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Do the Right Thing: MD Reader Responses

Viewers of last Saturday’s Daytona 200 watched in disbelief as Aaron Yates kicked, shouted at, and head-butted Anthony Fania, after the two racers came together and crashed out 49 laps into the epic race. Yate’s behavior will surely go down in history as a text book example of poor sportsmanship (surpassing even the legendary poor sport – John McEnroe). The pride felt by Suzuki and Yoshimura for Mat Mladin’s third Daytona 200 race win was overshadowed by the embarrassment caused by Yates’ temper tantrum.

Anthony Fania and his father spoke about the “incident”. Aaron Yates told us he “was sorry” (sort of). Suzuki felt that Yates had acted in an “unsportsman-like manner”, and levied a $25,000 fine against him. The AMA echoed Suzuki’s sentiment, suspended Yates for one race, levied a fine and encouraged attendance at an anger management program.

Our editor felt that Suzuki and the AMA “did the right thing”. Our readers, however, felt that the punishment did not fit the crime. Almost unanimously, all who took the time to write in felt that the penalties levied on Yates were simply not strong enough. Here, in their unedited form, are the responses. Thank you to all who took the time to write.

  • How ’bout that Yates fellow? A real good sportsman, ain’t he? I hope one day he takes someone out who will then get up and beat him down on national tv. From what I’ve heard, the Suzuki pit was no more professional in dealing with Fania’s pit crew, either. Yates should remember how Chili reacted to Yates’ bowling ball move at Laguna Seca WSB weekend and follow that example. At the very least, Yates should have checked the other rider to make sure he wasn’t hurt, not run over and kick him. Yates had a responsibility as a passing rider to do it safely, and he didn’t, so shame on him.
  • Given your coverage of the antics of supercross and motocross racers, I though for sure you would have something to say about Yates and his abysmal behavior at the Daytona 200. This certainly tops anything I have seen in AMA racing. Any comments?
  • Just a quick note to tell you thanks for a great site – I start everyday with it!
    Also, I’m interested in an editorial from you on Aaron Yates and his “escapade.” In my view, his actions were way worse than Kevin “got off scott-free” Windham. Appreciated your thoughtful editorial on that one.
    Keep up the great work.
  • Helmets off to Suzuki for imposing a fine for Yate’s totally
    unsportsmanlike behavior. As a sponsor, I would have certainly been
    embarrassed as I’m sure they were. Mr. Yates gave millions of us a
    perfect example of showing our boys how not to treat a fellow competitor.
    Aaron has a gift. Not many men can do what he does on a motorcycle, and
    being a rider and a former racer, I can really appreciate the skill
    involved, but with it all comes responsibility.

    Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult today to find men at
    high levels of athletic skill that you can allow your 11 year-old son to
    look up to, simply because so many men have forgot that humility and
    sportsmanship are more important than bragging rights and a trophy. I
    loved watching Collin Edwards dice with Troy for the championship last
    year, but after reading and hearing some of his foul mouth in some of
    his interviews, I was disappointed (again). No one expects perfection,
    but come on guys – at least in public, attempt to present road racing in
    the best possible light we can. There are less skilled (and less
    sponsored!) men out there riding their hearts out for the sport they
    love. You used to do the same thing. Let’s try to keep the main thing
    the main thing.
    I wish Aaron and Collin all the best.

  • Mladin was fined $5000 and lost his pole point at Loudon in 2001 for saying the word “shit.” Yes, I know he later got the fine reduced and got his point back but AMA Pro Racing thought that $5000 was fair for that incident. Does the Yates incident compare? Not even close.

    Chuck Chouinard was suspended for one year for alledgedly spitting at an official and using abusive language. Does that compare? Not even close.

    Aaron has a history of making contact with and crashing lappers. He has the skill and speed that they shouldn’t be a problem for him yet they continually are. This is just another example of AMA Pro Racing’s favoritism for the “stars.”

    Yes, it will be a very difficult year for Aaron to do well in the championship. That will be mitigated by the apparent eveness of competition this year. This penaly from AMA Pro Racing is a slap on the wrist and is not in line with previous penalties.

