MXA WEEKEND NEWS ROUND-UP: TIME TO LEARN THE TRUTH, BEFORE THE FOG OF WAR TAKES OVER
HOW THE FIM GOT CONTROL OF AMERICAN SUPERCROSS
No one involved in the Supercross wars of 2001 was fighting for the sport, the riders, higher purses or safer tracks. They all wanted the dollars that came with the butts in the seats. The FIM was just a way for the promoters to keep the money.
Where there is money, there are people willing to play for keeps. Back in 2001, the AMA and Clear Channel, then the promoting group of Supercross, engaged in a civil war over who would run Supercross. The AMA had been the sanctioning body for the vast majority of Supercross races held in the United States since the very first one on July 8, 1972. As the sanctioning body, the AMA was the ombudsman for the riders, rule book and sport. Its job was to look out for the best interest of the sport, ensure fair competition, protect the riders and run the races. A sanctioning body should act as the middleman between the spirit of the sport and the realities of the business aspects of the sport.
Clear Channel was the promoter of 15 of the 16 AMA Supercross rounds (albeit under names like Pace Motorsports, SFX and Live Nation over the years). A promoter’s job is to hold the races. The race promoter makes the majority of his money by selling sponsorship packages to energy drink bottlers, motorcycle manufacturers, software developers, tire companies and automobile firms. They also reap the benefit of selling tickets, souvenirs and concessions to live audiences.
The sanctioning body makes its money by charging sanctioning fees to the promoter, collecting gate money for rider entries, charging for AMA Pro licenses and selling title sponsorships (in competition and conflict with the race promoters, who also want to do the same thing). It is in the area of title sponsorship that sanctioning bodies and promoters most often come to loggerheads.
THE 2001 SUPERCROSS CIVIL WAR
The 2001 Supercross civil war came about when the AMA and Clear Channel were unable to come to an agreement on a future contract (the then-current contract expired at the end of the 2002 season). The sticking points were profit sharing, sanctioning fees and sponsorship rights. Clear Channel said that it didn’t need the AMA and would run its own Supercross series. In response, the AMA declared its intention to run its own Supercross series head-to-head against the Clear Channel-promoted series in 2003.
Clear Channel’s advantage in the battle was that it had agreements with most of the major stadiums and arenas in the country and experience holding Supercross events. On the AMA side of the war was a big club called “fiduciary rights.” This legal term became very important because, as interpreted, it said that the motorcycle manufacturers who were members of the AMA Board of trustees could do nothing that would harm the AMA—because as board members, they had a “fiduciary responsibility” to support the organization that they governed.
On one hand, you had a promoting group that had the stadiums wrapped up, and, on the other hand, you had a sanctioning body that had the riders and factory teams caught in a legal conundrum. One thing that everyone who was involved on the rider and team side of things in 2001 knew was that the promoting group should not be the sanctioning bodies. Why not? If a decision had to be made that meant more money for Clear Channel or an improvement in the riders’ well being, the promoting groups would always look out for their bottom line. It’s no secret that previous Clear Channel management teams abused their power, brow beat privateers, banned the press and were anything but benevolent to the sport.
Their heavy handedness eventually culminated in the 1995 Las Vegas rider strike and their attempt to have Jeremy McGrath banned from the sport. And to make the point clearer, MX Sports added a new rule to the 2020 rulebook that says “Any Credential Holder that unreasonably or excessively publicly criticizes and/or disparages AMA Pro Motocross, MX Sports Pro Racing, AMA Pro Racing or its Officials may be considered to be acting in an unsportsmanlike manner prejudicial or detrimental to the sport in violation of these rules, and accordingly subject to penalties.“ Nobody wants absolute power in the hands of a corporation because they have proven over the years that they can’t be trusted with simple things freedom of speech.
By the same token, sanctioning bodies should not promote races. Their job is to look out for the welfare of the riders, integrity of the sport and long-term future of all involved (and that includes Supercross and AMA National sanctioning bodies). They can’t do that when they are money hungry.
THE PRE-PRE 2001 CIVIL WAR
The 2001 Clear Channel-versus-AMA civil war was not the first time the AMA and a promoting group got in a battle. Ten years earlier, the AMA tried to take over a road race series from the promoter who developed it. They got tagged for $3,000,000 after the promoter’s lawyers were through with them (and the circumstances were remarkably similar to the 2001 Supercross spat).
