US Superbike Racing On The Verge Of A Revival? Rainey Takes Over AMA Series, DMG Relinquishes Rights

Motorcycle road racing in the US looks set for a revival after its years in the wilderness. Today, the AMA announced that the rights to road racing in the US have been reacquired from the Daytona Motorsports Group, and handed to a consortium led by Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland. The KRAVE Group will run a new series of races in North America from 2015, under the joint auspices of the AMA and the FIM.

It has been a long and difficult few years for motorcycle road racing in the US. Since the DMG bought the rights to the AMA Superbike series, at the start of the 2008 season, the series has been in a steady decline. Long-serving staff were replaced, circuits were dropped, classes were dropped, rejigged and renamed, and the manufacturers - or rather, the national distributors of the Japanese manufacturers - were either chased out of the series, or left over disagreements over the technical regulations. 

The series reached a low point this year, when the AMA Pro Racing Superbike series held a grand total of just six races. Making things worse was the fact that just one of those rounds was in California, traditionally a very strong base for motorcycle racing in the US. To alleviate the situation, Roadracing World's John Ulrich stepped in to organize the Superbike Shootout, a three-race series held in California and Utah, to offer road racers something approaching a fuller season. However, the AMA did not have a deal to televise the Superbike series, relying instead on live internet streaming of the events.

The decline of the series cannot be laid completely at the door of the DMG. They took over the AMA Superbike series at the start of 2008, a few months before the global financial crisis hit. That crisis had a massive impact on all forms of motorsports, and saw a great deal of sponsorship money evaporate. The actions of the DMG certainly exacerbated the flight of capital from the series: the changes in classes and sporting regulations alienated a good part of the fan base; and the technical regulations and the way they were handled caused conflict with a number of key manufacturers. The DMG continues to run the AMA Pro Racing Flat Track series, which has seen something of a revival under its tenure.

The plight of US racing caught the attention of both the FIM and Dorna, especially after Dorna took over the running of the World Superbike series. Without an influx of talent from the US, raising the popularity of both MotoGP and World Superbikes was hard, especially as the Americans in MotoGP have begun to retire through either injury or age. Ben Spies was forced to quit after a severe shoulder injury, Colin Edwards retired after the Indianapolis round, and Nicky Hayden's place in MotoGP is uncertain after radical wrist surgery. Only two Americans remain at the World Championship level: Josh Herrin is struggling through a miserable year in Moto2, while PJ Jacobsen has been the only bright note for the US, the American having an excellent debut season in the World Supersport series, scoring a podium at Misano, and currently seventh in the championship. If Dorna was to find any strong American riders, the US would need a strong road racing series.

There had been rumors that Dorna was working with Wayne Rainey on a new series for about a year, though the rumors only gained any real strength earlier this year. Those rumors came to a head at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP in August, at which a key series of meetings appear to have taken place. The FIM and Dorna had agreed a new championship with the American Motorcyclist Association, the only stumbling block being the DMG. It was feared that the DMG would block any move to take way its rights to road racing, and use its financial power to thwart any attempt to circumvent those rights.

Fortunately for US race fans, common sense has prevailed. The DMG has given up its rights to organize road racing, and passed them back to the AMA. Though the wording of the statements from both the AMA and DMG suggest that the transfer involved some form of financial compensation, the value of the rights were already greatly diminished during the tenure of the DMG.

The rights have now been transferred to the KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership which includes former 500cc world champion Wayne Rainey, former Team KR principal Chuck Aksland, Terry Karges, a former team owner, and Richard Varner, an entrepreneur and custom motorcycle manufacturer. The KRAVE Group will organize a North American championship under the auspices of the AMA and FIM North America. The series is to be called MotoAmerica, and appears that it may include races in both the US and Canada, as FIM North America represents the motorcycle associations of both those countries.

