected professional riders spoke out loudly against these sudden changes. Some talked about leaving to race overseas.

    Even teams who had not recently won the Superbike championship, or even a race over the past few years, expressed the view that they did not want to lose the current racing formula. They wanted an opportunity to rise up and beat the defending champions with the existing rules left in place. They wanted to show that they had the ability to build stronger teams and develop faster riders. They wanted to continue to race, under the current rules, for the challenge and for the sake of pride. The desire to compete is part of their corporate DNA and the top superbike riders and teams could be ranked among the best in the world. They are that skilled, that accomplished.

    There are a good number of factory, manufacturer-supported teams in today‘«÷s Superbike series. There are four full-factory teams now racing and not long ago there were five. The manufacturers spent millions upon millions of dollars supporting these teams, and additional money sponsoring individual races across the country. By the manufacturers‘«÷ own words, the new AMA series was not going to meet their companies‘«÷ needs.
    And reaction among most fans, as judged by letters to enthusiast publications and Web sites, was almost universally negative. They said they wanted to see the best riders on the fastest bikes. Many of them stated that they did not want to see, either in person, or on TV, highly restricted bikes, or what they feared would be glorified club racing.

    The AMA Superbike Championship, as we have known it through 2008, may not be ideal. But there was no MIC interest in developing another road racing championship until it was clear the AMA series would no longer exist as it has been known.

    11) So the motorcycle manufacturers are doing their own racing series, then?

    No. This is a common misperception. The Motorcycle Industry Council is initiating USSB on behalf of its members. This is the industry starting its own racing series, which will be independently operated.

    12) Can the MIC really pull this off?

    Absolutely. The MIC will start and nurture an entirely new and independent enterprise, USSB, Inc., with the sole mission of owning and operating the nation‘«÷s premier road racing series. USSB, Inc. employees, board members and business partners will be selected for the expertise they can bring in promoting and operating this racing series.
    We believe there is no better entity to start a proper motorcycle racing series than the industry itself. No one can know motorcycle racing better than motorcyclists. No group has more at stake or will care more about achieving success. The MIC has but one motive: Improving the industry. Accomplished by promoting, protecting, preserving.
    Note that the industry has strived toward nearly 15 years of rapid growth. Motorcycle sales in the early 1990s were a quarter of what they are today. The industry worked extensively to turn around the generally bad image of motorcycling that existed 20 years ago. Media coverage two decades ago was almost universally negative. Today, motorcycle industry representatives are welcomed inside the offices of the biggest media outlets in the country. The motorcycle industry can count among its friends more CEOs, celebrities and Capitol Hill officials than ever before.

    Meanwhile, American road racing has not enjoyed similar levels of growth and increased awareness.

    13) What does the MIC have to gain?

    The 300-plus MIC members and their thousands of employees and all of motorcycling in America stand to gain much from a successful national championship road racing series. The MIC is a not-for-profit association that works on their behalf. A great deal of business is accomplished at world-class racing venues, which can serve as the backdrop that attracts major media, corporate and celebrity involvement in motorcycling, not necessarily just racing. And the showcases that great racing venues provide also help generate a lot of consumer sales and can inspire new riders. Win on Sunday; sell on Tuesday when the bike shop opens.

    USSB, Inc. was established specifically to create a sustainable, popular superbike championship that will benefit many across the industry.

  3. #3
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    So what does this mean to us?

    So what does this mean for BMW racers and more importantly what does it mean to fans of racing in the BMW MOA and the association itself?

    If we are honest we must admit we don‘«÷t know. There are a series of questions that need to be answered.

    Is this a bluff or is it real? For 2009 it is real. If anyone expected the departure of the AMA as the sanctioning body would be seamless transition they were living in something of a dream world. With the USSB Championship on the table now it will be even more complicated.

    What manufacturers will follow the MIC and what the quality of support for their teams will be determines what kind of show the tracks can put on. The better the show the more money they can make. Track days, club racing and local events pay the property taxes and some of the bills. Big tracks depend on big events on just a few weekends to make the profits that keep tracks alive for the long haul.

    BMW has not announced anything that I have found by the time of this posting. Their plan remains to compete in the World Superbike Championship beginning in 2009. The S1000RR is being developed to those standards. To the extent there are differences between the series the longer it will be before BMW factory teams compete on US soil in US races.

    The key element in the USSB Championship press release may be in the Q&A, particularly #3

    When finalized, the rules will be substantially similar to the rules used for the 2008 AMA season. In future years, the intention is to develop rules compatible with World Superbike and other national superbike series around the globe, which will encourage innovation and technological development, yet reduce manufacturing and testing costs involved in creating different-spec bikes for different series.

    The 2008 AMA rules may keep BMW out and focused on WSBK. If the rules can be brought in line with the WSBK in 2010 and beyond then I believe you will see a factory type team on the track in the US.

    For the non racer hyper bike street rider all of this makes no difference. BMW is committed to the WSBK. Homologation rules for that will mean we will start having access to the street version of the racing bike sometime about 2010. For the rest of us the technological benefits from racing will trickle down through the product line.