On the Supercross legal front, history shows that arguing is part of the deal. In 1984, the Supercross promoters broke away from the AMA to form their own series. The hastily assembled Insport series and its AIR sanctioning body only lasted for a short time—but the record books are a mess because of it. In 1984, Jeff Ward won the AMA Supercross title (a two-race series), while Johnny O’Mara earned the 15-race Insport crown.
THE AMA SUES THE RACE TEAMS IN 1982
Additionally, the Big Four manufacturers were sued by the AMA in 1982 when the factory teams pulled out of the AMA Trans-USA series to race the non-AMA sanctioned CMC Trans-Cal series. The factory teams lost that lawsuit because as members of the AMA Board of Directors, they were bound by “fiduciary responsibility” to support the organization they directed. The manufacturers had to pay the AMA a settlement.
Back in 2001, Clear Channel started locking up long-term exclusivity deals with several major stadiums, including Anaheim, Dallas, Phoenix and Minneapolis. The goal was to keep the AMA out.
THE BATTLE THAT GOT THE FIM INVOLVED IN SUPERCROSS
As for the AMA, it signed a contract with Chicago-based entertainment group Jam Sports to become the promoter of the proposed 2003 AMA Supercross series. Jam Sports took the job seriously and began rounding up whatever venues were possible Supercross sites. The AMA and Jam Sports’ plan was to hold as many 2003 Supercross events as possible on the same weekend as Clear Channel’s events—with the knowledge that the factory teams would have to race with them. Psychologically, they also knew that the Japanese corporate bosses saw the AMA as the one-and-only motorcycle organization in the United States and, most important, the official federation of the FIM (International Motorcycle Federation). Since the Japanese manufacturers field more than just American motocross teams, the AMA was their one-stop shopping association.
No sport, no matter how strong and powerful it thinks it is, is immune to collapse. The AMA/Clear Channel discord smacked of the CART/IRL fiasco. And, if you know anything about Championship Auto Racing, you know that both series were demeaned by their bitter fight. The powerful CART turned out to be the surprise loser, but Indy Car racing never returned to the glory it had before the nasty breakup.
THE SUPERCROSS PROMOTER’S LATERAL ARABESQUE
It didn’t appear as though the AMA and Clear Channel could resolve their differences without going to court. But, Clear Channel had an ace in the hole. An outside promoter, who worked for Clear Channel, told his bosses that the solution to their problem was to skip over the AMA and sanction the 2003 Clear Channel Supercross series with the FIM. Since the FIM was the world-wide sanctioning body of all motorcycle racing (and the AMA was an affiliate of the FIM), if they became an FIM-sanctioned event, the Big Four manufacturers could race with Clear Channel without violating their fiduciary responsibility to the AMA—because the AMA was under the FIM umbrella.
And that is how the FIM became the sanctioning body for the AMA Supercross series. Beaten by the FIM trump card, the AMA had to return to sanctioning the Clear Channel Supercross series and give up its Jam Sports plans. Clear Channel had outsmarted the AMA.
However, Jam Sports didn’t take it lying down. Jam Sports accused Clear Channel of illegally using its entertainment industry might to scuttle Jam Sport’s bid to promote Supercross racing by intimidating stadium owners (and Jam Sports had Clear Channel memos to prove their case). In January of 2005, the jury awarded Jam Sports a $90 million judgment against Clear Channel for anti-competitive behavior. And that’s the short version of how the FIM got involved in American Supercross.
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BE THERE! RIDE THE SWAMP AT MUNTZ CYCLE PARK
This 1973 race poster was for Muntz Cycle Park in Moorpark, California. It was owned by Earl “Madman” Muntz, who was a famous SoCal businessman who sold TVs, stereos and appliances with his wacky “Madman” personality on TV. He owned Muntz Cycle Park for two years before he sold the 450 acre property and it was renamed Valley Cycle Park.The Muntz Jet today sells for $100,00 at auction.
Muntz Cycle Park was located on what was known as the Fillmore Freeway (Highway 23) at the Tierra Rejada exit. Muntz had his own car company and marketed the Muntz Jet from 1949 to 1954. The car sold for $5500 in 1953, but it cost $6500 to produce. Total production was only 190 cars.
MXA PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: FASST COMPANY KTM/HUSKY REAR BRAKE SPRING KIT
The pedal resistance can be adjusted by how much preload is placed on the spring. No more on-and-off. Eliminates broke OEM brake springs.