As to which classes will be raced and which tracks will be used, as yet, nothing is known. With the rights to organize a series now officially finalized, the hard work of building and promoting a series can begin. With less than six months to go before the US season's traditional opener at the Daytona 200, there is no real time to make radical changes. 2015 will likely be a year of transition, with larger changes coming in the future. The involvement of the FIM and Dorna suggests that the technical rules will once again be brought into line with World Superbikes, to allow teams and riders to transfer more easily from the US to World Championships. Whether the AMA goes to a Superbike-Supersport-Superstock format like World Superbikes, or a Superbike, Moto2 and Moto3 series, like the Spanish CEV championships remains to be seen. There were credible rumors from Indianapolis that Dorna favored the CEV model, but that would require a radical rejigging of the racing landscape in the US.

Although the task facing the KRAVE Group is momentous, they start off with one big thing in their favor: after six years of misery for the AMA under the DMG, the KRAVE Group is assured of the goodwill of US fans and everyone involved in the sport. They carry the hopes and dreams of US fans, teams and riders. Perhaps more significantly, they carry the financial support and interests of Dorna and the FIM, who have a vested interest in the MotoAmerica series succeeding. Things are looking up.

Below is the press release from the AMA on the new series, as well as a very brief statement from the DMG:


American Motorcyclist Association to sanction MotoAmerica's professional road racing series in North America

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association has announced that it will sanction MotoAmerica, a new North American road racing series. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time MotoGP champion, Wayne Rainey.

MotoAmerica will promote and manage the commercial aspects of MotoAmerica, which will be sanctioned by the AMA and FIM North America. FIM North America is the North American Continental Union of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, the international body for motorcycle sport.

The KRAVE Group is a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based organization that includes Rainey, the three-time 500cc World Champion (1990, 1991 and 1992) and two-time AMA Superbike Champion (1983, 1987), Chuck Aksland, a former racer and 20-year manager of Team Roberts who most recently served as Vice President of Motor Sport Operations at Circuit of The Americas, Terry Karges, a former motorsports marketing executive and team owner who spent 17-years at Roush Performance before being named Executive Director of the Petersen Museum, and Richard Varner, a motorcycle manufacturer, energy sector entrepreneur, philanthropist and businessman.

The KRAVE (Karges, Rainey, Aksland, Varner) Group owns commercial rights to the MotoAmerica Series, and will award AMA and FIM North America No. 1 plates to series class champions. The group will sell sponsorships, develop other commercial relationships for the series, secure tracks, create the calendar, process crew and media credentials and have responsibility for fan engagement.

"If you are an amateur or professional motorcycle road racer in America, if you are a fan of road racing or if you are a company that does business in this industry, this is an exciting day," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "Our goal has always been to entrust the promoting and commercial rights for professional racing to a talented, dedicated, well-capitalized professional entity, and the KRAVE Group certainly offers all that and more."

Rainey, an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer, thanked the AMA for facilitating the acquisition.

"The AMA was instrumental in this deal coming together, serving as negotiator and mediator at all points of discussion," Rainey said. "We appreciate the efforts of Rob Dingman throughout the process."

The Ohio-based AMA, the world's premier motorcycle advocacy group, will staff officials at each round of the professional series and develop an enforcement, appeal and rider license procedure. The AMA will be responsible for issuing professional road racing licenses for the series.

MotoAmerica, in consultation with the AMA, will develop classes, the rules of competition and event procedures. While details of the rulebook are still in development, classes and events will conform to prevailing international standards.

"The structure of our agreement with the AMA serves the goal of developing riders to be successful on the world stage," Rainey said. "It allows a framework that supports advancement from youth competition to novice, from novice to Pro-Am, from Pro-Am to National Championship contention and, for the best of the best, an opportunity to race for a world title."

The AMA, as the U.S. affiliate of the FIM, sanctions FIM-affiliated events in the United States. The AMA, along with the Canadian Motorcycle Association, administers FIM North America, which sanctions continental-level series and championship events in North America. The AMA also sanctions amateur motorcycle competition in America, a role the AMA has fulfilled since it was established in 1924.

