Kawasaki quits AMA/DMG racing

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Eddie_Lawson_Kawasaki.jpgKawasaki is quitting AMA/DMG Pro Racing citing a lack of foresight that was pervasive throughout the industry the economy. Where does this leave DMG? Without Buell, without Kawasaki, without Honda, without Mat Mladin, without prize money; basically without a point. Much less damning press release below.  >

KAWASAKI MOTORS CORP., U.S.A. SUSPENDS ROAD RACING FOR 2010 SEASON

IRVINE, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2009) ? Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
announced the company will not participate in the AMA Pro Racing road
racing series in 2010.

“While we’ve always considered road racing an integral part of our
sportbike development process, the realities of the current economic
situation dictate the temporary suspension of our U.S. road racing
activities,” said Bruce Stjernstrom, marketing director.

Kawasaki’s long history of successful road racing includes 20 AMA
series championships. Among the many champions who have worn the
Kawasaki lime green racing leathers are Reg Pridmore, Eddie Lawson,
Wayne Rainey, Miguel Duhamel, Scott Russell, Doug Chandler, Eric
Bostrom and more recently Tommy Hayden and Roger Hayden.

“We expect to see eventual improvements in the general economic
condition and Kawasaki will reevaluate its road racing position as we
monitor those issues,” said Stjernstrom.

  • http://www.buyshitdostuff.com/ Eric H.

    Well, there you go.

    And GM murdered Saab on the very same day…

    Those US sub-prime loans are LOVING US LOOONG TIME…!!!

    Best Regards,

    Eric H.

  • http://www.mpnmag.com Doug

    True, AMA Pro racing is in a difficult spot right now, and an impossible economy is certainly not helping. However, I really don’t think this much damnation is in order. I don’t necessarily agree with how H-D is going about protecting its brand in this economy, however, they’re taking necessary steps to remain viable in the long term—something Kawasaki and Honda must do now, too.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I’d simply rather see manufacturers say something like: “We rode the wave of boomers spending more money than they had to its very limit without having the forethought to re-invest some of those record profits in developing new markets and chasing new customers and now that lack of vision has bitten us in the ass, our bad.” Rather than blaming some outside, all-powerful, non-understandable force for all their ills. Doing so would, at the very least, demonstrate that they’re learning from their mistake.

      • Sean Smith

        I was actually gonna something about how nobody buys the green bikes (at least around here) because they don’t want to be a rolling monster ad or be associated in any way with jason briton and the like. Kawasaki has big problems with brand image right now, and in the ultra close and competitive 600 and 1000 class bikes, that means a lot. Suzuki has (had) AMA, Yamaha has WSBK, MotoGP and SX, and at least honda makes an awesome CRB1000 right now.

        But what you said basically works pretty well too. Like the honda safety warnings always say: “Stupid Hurts.”

      • robotribe

        “Rather than blaming some outside, all-powerful, non-understandable force for all their ills.”
        Word. Still, I don’t wholeheartedly agree with the notion that Kawasaki hasn’t been making an effort towards “developing new markets and chasing new customers”. I give them props in that regard for at least offering non-race oriented bikes like the Versys, Ninja 650R, ER-6n, at least having some option in the 500cc range (Ninja 500R) and taking the 250cc market seriously with their very tasteful and attractive update to the Ninja 250R. Honda doesn’t even come close with their model range. You could say that makes Honda conservative, boring or both, but I give Kawasaki credit for at least having a credible model range compared to Honda or even Yamaha.

        As someone’s already mentioned, the 600 & 1000cc sport bike segment is overcrowded, especially in the USA with its limited audience and lack of diversity in motorcycle ridership. Kawasaki’s been lost in the crowd. Hell, even BMW is entering the 1000cc sport bike market with a competitively-priced bike with tons of early promise and praise.

        Kawasaki needs to find its niche. It’s lost in its own ambiguous identity. AMA/DMG would have done little to help even if Kawasaki continued its participation.

      • Sean Smith

        One more thing: You’re kind of an asshole for posting that pic. Now all I can so is sit here and fantasize about old superbike racing. That’s not something I can just torrent. It’s kind of like the best still shot of porn I’ve ever seen, but I can’t buy the movie. Bastards.

        That shot looks about a hundred times gnarlier than anything I’ve ever seen.

      • Uh-huh

        Right Wes, like you and everybody else here aren’t just as responsible. Who’s scapegoating now? It’s like when everybody bought SUV’s, then when gas prices skyrocketed it was the manufacturers’ collective fault for selling what the market wanted. We voted with our dollars. We ALL have a part of this.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          It’s not about name calling, it’s about finally moving forward by acknowledging the mistakes that got us here in the first place and then figuring out ways to fix them.