Fasst’s rear brake pedal return spring kit consists of spring, spring bucket and nut. Retail price $19.95 at www.fasstco.com
1985 CMC TOP-100 EARNED NUMBERS: WHO’S STILL RACING 35 YEARS LATER
Yellowed and faded this is a time capsule back to SoCal racing from 35 years ago. Click on the image to make it larger, and they click on the arrow in the upper right hand corner to blow it up even bigger, but it won’t make it much easier to read.
This wrinkled results sheet from 35 years ago came in an email today. It shows the top 100 CMC Pros, CMC Vet Masters and CMC Over-40 Masters. Although the type has faded, the names of the riders bring back memories and friendships from the 1980s. See if you can spot anyone you know.
When we first looked at the list we were struck by the first two names on the Pro list—Doug Dubach (#1) and Pete Murray (#2). Both are still racing today as are Ian Fitz-Gibbon (#5), David Clement (#7), Dave Eropkin (#9), Craig Canoy (#20), Jim Chamberlain (#66) and Andy Jefferson (#74). Eight out of 100 Pros isn’t too bad after 35 years.
In the Vet Master top ten, there are three riders who are still racing today. They are Jody Weisel (#1), Gary Jones (#2) and Carl Gazafy (#9). Given that they had to be at least 30 years old back in 1985—they are all over 65 now.
As for the top ten Old Timer Masters, none of them are still racing, but there are notable names on the list: Number one was Bert Wehr, he was from Sweden and was a Rolls Royce mechanic, Number 5 was Alan Olson, who went on to win 9 World Vet Championships between the Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 classes and was the AMA Mechanic of the Year when he wrenched for Chad Reed at Team Yamaha. Number 7 was Alan’s older brother Marvin Olson (the famous Movin’ Marv) and Number 8 was Tommy Pearl.
KTM WILL REOPEN ITS FACTORY AND START PRODUCING 2021 MODELS ON MAY 11
KTM and Husqvarna shut down their Austrian factory back in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They sent as many workers home as possible (which meant that 3800 KTM employees in Austrian were working from home, not working at all or working a limited schedule since March). It didn’t help that many nations, including the USA, stopped cross border travel—which meant that no KTM engineers or test riders could travel to the USA. One of the biggest issues for KTM’s Stefan Pierer was not the problem dealing with the virus in their small Austrian town, but the fact that their supply line of certain Italian made parts was cut when Italy went to a total lockdown.
Due to the resumption of production by KTM’s Italian supplier (and some creative outsourcing by KTM during the interim), motorcycle production will start on Monday May 11, 2020 for a one week set-up phase and bikes will roll down the lines in full operation on May 18, 2020.
Surprisingly enough, even with the pandemic, dealer sales across the globe, have given KTM/Husqvarna a positive outlook for the 2020 sales season. Sales reports from the major U.S. motorcycle distributors have also been very upbeat.
GODSPEED! ALPINESTARS FOUNDER SANTE MAZZAROLO (1929-2020)
Sante Mazzarolo, founder of the Alpinestars brand, passed away at his home in Italy, at the age of 91 after a long illness. The Italian was the driving force behind the fusion of technology and design in the field of motorcycling and motorsport competition clothing. The Alpinestars name comes from the English translation of the Italian mountain flower Stella Alpina (Edelweiss), which grows high in the mountains where the company was founded.
Rising up from a simple leather craftsman, Sante Mazzarolo founded Alpinestars in 1963 by making hiking and ski boots. But the sport of motocross came calling and Sante answered the bell with quality boots used by Roger DeCoster, who would become a lifelong spokesman for the brand. As Sante continued to run the family business from Italy, he trusted his son Gabriele Mazzarolo, to guide the international growth of Alpinestars with expansion into a full line of protective gear. The Sante Mazzarolo heritage will be carried on by his children, Gabrielle, Lucia and Gloria
RYAN DUNGEY MAY HAVE RETIRED, CAME BACK AND QUIT AGAIN, BUT NOW HE’S COFFEE MAGNATE!
Ryan Dungey last made news by coming out of retirement to take a ownership position with the Geico Honda race team, but to puled dout of the deal a few months later, but now he’s back. No, no back racing. He plans to introduce his own brand of artisan coffee, called RD Coffee, this summer.
Ryan says, “Welcome to RD Coffee! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always been a coffee lover. It’s the simple things in life that bring me so much joy, like having a cup of coffee with good company. After traveling the world and trying many different varieties of coffee, I developed an appreciation for great tasting coffee. With more time on my hands post racing, I’ve dedicated myself to the process of roasting specialty grade coffee. My hope is that RD Coffee can bring you the same joy and inspiration that coffee has always brought.” For more info go the www.rdcoffees.com.