"The AMA's roles as FIM affiliate and amateur sanctioning body make it a critical piece to establishing a clear progression for America's road racing community," Rainey said. "We're eager to build a fair, exciting and commercially viable professional road racing series not just for today's stars, but for those who will stand on top of the podium for years to come."

Dingman added: "The MotoAmerica/KRAVE Group has shown throughout the entire process that they have the best interests of the AMA and its members in mind. They not only accepted financial responsibility for the series, but the relationship requires the MotoAmerica Series to sanction its events with the AMA."

As part of the agreement, the AMA has re-acquired the sanctioning, promotional and commercial rights to professional motorcycle road racing in America from Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG), which had purchased those rights from the AMA in 2008. DMG has operated the series for the last seven years and is no longer going to be the promoter of the series.


Statement from AMA Pro Racing on the future of the professional road racing discipline

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 3, 2014) – The following is a statement from AMA Pro Racing on the future of the professional motorcycle road racing discipline:

“Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) confirms the transfer of sanctioning, operational, promotional and commercial rights for professional motorcycle road racing to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and KRAVE Group. Following the 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sept. 13-14, DMG no longer will conduct and promote the professional road racing discipline. The company will continue to sanction AMA Pro Flat Track, Motocross and Hillclimb.”

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Comments

This is the greatest news I have heard all day. I can't wait to see what comes of this change and I say good riddance to the DMG and their ignorance. They came in guns blazing telling fans they didn't know what good racing was and they were going to show us how to run a series well they showed us for sure.

Man, this made my month. Such epic news.

It won't be easy to rebuild what DMG has taken a few short years to tear down (and here in the US, that wasn't *that* much to begin with) but I'm hopeful that we can get racing here in the USA back on track.

Great news for the young guns coming up in the clubs around the country.

AWESOME! Finally we get some hope for survival in the US! I hope KRAVE is ready to roll up their sleeves, as this will be no small task. Everything from media exposure to sponsors to rider grids will have to be addressed - but I do have faith!

I would really love to see them coordinate the same weekend at Laguna as WSBK again. I would be even more motivated to make a week ride down to support the new series.

Cheers boys, you have your work cut out for you!

This is great news. I would love to have an AMA round here in Canada. I also think a partnership with the xgames is in order. The publicity, the sponsors, it could only be good.

The series reached a low point this year, when the AMA Pro Racing Superbike series held a grand total of just six races.

good news for us poor old yanks!

Why should we US fans be excited? Remember when DMG took over? (the press conference transcript comes up about once a yr on superbikeplanet!(cue the repost button Dean))Tons of hype, DMG! France family! Big Money! Dont they own NASCAR! Well we know how it turned out......

Almost 7 yrs later and we are all excited again about AMA roadracing. But why?

Heres why: A group of guys are taking it over who are ex-racers, legends, have contacts inside the WORLD of motoGP and the motorcycling industry. The past 7 yrs during the US roadracings death fans have turned to MotoGP or WSB. Those same fans now have realized "hey if Nicky leaves there really wont be an American left, The US series is shit so now what do I watch?"

It will take yrs to build the system we need or even respect like we did in the 80's. But at least we now have guys running the system who understand it. I hope I live to see the day where the road to the World Championship comes thru MotoAmerica and not the CEV...and i'm only 35!!

This is HUGE! Just the fact that the witch is dead is huge. DMG and CO have been part of ruining sportscar in NA, and Indycar. But they really saved the best for bikes.

Anything is a step up. Now I hope we see a real get behind them from all corners. Manufacturers,tracks, teams, former stars, etc etc etc. Make this happen!

I love the CIV idea. The racing is great there, and you need experience to get ahead in the world classes it would seem. So happy about this!!!

I hope they go the way of the Spanish championship. This would be a path to MotoGp and with a US moto2 class, well those riders can go to Supersort in WSBK as well. It's the better route.

