The state of professional roadracing here in the U.S. is rather dismal, in our opinion. AMA Pro Racing changed dramatically a couple of years ago when it was sold to a private group. Rules changed, and I suppose that is to be expected with any new organization, but integrity issues and uncertainty about consistent rule enforcement turned off a lot of hard core fans and participants. Things appear to be changing of late, however, and the hiring of nine-time AMA champion Jeff Ward (see the press release below) as a rider liaison is another step in the right direction. Ward is not far removed from competition… having won a supermoto championship just a couple of years ago. He knows the riders’ perspective, obviously, but it is his reputation for integrity and straight dealing that is of paramount importance here.
The following is from AMA Pro Racing…
Motorcycle racing legend Jeff Ward will bring his considerable amount of racing and career experience to AMA Pro Racing as rider liaison and advisor. Ward has nine AMA Pro Racing Championships in Motocross, Supercross and Supermoto. He also has a number of other significant motorcycle wins and achievements as well as an impressive auto racing resume that includes a Ganassi Indy Car win, Rookie of the Year at the 1997 Indianapolis 500 and a second place finish in that iconic event in 1999. Jeff is also in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Among other responsibilities, Jeff will be the rider liaison and will fully engage with AMA Pro Racing’s riders on the many issues that are important to or may cause concern from the rider’s standpoint.
“Jeff has the perspective of an experienced, champion rider and can understand the concerns and questions that only someone who has experienced it from behind the handlebars would truly understand,” said AMA Pro Racing COO David Atlas. “And having Jeff represent that part of our sport and be one of our key advisors will further our efforts to be as available and responsive to our riders and teams as we can. From the time he was a child and was featured doing wheelies in the classic motorcycle movie ‘On Any Sunday’, Jeff has devoted his entire sports life to winning and he is now cultivating his own children’s successful motorcycle competition careers. We felt that the spectrum of Wardy’s experience, his down to earth sincerity and unassuming nature could be very helpful to many in our paddock.”
Joining AMA Pro Racing Race Director David McGrath, who also has experience as a rider in the sport, Jeff and David McGrath provide AMA Pro Racing with a large baseline of firsthand racer experience that will greatly benefit the riders in AMA Pro Racing.
“I’m delighted to be joining the AMA Pro Racing series,” said Ward, “I personally know many of the riders and am looking forward to helping them have a positive influence in the future direction of the sport and the way in which they plan and pursue their training, successful strategies and careers.”
Jeff will begin his duties at the upcoming March 26-28th Auto Club Speedway AMA Pro Road Racing event in Fontana, CA and will be a very approachable presence in the pits and paddock at the AMA Pro Road Racing events in 2010. Ward will also advise AMA Pro Racing on motocross and flat track rider matters which it sanctions too, as well as assist AMA Pro Racing with its relations with the motorcycle manufacturers and parts suppliers.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.