Zemke, Kizer Conduct AMA Track Inspection at Miller Motorsports Park
TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (December 10, 2007) -- AMA Pro Racing sent former Daytona 200 winner Jake Zemke and AMA Road Race Series Director Keith Kizer to Miller Motorsports Park last week to survey the 4.5-mile Full Course that the AMA Superbike Championship will utilize for the first time in 2008, and to inspect recent safety modifications that have been made to the circuit.
The AMA track inspection follows two recent visits by FIM Safety Director Claude Danis, who identified certain upgrades to meet the needs of the HANNSPREE FIM SUPERBIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP®, with whom the AMA Superbike Championship will share the facility over the weekend of May 29 -- June 1, 2008.
Among the changes that have already been made to the track are increased asphalt runoff and curbing at a number of corners and modifications to the runoff at the final corner and the entrance to pit lane. Also of interest to Zemke and Kizer was the unique dual-pit-lane concept that will be utilized.
Zemke and Kizer toured the track with MMP CEO/General Manager Alan Wilson, who designed the facility and the recent modifications. They made a couple of suggestions for further small improvements that will be completed well before the race weekend.
Zemke, who will move from the factory Honda Superbike and Formula Xtreme teams to the privateer Erion Racing Honda Supersport team in 2008, was very pleased with the changes that have been made.
"It looks good," he said. "It's not going to take much to get it ready for us to race on, just a couple of little changes here and there. Obviously, Alan and Larry (Miller, track owner) go out of their way to make sure that we get what we want here. It's great to see their enthusiasm to make this the safest track that we go to. Obviously, they've also worked on the last corner, which was the only problem we ever had with the Outer Course, and the fix looks really good. It's really great to see a track that wants to be on the forefront of safety for motorcycle racing."
Unprecedented Pit Lane Access for Fans
The unique dual-pit-lane concept really caught Zemke's eye. The pit lane will be set up so that the World Superbikes and AMA Superbikes each have their own distinct pit lane, with the World Superbikes working out of the Grand Prix garages and a hard barrier placed to separate that area from the AMA Superbike team working area and pit lane. Each series will have its own pit-out, with the AMA using the existing pit-out, which has been modified for better flow and higher speed, and the World Superbikes using a new extended pit lane with pit-out at Turn 1. This arrangement will allow fans to visit the World Superbike pit lane while the AMA bikes are on the track, which will provide unprecedented access right in the middle of the action.
"I think the pit lane setup is going to be really neat," Zemke said. "It's going to be a unique opportunity for the race fans to actually get down there and see what's going on. Especially while we're out on the track, they're going to be able to be peeking into the garages at what the World Superbike guys are doing as well as being able to see what we're doing out on the pit lane. It's going to be an incredible opportunity to get access that you can't get at any other racetrack in the country, so I think that's going to be really exciting for the fans, and it should be really good."
As for the prospect of going from the 3.08-mile Outer Course to the 4.5-mile Full Course, Zemke, who scored the most recent Honda Superbike win here in 2006, said that a 50-percent increase in lap length would add more excitement to the racing.
"You know, I think the racing's going to be quite good," he said. "It looks like the infield section of the track that we hadn't previously run will give us a lot of good passing opportunities and overtaking areas. As hard as it is to believe, I think we're going to see better racing than we had here previously.
"I really, really enjoy this racetrack, and I think it's going to be even more fun than it used to be with these new corners," he added. "It's going to be great because it's going to be new for everybody again, and it's adding twice as many corners to the racetrack as we used to have. So it's going to be a lot of fun, and it'll be good because a lot of the guys won't have any previous information coming into this race like we have the past two years."
Kizer Pleased with Pre-Event Planning
Kizer acknowledged that combining the AMA Superbike and World Superbike events in one weekend is a daunting task, but was happy with the preparation and planning that has taken place so far. He also noted that AMA Pro Racing's experience at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the MotoGP World Championship over the past two years and with the FIM SUPERBIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP between 1995 and 2004 would be helpful.
"At least we have a little advantage coming in," he said, "because we've done this before with MotoGP and SBK. It's not going to be unusual; we will take a lot of the things that we have learned from that and try to make this an even better experience, and I think it will be. The facility here is laid out more in a European style, so it's a lot easier to access the entire racetrack, especially if we have any downed riders that we need to get to, to keep the flow of the race going. It'll be, personally, my first time to work with World Superbike, but not the AMA's. With the planning that we have going into this thus far, it'll be an event that'll be a unique experience both for the spectators and the competitors. It's an event that I look to go off flawlessly."
Like Zemke, Kizer was pleased with the modifications that have been made to the track.
"The major change that I see, and something that we have talked about in the past, is primarily pit-in and pit-out," he said. "The changes that have been made are exactly what we want. Now, we may be doing something different than World Superbike; we still want to utilize the same pit-out that we had, but it's configured just a little bit better, safer, and it's an easier, higher-speed blend. But certainly pit-in is safer, and also the last turn is safer because of that redesign. Everything else, there's really not much change for us, other than some better asphalt runoff and more curbing, and that's always better."
Kizer noted that the AMA riders will face a significant challenge racing the Full Course, due to the increased length and number of corners, but that race fans will reap the benefit.
"The challenge is the new section of the track," he said. "It's a lot to learn for a rider to come in here and get that new section of the racetrack in his mind, because it's almost just doubling it. So it's going to be a learning curve for them, but it'll be a better fan experience because when you use that inner course, it gives a lot more fan accessibility, so it's going to be great race."
A web page has been established for ticketing and event information at www.millermotorsportspark.com/sbk08. For more information, call the track at (435) 277-RACE or visit the website at www.millermotorsportspark.com.