Wayne has the clout. With Indy, COTA, Barber, Miller, Laguna, Road Atlanta, VIR, and a bunch more, there are enough tracks to make a decent series.

Excited!

Hooray!
Everything has been said re DMG and their tenure (not) at the helm. Easy act to follow, wonderful news, and Rainey is signaling a good trend in getting Superbike rules in line with WSBK ones. I had written AMA off a while back and didn't expect this in the slightest.
:)
About those rules...
I don't know what to prefer between Supersport-Superstock and Moto2-Moto3. Shouldn't AMA be as alike WSBK as possible and include their class structure? If we did Moto2 where would all those bikes and motors come from, is that even possible? Isn't it more feasible to do a Supersport 600 class so we can get our bikes via normal means? What is the CEV Moto2 like in terms of what bikes are allowed and where they come from? Surely a USA-wide 600 class wouldn't use a single manu spec motor would it? How then could we synch up with WSS? Would our national import/distributor folks so important in years gone by be onboard in supporting Moto2 with $? Please don't make me miss out on seeing all our middleweight manufacturers' bikes duking it out!

Call me difficult or idealistic, but I would like to see this:
AMA Superbike exactly congruent with WSBK regulations
AMA Supersport with 600's congruent with WSS
(Here is where I am getting weird) AMA Moto3/Lightweight Superbike - I have an dreamy wish that smaller production-based bikes could have a place in the national series, and an assumption that there just isn't enough of an interest or base of Moto3 bikes on grids in the USA to make it viable. It is, however, a great way to get the younger riders in the pipeline. What grids have swelled in the USA road racing clubs? 250 cup production bikes (Kawasaki Ninja's primarily). What sized bikes are selling a bunch? Same. Wouldn't Supersport rules on a 300cc twin seem rather handy in a country in which a Ninja 300 cup grid is already big, it happens to be half of a 600 inline 4 engine, Honda has one, there are a bunch of otger cheap popular lightweight bikes selling well, other parts of the world have a bunch of them we don't yet have in our market from other manufacturers, etc? Might they share a grid w Moto3 bikes if rules kept them performance equivalent? Moto3 is something like 150kg (330lbs) rider/bike minimum and a 50hp-ish motor isn't it? Is this the dumbest thing I have posted here yet?
:)
Hitting 'save' and going to look at Moto2 CEV rules, pondering Moto2 vs WSS rules, then HP and weight comparisons of Moto3 and Lightweight Supersport WERA just for ducks.

Well, to answer my own question - yes, the Moto3 - lightweight production bike mix is a pretty dumb idea. The Ninja 300 is 380lbs and 38hp stock. 1 star for you. I happen to agree w me on sentiment though, and on the 600 Supersport over Moto2 inevitability.
;)

This is excellant news, as it is not good for our sport to have weak national series - they should all be as strong as BSB and especially America with its population base.

Hopefully DOBAST* will get together and give the Australian Superbikes a similar kick in the pants! :-)

*Doohan, Bayliss, Stoner

So where will this leave Daytona?

BSB has no problem running BSB*2, BSS, Moto3, STK1000, STK600 in one day. There's really no reason why the AMA shouldn't as well. The choice is not between WSB/Moto2/3 and WSB/WSS/STK when you could do both. The only question is where the mid-size formula goes and if it's something like STK600 and a WSS/Moto2 that allows custom frames. Then there's tyres. Who gets the spec tyre contract because you know there will be one.

Now can the FIM/Dorna use this to get some more parity between WSB, IDM, BSB, AMA, AJR and Aus. Let's get back to competitive local wild cards in each WSB round.

Which leaves the huge elephant in the room. How do they make it cheap enough and entertaining enough to attract the sponsors so that there are full grids of competitive teams?

Hopeful and optimistic, yes ! Skeptical, yes! The more big names that throw their name in the hat the better ! Nicky ? Colin ?Ben ? Boz Brothers ? Duhamel ? etc. where ya'll at ?