CLASSIC VIDEO: DAVE BICKERS PRACTICING IN THE SNOW
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2020 CANADIAN NATIONALS HAVE A BAIL-OUT PLAN
Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Series – The health and wellness of our staff, spectators and athletes are paramount, with this, Jetwerx and MRC have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation over the past 3 weeks. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that event organizers and planners postpone in-person gatherings where proper social distancing measures would be difficult to implement and maintain in Canada for the next 8 weeks, in order to delay and reduce community transmission. They would like to stick with their original schedule, but if that isn’t possible they would go to the shortened schedule below (with a 3-moto format with Moto 1 on Saturday and Motos 2 & 3 on Sunday).
REVISED 2020 CANADIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
July 11-12…Courtland, ON
July 18-19…Ottawa, ON
July 25-26…Moncton, NB
Aug. 15-16…Walton, ON
Sept. 5-6….Deschambault, QC
MXA PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: CYLINDER WORKS 2019-2020 HONDA CRF350 CYLINDER KITS: STOCK, HI-COMP & 270cc
Cylinder Works cylinder kits for the 2018-2019 Honda CRF250 are now available at your local dealer Cylinder works offers a full line ofof kits including Standard/Stock 13.9:1 compression kit ($459.95), 14.6:1 High Compression kit ($499.95) and 270cc Big Bore kit ($559.95). Each of kits comes complete with the new cylinder, piston, rings and gaskets. For more information about Cylinder Works cylinder kits please call (515) 402-8000 or visit www.cylinder-works.com
HAVE YOU SEEN THE JUNE 2020 ISSUE OF MXA? IT’S LIKE A 16-INCH-WIDE PHONE
Aren’t you tired of looking at awesome motocross photography on the tiny little screen of an iPhone, while holding it at odd angles to figure out what you’re looking at. Get the real deal and see those giant spread photos at 9-inches by 16-inches and live a little.
If you subscribe to MXA you can get the mag on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle or Android by going to the Apple Store, Amazon or Google Play or in a digital version. Even better you can subscribe to Motocross Action and get the awesome print edition delivered to your house by a uniformed employee of the U.S. Government. You can call (800) 767-0345 or Click Here (or on the box at the bottom of this page) to subscribe.
WHERE THE 2020 AMA SUPERCROSS SERIES STANDS NOW!
The first 10 races of the 2020 AMA Supercross series will count, but the following seven were canceled. The Supercross promoters have a tentative plan to complete the missing 7 races at one stadium over a three-week period, but even that is in doubt.
The plan is to replace the canceled Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Denver, Foxborough, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City rounds by holding seven hurry-up races at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The races were planned to be held on Friday and Monday nights as Made-for-TV events with no spectators allowed in the stadium. Originally scheduled to start on May 15, the latest word is that the promoters are backing the starting date up by two weeks to May 31 (and may run more than two races a week). However, it is conceivable that even that might not be possible given the unpredictability of the coronavirus. If they did start late in late May the first two rounds of the AMA National Motocross Championships could be in jeopardy. If the Supercross series can not be finished in late May and early June, then they could fall back to September and try again.
WILL THE 2020 AMA NATIONALS HOLD RACES WITHOUT SPECTATORS?
The answer is no! MX Sports is the body of record for the outdoor Nationals. They collect a series of fees from each track that can adds up to a very hefty tariff that the race track must pay. Plus, the promoter has to pay the $70,000 purse money. When you add up all the fees, purse money, cost of security, personnel, equipment rental and diesel fuel, it is hard to even break even on a nice sunny day. A rainy day can wipe out any profit.
The race tracks only source of money is from ticket sales and small sponsors (that don’t conflict with MXSports’ sponsors). MX Sports has the rights to all the big sponsors and bring their own T-shirt concessionaire. Thus, without spectators, the race tracks could not afford to host a National. And without the race tracks, MX Sports would not be able to fulfill the promises they made to series sponsors.
6D HELMETS SPRING 2020 SALE ON UNTIL MAY 31
6D Helmets is offering discounts on all of their helmets, with free shipping, hassle-free returns and buy now pay later plans. This sale will run from now until May 31, 2020. Below is a sample of some of the offers—many of these helmets are available with the same designs, but in different colors combination.For more information go to www.6dhelmets.com