          The main reason the car industry is now recovering slowly is that they have been able to spin new, non-SUV products into their mix. Ford has the Fusion and Fiesta, GM has the Malibu, some great enthusiast products and soon, the Volt, Chrysler doesn’t have shit and will soon fail as a result. I’d like to see bike manufacturers be more like Ford and GM than Chrysler by finding ways to appeal to non-Boomer customers.

          Sure Kawasaki has the Ninja 250, but that’s possibley the least sexy motorcycle on the planet. Would a nicer looking, higher spec cafe racer or naked version sell better, even at a premium? Maybe, but people in their teens, twenties and thirties have been so ignored by the industry for so long that it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible to bring them into the fold now.

        • generic1776

          Wow, someone feels guilty. :P I’ll admit I do not quite understand how you are expressing a collective guilt of the USA for the poor decisions of DMG/AMA.

          Is it a failure to purchase bikes on our part? If so, the decisions of DMG/AMA was to pull the manufacturers out racing only exacerbates that issue.

          Is it the failure to attract non-motorcycling advertisers to the AMA? I don’t see any soft-drink (non-energy drink) sponsors currently, laundry detergent sponsors, heck not even Johnson&Johnson selling the latest in band-aids. But is the loss of sponsorship is due to low viewers/direct measurable growth in sales numbers.

          Which really gets down to the primary way people would view the sport, TV.

          TV production of motorcycle racing in the US sucks. Every single camera shot is a closeup and cuts from bike to bike so there is no actual perspective of the race as a continuous flow. Most races are also edited to the point where it seems you only watch 5 laps of a 30 lap race.

          The commentators are also a bit to be desired. You need real moto-journalists and past racers as commentators. They need to have a passion for the sport and an ability to communicate eloquently a tasteful mix of play-by-play action as well as motonews/history/trivia.

          Just go find a copy of the Indianapolis GP from 2009. Watch the British Eurosport, BBC and Speed versions of the same race. The race is the same race, but the production in the USA sucks. It is not surprising we can’t get an audience.

          Oh, but the domination of Suzuki (Mladin and Spies) ruined it!

          Then Spies makes World Superbike Champion in a single year racing tracks he’s never seen before and Mladin contemplates the potential move to the World stage himself.

          An analogous hypothetical situation would be Valentino Rossi racing AMA and his success being discounted as riding a cheater bike.

          The death of Superbike racing in the USA is not due to the people (AMA/DMG superbike isn’t a communist sport– it is a wholly owned property of the AMA/DMG), but due to the decisions of the AMA/DMG and the poor production they release through Speed.

          (eh, the last paragraph reads poorly, but I think it says what I meant to convey)

    • Tom

      What exactly is Harley doing to remain viable long term?

  • vic

    kawasaki is having a really bad year,more so than then any other jap manuf.i don’t think that explains in full why they quit but it’s one of the causes

  • Tim

    Well, I was only going to watch WSB and MotoGP anyway…

    • Hangar4

      Me too!!!

      I have always seen Kawasaki as the bastard child when it comes to the Japanese manufacturers so it comes as no surprise that they are pulling out of everything. Maybe they can use this as an opportunity to get it together so they can come back strong. I like seeing the ridiculous green in the pack so hopefully it’s sooner than later.

  • generic1776

    I love the Kawasaki product, especially the 636 from a few years back and the new 10r is still pretty sick.

    I was a little disappointed with the Concourse 1400, there were some fit and finish issues with latches on the change dish tray being flimsy. Overall the 1400 is a beautiful bike though and a far better value per dollar than than the BMW K1300GT.

    But Kawisaki is like Honda, the motorcycles are a good “get the name out” side of the business, but they gain the majority of their business from the “Kawasaki Heavy Industries” side of the house. They made a huge milestone this week when the Boeing 787 flew. (Kawasaki makes portions of the fusalage)

    I think pulling out of the DMG racing is a smart idea, it is a waste of money and factory racing without fans at the races or anybody watching on TV.

  • http://www.urbandirtbike.com gregorbean

    Kawasaki Daytona Superbike 1980, good Lawson footage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4A306MeDDU&feature=related

    Kawasaki AMA Superbike Laguna Seca 1979 Race, good Spencer footage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NS6Sc1T09c

  • The Grudz

    Despite Kawasaki’s current economic situation, I think their lack of future participation in the AMA/DMG series is also just another indicator of how little regard the industry has for America’s biggest motorcycle racing group.

  • http://IMO... Superbikemike

    another one bites the dust……wake up dmg, enthusiasts and race fans alike wish the ama had the rights to our beloved superbike racing back…. you guys make the ama run superbike series from just a few years ago look like gods…. dmg you SUCK….. please just stick with your shitty nascrap and let us two wheel guys alone…..