Good opportunity for some of the guys who did well out of the AMA in the old days to help give the series a heart starter.. Edwards, Mladin, Spies etc

I guess my comments tie into where AMA will take their series based on this recent development.

After seeing MotoGP and WorldSBK through the darker years, post cigarette sponsors and during the GFC, I always wondered whether a superbike series at a domestic level was required, given the cost and relatively low fan base compared to the premier events on the calendar.
Having grown up in Australia, i'd make trips to local NSW circuits to watch the former ASBK, (which still exists at some level) and Formula Extreme (which I think is more like SuperStock and also exists) and most of the time was pretty disappointed by the lack of the depth in the field and the forgone conclusions to races after the first few laps. I’m pretty sure Yamaha had some say into the running of the series and took a couple of their riders to Formula Extreme. Why a country of 22 million has two premier motorcycle classes is beyond me...
To dan.gerous, the only time i've seen Doohan's name mentioned around Australian motorcycle racing is when he gets an interview in the Honda Corporate Tent at Philip Island in October... Mat Mladin was supposedly meant to do something with unification of the two series, but I don't think anything materialised.
While I can appreciate that there are always some characters out there who can buy a 2014 FIM spec Superbike or Superbike Evo, the majority of the field cannot. Also, do the ticket buying public (usually pretty hard-core fans if they are watching at a domestic level) really care if the two richest guys in the field can buy a full spec bike and watch races spread out after the first lap? While other, potentially better riders are languished back to tussle for minor placing due to financial constraints.

So my roundabout diatribe leads me to what AMA (and Australia) should do as far as a domestic series. If they wanted an out of the box solution, why not ask BSB “can we use your model?” and implement it there. At least just as a starting point. Surely a series which captures almost as much interest locally as MotoGP does must be doing something right.
Is a superbike evo class really required? I would argue that at a domestic level, the focus should be on the riders and costs for bikes should be kept to a minimum; what would fans prefer – a reduced grid with a couple of official FIM Spec bikes at the front dominating the races or a full grid of slight detuned machinery where more riders can win. What would riders prefer, money on bikes being the guaranteed winning formula or riding skill being the deciding factor.

Having classes which have relevance internationally is a good step as well. Giving local riders the ability to wildcard at premier rounds is increased as there is a parity between the domestic classes and the WorldSBK / MotoGP rounds that visit the US. I’m not saying that they need to wildcard in a MotoGP race, but if there was a series on parity with SuperStock or SuperStock 600, the local riders get a chance a couple of times a year to pit themselves against international level riders.
This is massively important to developing local talent and getting fan bases behind local riders.

If it about getting bums on seats as well, then having some level of integration with motocross (i.e. combined weekends) might be necessary in the development years to get things back on track.

It seems like on this forum alone, there are enough good ideas and minds to run a decent championship ;-) Too many times, corporate sponsors, television rights and massive egos get in the way of the sport, only for it to end up where it has, both in the US and in Australia…
I’ve got myself fired up… where is my pitchfork and flaming torch!!

...rather than have a race series that often seems like it exists merely to support a semi-reality tv show. Maybe if they pull this off and build a real and competitive series, Larry can come race WERA vintage with all us other old guys.

... good riddance DMG!!!

Oh, and can we get rid of Rob Dingman while we're cleaning house? He's done NOTHING good for the AMA!

... road to real success and popularity for roadracing in North America, this is a huge win for fans, teams and promoters.

As tempting as the CEV model is, I really don't think it's achievable in the US where running a relatively simple Supersport program is difficult enough to pay for.

While some sort of class for young kids is a must, I wonder if a solid Supersport and Superbike class structure is the best way to begin restructuring the series.

The WSBK spec model has been tried here recently and drew a complete blank from the Japanese (and their U.S. arms):

http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/dmg-no-factory-superbike-in-2009-ame...