  • “The Aaron Yates incident at Daytona — kicking and head butting a rider involved in an accident with him — was deplorable and embarrassing for Yates, his team and the AMA.”
    Yeah, especially since the accident was clearly his fault! Didn’t he cause Bostrom to wreck last year as well? I heard Fania filed charges against Yates; is that true?
  • I disagree completely with your statements in “Do the Right Thing”. From
    correspondence I have had with others around the country, I am not alone.
    This situation is more than just “deplorable and embarrassing” and the
    punishment is much less than “just”. It might have been appropriate if this
    was his first offense, but he has a pattern of bump passing other riders and
    acting in an unprofessional and aggressive manner. The penalty and only one
    race suspension amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist for Yates
    and does nothing to mitigate the black eye he gave to motorcyclists
    everywhere on national TV. As for “helping Yates learn from his mistake”,
    yes he has likely learned something…that he can continue to attack other
    riders and as long as he is making money for Suzuki and AMA Racing, they
    will essentially look the other way.

    What would have been appropriate? Suzuki should at least take the $25,000
    and give it to the other rider to cover his damages. They really should
    have disassociated themselves from him. AMA Racing should have suspended
    him for at least three events, at a minimum, so as to remove the possibility
    of winning the championship. A full season suspension would have been more
    appropriate. As it stands, AMA Racing has just let everyone know that there
    are no serious consequences for aggressive, endangering, unprofessional
    behavior during their race events.

  • Is there any truth to the rumor that Yate’s team wrecked equipment in that guy’s paddock? I’ve heard that this wasn’t a new thing for the Yates team. This seems bizarre in the extreme.
  • I could not agree with you more. Things happen in racing put that kind of
    behavior is not acceptable.
  • Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a 53 year old sport bike rider
    [having ridden for 4 years] as well as a safetycrew cornerworker/marshal,
    and have participated in numerous track days over the past year and a half.
    Recently I obtained an AHRMA race license and will be pursuing a license
    with WERA this spring. Even though I am a relative newcomer to motorcycles
    and racing, I feel that I can speak from a rider and almost-a-racer’s point
    of view perspective.

    Concerning the incident at Daytona last Saturday between Aaron Yates and
    Anthony Fania, Yates’ behavior was, at the very least, wholly uncalled for,
    not to mention criminal. Yates has an ongoing problem with “anti-social”
    behavior on and off the track. The most recent incident at Daytona
    epitomizes his overly aggressive nature. And while I applaud the AMA and
    Suzuki for making an attempt to discipline Mr. Yates, I firmly believe the
    fines and suspension will have little long-term impact on his behavior.

    Rather, I think a more appropriate action/discipline would be for the AMA
    to suspend him from the next 4 races, levy a minimum fine of $50,000 AND
    require Yates to participate in an anger management course.

    Aaron Yates needs a wake up call in order to even admit he has a problem,
    let alone address same.

  • I’m not an expert racer, or even an expert rider. I am a fan and an AMA
    member.

    I am not a fan of fines or suspensions in general.

    On track incidents like rough riding, disobeying flags or rule violations
    need to be punished in their own way and that can include fines or
    suspension. These are a result of racing incidents.

    Here is why I think Yates got off easy.

    What he did was a result of on track action but what he did had nothing to
    do with racing. He resorted to physical violence against another person.
    That is not acceptable walking down the street, or at the track. I would be
    fired if I did that to one of my co-workers.

    Despite a grand canyon like gap in our riding talent, you, me and Yates
    share one thing. We are motorcyclists. In a sport where our image is
    constantly under attack, whether it be stunters on the street, loud pipes or
    off-road issues we have organized racing that remains pretty clear of public
    ridicule and performs in a professional manner. Yates’ actions are another
    knock against motorcycles and another hit our image takes. This will
    probably be the only time this year motorcycling gets shown on my local
    sports coverage, two bikes crashing and then a physical altercation. Great
    for our image? I don’t think so.

    Now we have a measly $5,000 fine and 1 race suspension. That is not enough
    in my book for something that I may pay for.

  • Aaron Yates fine and suspension was appropriate. I’ve been attending The
    Daytona 200 since 1967 and I never recall such conduct by a rider and
    particularly when it looked in my judgment to be Yates’ fault.
  • The one race suspension is not nearly enough of a punishment for
    intentionally trying to injury someone. Aaron Yates has a history of doing
    dumb things. He should have had at least a three race suspension. I’m
    angry the AMA lacks the manliness to do the right thing.
  • I do applaud you for waiting until the dust cleared to report on this incident. Always good to have the facts.

    I agree that Suzuki’s action was commendable.

    And it was good that the AMA did something, but I think it is not enough. Reduce the fine by half if he enrolls in an anger management course? No, the fine should have equaled the $25,000 from Suzuki and Yates’s continued participation in the AMA series should be dependent on his attend anger management courses. The one race suspension seems a little light also.

    Only time will tell if Yates’s behavoir will change. Tigers rarely change their stripes.

