Is the AMA bad business for electric motorcycle racing?

So here I go again, simply musing a bit.  So don’t take this as gospel, just something to think about.  I talked with Azhar Hussain of the TTXGP this morning for quick little update, and to see if I could some news on what is going on over there, across the pond.  Azhar was tight lipped, as I expected.  Clearly he has learned his lesson about talking to me.  We will hear something sometime in January.  Basically the TTXGP has nothing to report until whatever they are working on either goes through or doesn’t.  But he said one little innocent thing while talking to him, that got me thinking.

Holding a TTXGP event during another major series weekend, such as the AMA, seems like a no brainer.  Tons of bike fans to expose your new series too, and numbers to make sponsors and teams happy because of all the exposure.  Yeah, well, not so fast.  The problem then becomes not getting swallowed up in the event.  Not to mention announcers and staff that know nothing about the bikes, and/or don’t take them seriously at all that cause logistical problems and confusion for the audience.  More fairly, there must also be a certain factor of the learning curve involved in trying understand these machines, the series, and just remembering that there is now yet another series/class/race to juggle in the schedule.  And then there is track time.  Not much of that going on at these big events for the TTXGP teams.  So how much exposure is really happening?

Then lets take the AMA’s schedule.  After a firestorm of grief from the press the AMA finally put the running of the AMA road racing series up for bid, and the DMG won.  The press then, and still, raised a major stink over that.  Before the DMG even had a chance to even hold it’s first race.  Nuts, right?  Anyway, things have been a bit shaky from time to time.  VIR in 2011 is a prime example.  Only about a month before the race weekend was supposed to go off, VIR announces that there will be no race there.  Something about the DMG never signing a contract.  Either way the race weekend was canceled.  The TTXGP had already canceled two events of the proposed 5 in 2011 (PIR and NHIS), and now they were having a third race yanked out from under them through no fault of their own.  The TTXGP rallied and got in with AHRMA at Miller Motorsports Park, which has continued to be a strong relationship.  Fortunately, 2012 seemed to go off with little issues as far as track were concerned.  But at the end of October the other AMA race weekend struck.  The motorcycle industry as a whole took a hard hit when the economy faltered, and from what I heard attendance during the Moto Jam weekend had been declining over the past few years.  So, the folks at Sonoma have decided to not run the AMA weekend.  And with out the AMA it seams there wasn’t enough going on to keep the event going.  Instead we get Corvette historic racing.  Oh yeah. Let me contain my excitement.  oooo

At least we all have had proper warning, but it’s business.  The AMA got another weekend at Laguna Seca, so it’s not going to affect them really, Sonoma has their Corvette weekend with a reported 400 cars, but the TTXGP is left scrambling a bit.  This type of thing happening for a young series is at the least a royal pain in the ass, and at worst devastating.  And for me, how am I supposed to compare lap times next year?  But, in all seriousness, this will make Laguna Seca an even more significant track, because it will be the only race that the elmotos have raced at every year since 2010, and the only real measuring stick.  Either way, it seams to me that pairing with the AMA/DMG for a weekend is really not worth the risk, or even the reward.  I am left wondering what this says about the AMA series, if anything.

Until the TTXGP grows to a size where it can pull enough of an audience to be their own “headlining act” they need to partner with series that are much more stable, and I suspect this will be club racing.  I think it really is a good fit.  Races are the same length, would show the power of the elmotos, and this could encourage club series to incorporate elmotos into their rules and maybe give the local elmoto guys a chance to run up against the “big dogs”.  All while growing electric motorcycle racing.

So while there are positives, there is one serious negative.  Racers.  Many of the riders we have seen as of late have been AMA professional racers, and schedule conflicts have arisen over the past few years.  As teams take this more seriously this could all but eliminate current AMA pros from TTXGP seats.  Meaning that the riders are going to  have to prioritize one series above the other.  Or that if TTXGP teams want current AMA pros they are going to have to fork out some dough.  The one advantage is that there aren’t as many seats available in the AMA paddock as there once was, and we could see more reitred-ish type riders like Thad Wolfe, Miguel Duhamel (not retired,) and Eric Bostrom racing in the series.  Honestly, that is even better.

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