The AMA fuel rules and penalties

I just thought I'd share my thoughts on the fuel penalty imposed by the AMA:

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----- Original Message -----

From: Jim Mason

To: manderslice@amaproracing.com ; swhitelock@amaproracing.com

Cc: cyoung@amaproracing.com

Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 9:47 AM

Subject: A truly dark spot in the middle of the "perfect storm"

AN OPEN LETTER TO AMA PRO RACING

AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross have endured over a decade of domination -- first by Jeremy McGrath and then by Ricky Carmichael. While the most committed fans remained dedicated to following each series and found things to be interested in (such as laps led by someone other than Jeremy or Ricky), those not as dedicated and many potential fans became bored by the repetitive results. To less-than-rabid fans, having the same person win the vast majority of races and the title of National Champion becomes boring. It was killing the fan base of our sport and affecting our ability to attract and retain sponsors.

2006 was highly anticipated as an intense season of exciting racing. And it has delivered. AMA Supercross has returned to a level of competition that grabs the hearts and minds of fans. The AMA Supercross series started off with a bang, the racing has been great, and the surprises have been fast and furious. Every week there have been surprises on the track -- surprises in who had the fastest lap in practice, surprises in who performed the best in the qualifiers, surprises in who was where on the first lap, and surprises in who finished where in the main event at each race. All of these surprises result in unpredictable races that have fans thoroughly engaged in the racing, eager to see what will unfold at each and every round.

Surprises on the track are a good thing -- that's what causes fans to buy tickets and travel great distances; surprises cause fans to be on their feet in the stadiums and glued to their TV sets at home. Surprises on the track are the adrenaline of the sport for fans.

Surprises caused by the officiating and the governing body are not a good thing. They are dispiriting for the racers, the fans, and the sponsors.

Tens of thousands of motocross/supercross fans around the world are stunned by the 25 point penalty assessed by the AMA against Ricky Carmichael for the fuel violation found by the AMA. It is unconscionable that the AMA would assess a 25 point penalty against a rider for a violation that has little, if any, effect on the motorcycle's performance and, therefore, the outcome of a race. The penalty should reflect the infraction; it should be as "natural" of a consequence as possible. Taking away championship points only makes sense for violations that affect race results and the points awarded to a rider. An engine with an oversized piston? A motorcycle below the minimum weight? Oxygenated gas? Aggressive riding that unfairly advances the rider or impedes his competition? All are deserving of points penalties. Lead in the gas which causes a little extra pollution? ABSOLUTELY NOT! It simply does not make sense.

It is impossible to understand how the AMA can justify changing the outcome of a National Championship and the course of history by penalizing a racer 25 points for gas that contained too much lead. The result of such an action is likely to be that the racer who deserves to be National Champion will end up 2nd or 3rd and that a racer who deserves to be 2nd or 3rd ends up the National Champion. Fans will consider whether an asterisk should be placed by the name of the person who wins the National Championship because of this unwarranted alteration of points earned by riders. The entire Supercross Series ends up under a cloud of "that's not right" in the minds of its fans.

And let's not forget the impact to corporate sponsors. At a time when our sport seems to be entering a new era of sponsorship, corporations who deserve to lay claim to helping the National Champion will not get the rightful return on their investment. What is the message that is being sent to those who currently invest or are considering investing in motocross and supercross? That the governing body will impose capricious penalties which, with the stroke of a pen, erase the reward for the significant sums of money they committed? Does that help our sport?

Finally, points in the championship series affect the record and legacy of the racers. Ricky has been referred to as the Greatest Of All Time. The primary criteria is total race wins and total National Championship wins. It will be an incredibly sad thing if the AMA tarnishes the record of the current GOAT over something that most certainly did not affect the outcome of a race and the points he earned.

I urge the AMA to reconsider and reverse this penalty. A monetary fine would be an appropriate penalty for an infraction that does not change the outcome of racing. 25 championship points is not an appropriate penalty and has ramifications to the interest level in the series, to the fan base, to the Makita Suzuki team, to Ricky, to Ricky's sponsors, and to the legacy of all the series contenders in the AMA Supercross record books.

I'm sure that it will be very hard to change the penalty from National Championship points to something else like a monetary fine. But it is the right thing to do. For the racers, the fans, the sponsors, the sport. Please do the right thing in this situation.

Jim Mason

The change should be made at the end of the season. If RC got a wrist slap, what would that say to others who have been penalized in the past? His gas was bad according to the AMA, they can't change the rules just for him.

All in all it sounds like a crap rule. All the gas for the race should come out of the same tank. Jet accordingly, and let the riders ability speak.

Jim,

Excellent letter. :thumbsup:

The only thing I would have added was a section questioning Steve Whitelock's lack of a sense of urgency after the 2nd infraction last year.

Read my post (next to last one on the first page) in this thread to see what I'm talking about.

His remarks don't make sense and don't jive with DeCoster's comments about asking the AMA to address this previously.

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