PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- It began back in the late 1970s when someone wondered who was the best all-around motorcycle racer and from which discipline would he come. Would it be a road racer, an off-road racer or perhaps a flat track pilot? From that...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- It began back in the late 1970s when someone wondered who was the best all-around motorcycle racer and from which discipline would he come. Would it be a road racer, an off-road racer or perhaps a flat track pilot? From that was born the notion of a new type of motorcycle race. It was first called superbikers and it blended on- and off-road racing by featuring a track comprised of both pavement and dirt. Motocross bikes proved to be the best choice for this new form of racing and with minimal modifications a racer could easily build a competitive mount. The discipline prospered in the United States for awhile and then disappeared, perhaps because of the trend towards specialization. It found a home in Europe and grew modestly. Stateside, local clubs began to emerge as interest returned. Now, in a big way, supermoto will return to where it all started in the form of an all new national series called The AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship.
"We couldn't be more excited about launching this championship," said AMA Pro Racing CEO, Scott Hollingsworth. "AMA Pro Racing will again take a leadership role in providing what the OEMs, racers, sponsors and, most importantly, our fans have been asking for. We're confident that this series will be a hit immediately because it takes the best from a variety of motorcycle racing disciplines and puts them all together in one highly entertaining package. The racing will be competitive, accessible and fan-friendly. Plus, thanks to the support of our partners, Red Bull North America and KTM Sportmotorcycles USA, we'll be able to launch this series aggressively." Energy drink maker Red Bull has signed an agreement to be the title sponsor of the series and KTM will be a class sponsor.
From the outset, the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship will look and feel different than most motorcycle racing series. For one thing it won't be bound by traditional venue limitations. "Our vision is to take AMA Supermoto to the people by putting it in places one wouldn't expect to find a motorcycle race," said AMA Pro Racing Vice President of Commercial Development, John Farris. "In year one, you'll find some AMA Supermoto events held in conjunction with other AMA Pro Racing events but, as the championship grows, you'll begin to see more stand-alone events. The beauty of this form of racing is that that you can create a 'motorcycle happening' virtually anywhere. It's not out of the question that you'll soon see AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship races at concerts, expos or even downtown, urban locations. This will open up boundless possibilities for our sponsors in terms of marketing and cross-promotional opportunities. Plus, it will enable us to present motorcycle racing in an all new fashion."
Top-level riders from all major disciplines will participate in the series. Former World GP champion Kevin Schwantz plans on competing as does reigning AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Champion Chris Carr, multi-time X-Games gold medalist/freestyle motocross star Mike Metzger and five-time Daytona 200 winner Scott Russell. This will not only guarantee a highly entertaining show but may just put to rest the question of which discipline actually does produce the best all around rider.
In year one, two classes will be presented. The Red Bull Supermoto class will be for motorcycles up to 450cc and the KTM Supermoto Unlimited class will feature 490cc and over motorcycles. These classes were established to allow the largest number of brands to participate. "Virtually every manufacturer already, or soon will, offers a 450cc, four-stroke motocross machine and there are a number of big-bore machines, primarily the European brands, available for the unlimited class," said Merrill Vanderslice, AMA Pro Racing Director of Competition. "Utilizing this formula will ensure the largest fields, competitive racing, keep costs down and allow for maximum participation. Minimal modifications will be necessary to field a competitive machine. This consists primarily of wheels and tires and some suspension work. Minor engine modifications will be allowed so riders can tune their engines to fit their particular riding style. Several aftermarket companies already offer a wide selection of parts and, as the series matures, more are sure to follow."
Hollingsworth went on to add that the creation of these two classes will expand sales opportunities for the manufacturers. "When it comes down to it, racing is really about selling motorcycles and this will allow the OEMs to explore new marketing opportunities by re-positioning existing product. For example, now the OEMs can offer a motocross bike to both the motocross enthusiast as well as a racer interested in supermoto. This lets the OEMs target a completely new customer base," said Hollingsworth.
The 2003 AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship will consist of six rounds with the series culminating at the championship finale run in conjunction with the AMA Pro Racing Awards Banquet in Las Vegas in November. The program will follow the highly successful AMA Supercross formula of qualifying heats leading up to a main event. Courses will be approximately 80% pavement, 20% dirt, feature at least one significant jump and be between .6 and 1.1 miles in length. The main event will be 25 laps. Both a Team Championship and Manufacturer Championship will be awarded. Riders and teams will be able to participate in the final championship event based on points earned in earlier rounds. For more information about the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship, visit www.amaproracing.com.
"This championship will take motorcycle racing in the United States to a completely new place," said Hollingsworth. "It is being constructed in an entirely-new, highly-creative way taking into account the needs of the manufacturers, riders, sponsors and fans. It's not enough anymore to just show up at a racetrack, put on a race and hope that it will have value to the parties concerned. AMA Pro Racing has done its homework and will be offering a series that will become the model for motorsports presentation. We're very proud of what we've accomplished already and it's only going to get better."