  • Botswana Meat Commission FC

    I was actually gonna something about how nobody buys the green bikes (at least around here) because they don’t want to be a rolling monster ad or be associated in any way with jason briton and the like. Kawasaki has big problems with brand image right now, and in the ultra close and competitive 600 and 1000 class bikes…

    I’m sure they said the same thing about Kwak back when the H1 and H2s were tearing up the streets.

    Kawasaki has ALWAYS been about producing affordable bikes with huge horsepower. They don’t try to match Honda or BMW’s fit and finish. They just give you massive power for not a lot of money. I love that about Kawasaki.

    I have a family member who owns a 78 KZ1000 and every time I ride it I’m amazed by by how much power it has for a 31-year-old bike.

  • Racing?

    The U.S. market is dominated by the sales of “Cruiser” style motorcycles. Over 50% of U.S. sales is a cruiser style bike. People who buy cruiser style bikes are not interested in motorcycle racing. They, like the typical Harley rider, are just interested in riding a motorcycle dressed up like a pirate and making as much noise as possible thru the exhaust. Check out the Honda or Yamaha web sites for England for example. Why would Honda or Yamaha spend a lot of money getting there full line of bikes approved for the U.S. market when over 1/2 of that market would not even be interested in them. The U.S. market has a Harley mentality. Europeans think the cruiser style motorcycle is a joke. When I was in England I spent a lot of time trying to explain why people buy cruiser bikes in the U.S. They could not understand why someone would buy and out of date motorcycle like a Harley. Cruiser sales are a very small portion of sales in Europe. They are not allowed to put loud exhaust on them in Europe. That kills the Harley sales. Can you imagine if that was a law in the U.S. Harley would be out of business as 90% of Harley riders only have a Harley because they think they sound cool with loud exhaust. Motorcycle racing is a huge event in Europe. Motorcycle racing is not even an event in the U.S. Sturgis gets 600,000 bikers for a 1 week event(Cruiser bikes and beer). There might be 10,000 or so people at Elkart Lake, Wisconsin to watch the motorcycle races.

  • Peter

    The Harley bashing is ridiculous. Here’s same data, make your own conclusions:

    Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Demographics
    The average U.S. retail purchaser of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a married
    male in his mid to late forties (nearly two-thirds of U.S. retail purchasers of new
    Harley-Davidson motorcycles are between the ages of 35 and 54) with a median
    household income of approximately $84,300. Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. retail
    sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles are to buyers with at least one year of
    education beyond high school and 30% of the buyers have college degrees.
    Approximately 12% of U.S. retail motorcycle sales of new Harley-Davidson
    motorcycles are to female buyers. [4]

    2009 Quarterly Motorcycle Shipments (UNITS)
    ———————————
    HARLEY-DAVIDSON Q1
    ———————————
    Sportster 16,776
    Custom 31,919
    Touring 25,975
    74,670

    Domestic 52,710
    International 21,960
    74,670

    BUELL® UNITS 2,441
    MV AGUSTA® UNITS 685 [8]

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Wait, where in this article do you see Harley bashing?!

  • Racing?

    Who cares about Harley Davidson. I do not see any so called Harley bashing in this post. Take all your Harley numbers etc to a Harley forum.

  • Peter

    Gentlemen,
    I will indeed take my numbers to a Harley forum, but since I don’t ride a Harley I don’t know one so I sent them here. There’s quite a few thinly veiled anti-Harley/cruiser statements in that comment. I thought some numbers would allow a more objective analysis of why American Superbike has taken a nose dive this season. The banal beer-swilling, pirate attired, loud exhaust Harley/cruiser rider is not the problem.

  • Racing?

    The Japanese bike manufactures do not want to expend a lot of money for racing in a country that has over 60% of its bike sales in the cruiser line. There racing dollar gets a lot more bang in the Euro countries. I am not knocking a Harley. If that’s what you want to ride so be it. But then don’t start crying when the bike manufactures decide to pull there racing programs here in favor of a European venue. I spent a lot of time hanging around bike shops in England and Europe. There are some wonderful bikes produced that will never see the light of day in the U.S. Manufactures will not spend the money getting there full line of bikes approved in a country that has most of its sales in cruiser style bikes. There just is not enough interest in motorcycle racing in the U.S. The Harley riders are not the least bit interested in motorcycle racing, unless it involves a Harley and that will never happen.

  • ducman

    I’m surprised that more of these comments aren’t directed towards the AMA/DMG “management” of the series. The unbelievably arrogant France family has made huge promises that they can’t keep. Where is all the sponsorship support that they promised? Sure the economy’s tough, but I just don’t think that the inept France family is getting enough ‘credit’ for the failure of the AMA/DMG series. (or for the sagging fortunes of NASCAR, but that’s for another forum)

    I don’t fault any of these manufacturers (Kawi, Honda) for bailing out of the AMA/DMG series.

  • generic1776