    INTEMONT is coming. BMW put out a press notice inviting the press to the new model presentation and letting those of us that can not be there know when the related press kits will be released. Expect a great deal of buzz around the S1000RR and its specifications. The rumors continue to put performance in the 190 hp and 190kg range for the race bike. Even a detuned street bike is going to be a bike that will have the power to rip the Stich off your back. The big thing for the street rider / buyer is we will find out what BMW meant when they promised the S1000RR would be competitively priced with other bikes in the Superbike class. Is that pricing closer to Honda‘«÷s or Ducati‘«÷s?

    INTERMOT will also give us more of an idea if the rumored 675 triple is real or just a rumor. The rumored bike is a result of the FIM rule changes to balance 2, 3 and 4 cylinder bikes allowing, in reverse order, more cc capacity. The speculation is BMW will have a 675 to compete with Triumph‘«÷s 675 particularly in the European markets.

    If the 675 is real it could have a big impact on the MOA. This triple is not going to be a latter day reincarnation of our favorite K75S. No this is going to be a chip off the fire breathing S1000RR. Priced right it will be a bike that will bring a new breed of younger riders to the Roundel and potentially the MOA.

    The prospect of these younger, sport oriented riders does not bother me. What bothers me is my wallet may not be able to fold open wide enough for either bike while at the same time my body may be to big for it to fold up and get on one of these bikes.

    The ability of either of the new sanctioning bodies to run successful series that allow BMW to compete in them and WSBK will play a big part in how important the new BMW bikes, real or rumored, too the US market.

    We ride in interesting times.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mika View Post
    We ride in interesting times.
    good reporting and analysis, john.

    as an avid cyclenews reader, i've been following this as it developed.

    the dmg guys want close racing with lots of riders on the grid. they're going with 600s and nascar-type "equalizer" rules as their main show.

    the mic people are more attuned to what sells the most in the usa market. butt... they are going to allow a lot more exotic bike, which means big money will be required to win. this will reduce the number privateers on the grid and *may* compromise the quality of the show.

    hard to say. all i know is that the way the ama/mic guys have worked together in the past has led to different classes, each with rules skewed to support a particular manufacturer, so that all manufacturers can win something... and then brag about it in our ads.

    i wonder what roger edmundson's response will be to all this?

    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
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  5. #5
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    What will Ednundson say?

    That will be interesting but keep if you are a fan of racing keep your eye on the prize. The first prize in all of this and the key to the eventual outcome for American racing will be what will the promoters and track owners do?

    As interesting as the tussle will be between the two groups and the implications for product development the divergent sponsoring body rules will be to us as racing fans and motorcycle riders the key in all of this is what will be their reaction? In my readings nobody has raised the question of the law of unintended consequences.

    The racing market place competes for the finite discretionary dollars and time of fans that have a growing number of other options. Given the choice between the two motorcycle groups and promoting another cage race of some form will they choose the latter?

    Second place goes to sponsor dollars. Where will they go? In this I am combining what we think of as traditional sponsor dollars and advertising revenue. WSBK and MotoGP exist in large part because they have found formulas to their racing that attracts sponsor revenue in the form of advertising on the track and advertising revenue on TV for their sports. This continues to turn the wheel of racing and attracts more fans which justifies and attracts more sponsor dollars.

    Will either of these sanctioning bodies be able to do enough dollar development to keep a viable product on the track?

    The third and final podium position to keep an eye on is what does this mean for the long term life of racing in America. I really enjoy gymkhana events. They are fun to watch and fun to participate in. However; you find them in parking lots or on YouTube in videos shot by fans, not on major tracks or SpeedTV. As a fan of American motorcycle road racing I fear we are headed into the Gymkhana Years.

    So again what does this mean for us as riders and the MOA? In the short term we as race fans will have more venues to pick as destinations to ride to in order to see motorcycle racing in person. They may not be the ones we road to in the past but that‘«÷s okay.

    As to BMW, the product is in the pipe. The implications I made earlier remain. It is just a question if we will see BMWs new products racing on a track in a sanctioned event or at a gymkhana first. That remains an open question.

    The new products from BMW have the potential to breath new and different life into the MOA if we embrace them.

  6. #6
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    11,807 American Honda plans to race with the USSB

    No real surprise in that. They have been a major proponent and potential major beneficiary of the new series. KTM plans to road race with AMA in 2009

    KTM are the new kids on the block. The AMA/DMG series would allow them to shine without having to take on the big red wing. IF this series is around in 2010 would BMW follow them and compete toe to toe with its European rival? Kawasaki undecided on 2009

    Race on Sunday sell on Monday. If Honda is the ring leader in the development of the MIC series, as suspected, with the other manufactures that make their living biting chunks of market from Honda on Monday follow them on Sunday to the USSB?

    Edmundson did speak after the announcement of the USSB Championship. It‘«÷s a sad day.

  7. #7
    "van Hooydonk" Hmmm. Seen that name somewhere before ...

    Any relation to a guy named Adrian?

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