  • I would like to add my two cents to the comments you will no doubt receive about Aaron Yates’ behavior at Daytona this year. This was just another in the long list of Yates “incidents”, and to think that sending him to an anger management class is going to have any long lasting effect on his behavior is laughable. The punishment handed out by the AMA and Suzuki, while better than nothing, is not anywhere near as severe as it should have been. Yates has been trading on this “enforcer” image his entire career, and the AMA has only itself to blame for this most recent example of his psychological problems.

    Perhaps the journalists that cover these guys and see them up close all the time tend to sympathize and identify with them. But, when you objectively review the ever escalating violent nature of Yates’ reactions when he is displeased with the outcome of a situation or with someone else’s actions you realize that this individual has lost the ability to control his emotions and behavior. The AMA should have yanked his license for the remainder of the 2004 season and put him on probation for 2005. Anything less and by observation of past behavior (including the “apology” issued by Yates’ agent, or Suzuki, or his wife, or whoever is trying once again to clean up the mess) Yates will consider his penalty as a cost of doing business and be right back at it in no time. The only entity that seems to be taking a circumspect approach is Yoshimura, who has announced that they are still reviewing the situation and are very disappointed b! y Mr. Yates’ behavior. I wouldn’t want my corporate Japanese bosses to be “very disappointed” in anything I did, especially if it was broadcast on TV. Don’t look now Aaron, but your pink slip might already be in the mail.

  • Do you really think a one-race suspension and a $5,000 fine is sufficient
    for kicking a downed rider?

    Do you really think this sanction “portrays the AMA Superbike series as a
    professionally run, no nonsense [sic] championship series”?

    It doesn’t.

    And your “Do the Right Thing” editorial doesn’t portray your website as
    professional or no-nonsense either.

  • Do you recall another prominent American racer that threw gravel on the
    track because he was angry about falling down?
    Should have been suspended for the season for endangering others.
  • I watched the Daytona 200 and would like to say that while the
    $25,000 fine imposed on Aaron Yates was
    commendable, he should have been fired. Unsportsmanlike conduct such
    as his – he did, after all, run
    into the other rider – has no place in our sport.

    A hothead like Yates is a terrible example for up and coming riders
    and Suzuki should be ashamed to
    continue to have him on their racing staff unless he issues a public
    apology to the other rider in particular
    and to the racing community in general. He should have been arrested
    and charged with assault and
    battery.

    I have raced many times and know that one is often called upon to
    make a decision about whether to try
    and intimidate the other rider entering a corner, or do the right
    thing and let him through without causing
    injury or worse. Yates could have done that but instead tried to
    drive through the lapped rider who wasn’t
    even aware he was there.

    Many of the other riders I’ve talked to agree with these conclusions.

  • Agree that Yate’s actions were deplorable. I’ll go further and say they were also criminal. I doubt he’ll ever pay the Suzuki $25k fine. That’s like my mom fining me $500 for beating up my neighbor’s kid. Give me a break!
    The AMA’s penalty is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. $5K is pocket change to Yates. Should have been $50K and a 3 race suspension as a minimum. Preferrably to disqualify him for the remainder of 2004 season.
    That’s my opinion.
  • > The reaction by Suzuki and the AMA, however, makes you feel good
    about the sport of motorcycle road racing in this country.

    Hardly. They’ve been spineless for how many years now? Yates needed to
    have been called on the carpet several times last year and previously
    but wasn’t.

    > The AMA has said that it will reduce the $5,000 fine it imposed by
    one-half if Yates takes an anger management class.

    Oh please. The AMA should SUSPEND his license till such time as he
    takes the class. Yates is a despicably behaved rider who has STILL yet
    to apologize. He needs to be on probation. One for screw-up and his
    license is history.

    > It also, in this instance, portrays the AMA Superbike series as a
    professionally run, no nonsense championship series.

    Does AMA pay to support the website. You can’t be serious. Or are
    American ‘moral’ standards this pathetically low.

    > helping Aaron Yates learn from his mistake.

    not bloody likely.

  • I don’t know the particulars about the Aaron Yates’ incident, but my understanding is that he physically attacked a fellow rider that he felt was at fault in a mutual accident on the track. I don’t know if Yates found the rider in question to be malicious, negligent, or merely incompetent.

    What I do know is that I was at Laguna Seca last year for the WSB races when Yates low-sided going into turn two at the start of Race 1. In losing the front end, Yates skittered across the path of a number of world class riders and took out several, not the least of which included a certain Bostrom brother and one Pierre Francisco Chili (spelling?).