The BSB model relies on strong "satellite" financial support (non-manufacturer but industry-related), and that infrastructure is not only non-existent in U.S., but because of the size of the U.S, that support has to be much greater. You're not going to have shops and/or dealerships running Superbike teams here. And you cannot forget that in BSB, the series does not require the tracks to pay a sanctioning fee; the series is promoted by the tracks; and the riders don't get paid shit. It is an entirely different financial model that cannot simply be picked up and transplanted.

The "cheap bike" model pissed off a LOT of fans here (and I wonder if it's not part of WSBK's darkening outlook).

Glad that DMG gave up, but we have fundamental problems here, no matter who is at the helm. This is no magic fix. I can see a financial path to success, but it's iffy.

Sometimes I wonder about the viability of a National Superbike series at all. Does anyone run a National Formula One series, with cars anywhere near the specs of a modern F1 machine? Or more to the point, how many MotoGP (or even WSBK) riders have come through a National Superbike championship at all?

I'm not sure we need to create this series from scratch: a lot of what worked well in the Mladin-Spies-Hayden era can still work here. What is missing in the current discussion is support from the manufacturers. Their backing, in the form of rider contracts, race weekend title sponsorships (Honda Supercycle Weekend at MidOhio),
team support (Erion Racing), and PR is vital. Yes, the class structure needs to mesh with their need to sell certain models, so they get a seat at that discussion table, but they also need to see how our series has to provide the clear upward path into the Dorna series and their class structure, so we'd be crazy to stray too far from the WSBK model. BTW, the inclusion of Canada into this new series is brilliant. I am not familiar with the safety of their tracks, so I hope they are up to snuff.

well i really hope they go the cev format, to have United states kids in the moto3 , and moto2 class would be incredible. man i hope they go that route.

That was a great article and explained a lot of mysteries left by the press release, which is all I could find among the couple websites I read. I think it isn't going to be easy getting fans and sponsors back. US road racing is pretty much rent-a-ride these days. There just isn't much capital to be had by anybody. But I am hoping I'm wrong. Certainly there are plenty of decent venues to have a great series. Particularly if they can get a couple Canadian rounds in.

Roadracing can now start anew in North America. The best thing DMG has ever done for roadracing, by far, is leaving it. Best of luck to KRAVE in re-creating the sport!

That's the easiest part of the questions: The Daytona 200 is still the oldest motorcycle race in America, and will be the season kickoff and cornerstone of the new setup. Yeah, MotoGP at Austin and Indianapolis get bigger crowds, but historically (for motorcyclists) the Daytona 200 is the equivalent of the Indianapolis 500. That's where the history is, that's where the season starts.

From there? I can think of places already: Laguna Seca (although I'll never make a race there, way too distant), Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway (my home track), Mid-Ohio. Do as much as they can to bring back the feel of pre-2008, hell, try to bring back the 1990's and early 2000's. Just leave Mat Mladin back in Australia.

After all the nice things that Mat had to say about the US? :D
@sykerocker -- I prefer to think that it was Ben Spies that ran him out of the AMA.

There is wisdom here. This website is a Alien-send.

The tracks! We have some great tracks in the USA. I need to get track time on Miller and COTA, thanks for the reminder. When we have AMA SBK and SS IDENTICAL to the new International rulebooks then along come the wildcards. And those new rules are a bunch cheaper to get going with, top regional American teams are going to step right up and then take that one next step.

That entry class for the youngsters, the Jr class, that is the great mystery to me. I am hoping for some cunning creative planning on that one. What could/should happen? What bikes are already out there and established? What bikes could be? What bikes 'should' be?
Moto3's
Ninja Cup's
Lightweight Superbike kitchen sink
450 singles in whatever bike
???

I see done deal for 1000 SBK and 600 SS and happy w that. Howzabout 4 classes so there could be a Superstock AND a Jr class to get the kids in?

If we do Moto3 rules would more manu's pop bikes out for it? Is it feasible logistically and financially/sponsorship-wise?

Wishing these folks all the best.