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We Already Have Traction Control in AMA Superbike Racing

With recent media speculation that the AMA was about to relax its rule prohibiting traction control devices in AMA Superbike racing, and the AMA’s emphatic denial of this rumor, two things immediately come to mind.

First of all, riders already have the most appropriate traction control device available to them. The right wrist.

Second, substituting artificial traction control for the manual method described above is sacrilege. It is not easy to identify a rider skill more important on powerful superbikes than controlling rear wheel traction with the rider’s right wrist. Indeed, the reason so many U.S. Flat Track champions have become U.S. and even World Roadracing champions is directly related to the finely honed skill of throttle control of the rear wheel.

This same discussion has taken place in many other motorsports championships, including F1. When you substitute technology for driver/rider skill, you rob the sport of part of its essence. You approach the fuzzy, gray line between a contest of riders and their machines, on the one hand, and “robot wars” on the other. You also give an unfair advantage to manufacturers with greater financial resources (and, thus, engineering resources).

Of course, you can have great racing with throttle control permitted, but the purest tests of rider skill will leave in place the risks associated with poor throttle control (such as highsides).