    How did Chili react? Did he physically or verbally attack Yates, a rider not yet riding at the world level and hoping to make a positive impression? No. He acted as a true sportsman in the best sense of the word, publicly wrote off the incident as bad luck to Yates, and came back to win that day.

    If Aaron Yates needs a behavioral role model or a mirror to look into, he might reflect back on that incident. He would find good examples of both.

  • I read your recent article on the Yates incident at DIS and must voice
    my opinion on the matter. As far as I am concerned, the 5K penalty and
    the one-race-suspension is nothing but a slap on Yates hand! Comparing
    his offense to prior incidents involving Anthony Gobert or Mat Mladin
    and their penalties, this does not even register on any scale. 25K
    won’t hurt Yates one bit – I doubt that he will actually pay the money -
    the 5K will be reduced and the one race suspension can be made up by
    good performances in future races.

    His behavior was embarrassing for the AMA, his team and motorcycling in
    general and these “penalties” are not sending a strong enough message.
    Yates will continue with his antics and the AMA will probably continue
    to protect itself instead of taking a stand against a factory rider and
    his team.

  • Yates was fined $25,000 by Suzuki, the AMA has fined him an additional $5,000.
    this would be OK if the $$ or part of it were going to the rider whom Yates acted out upon.
  • I think the AMA needs to have more serious talks with backmarkers though. There is no reason why they should even get in the front runners way. You don’t see that happening much in MotoGP and WSC.
  • I along with most of the riders in the NW FL area was proud and thrilled to have a southern boy in the race…but this show was absurd. One of the first things mentioned and discussed here in florida was the chance of additional injuries following the accident. Rider taken down was lucky to be up and moving…but additional kicks and head butts at this time is not to be taken lightly… and suzuki and AMA have taken this subject lightly.
    I see suzuki and AMA taking taking losses over the vague scense of justice taken.
    consider my suzuki up for sale.
  • I wanted to take a few moments of your time to address the events that took place at the Daytona 200, I am as you are aware a loyal MD reader and a avid AMA pro racing fan and have been left with a very bad taste in my mouth after this race. As you are aware “And the rest of the people that watched the race” the Yoshimura Suzuki rider Aaron Yates was making a pass on the KWS Racing’s Anthony Fania, now I am not trying to figure out weather one person or the other was at fault after all Robert Duval said it best “Rubbin is racing” But I have been studying the 2004 AMA Superbike Rule book and can’t help but think the AMA is making some dyer mistakes.

    I keep wondering why it took the AMA so long to make a decision on this matter, after all everyone on the AMA’s who’s who list was in attendance I.E. Ron Barrick the AMA Superbike Race Director, Merrill Vanderslice the AMA Director of Competition and many more, So why did three days pass? The entire viewing world saw it and based on the reader e-mails had some sort of opinion on the matter. I was doing some web based research and found out that Mr. Yates left Daytona with 8 points and $2300.00 in price money and $200.00 for being on the front row, I wondered if the rest of the readers know this fact. I thought to my self WHAT THE HELL!!! So let me get this straight he starts a fight and based on the rule book “Engaging in a fight anywhere before, during or after an AMA race is prohibited and what do you do you pay him money and valuable points, wow I wonder what are kids would be like if we all disciplined them the way the AMA does it?

    Additionally in section B of the rule book is states and I quote “The AMA is also empowered to suspend a riders eligibility to earn points for one or more event “INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE EVENT IN WHICH THE RULE BOOK VIOLATION TOOK PLACE” I can’t help thinking that the good people at the AMA need to read their rule book, I feel the AMA keeps sending the wrong message with regards fines a penalty’s at AMA sanctioned events I.E. Superbike, Supercross and the like. I want to point out that if the AMA would have taken care of business when it happened most likely Mr.Fania wouldn’t have called the local law enforcement to press charges against Mr.Yates and by the way this type of action by Mr.Fania the should be forbidden also, but with the AMA’s lackadaisical approach to discipline I don’t really blame him.

    In closing I am not sure you will print this, after all I am attacking at the very core of what we all hold so dear, and being a card carrying member of the AMA I am saddened at the events that I have seen.

  • Yer kidding… right? $5k and a “pass” on one race sounds like the fair
    and equable punishment for assault? Not in my book. The AMA really
    needs to do more than a couple bux and a one race suspension.
    Maybe a fine closer to 25 – 50% of what Mr Yates makes in a year
    would make him take notice.

    I say that American Slowzuki should give Yates the boot, and his
    superbike seat to Ben Spies.

    ***** Aaron Yates.

  • Boooo! I use to like Aaron Yates until his immaturity shined through at Daytona. Aaron belongs on the Jerry Springer show! What was he thinking?!
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