Why Superbike Shootout Is The Best Idea Ever

News, Racing -


Geico Superbike Shootout Presented by Yamaha

The AMA Pro Road Racing series has been struggling for years, ever since its takeover by the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG). Perhaps the most damning evidence of this has been the dwindling schedule, which this year contains only six rounds, and that only after the late addition of Laguna Seca. Venues that have been mainstays of the US road racing scene for years are missing, including Road Atlanta, Miller Motorsports Park, Virginia International Raceway and Sonoma Raceway. Gone are many of the major sponsors, manufacturer participation, and international attention.

While the racing itself in the past few seasons has been excellent, it’s become more difficult than ever for fans to see it, thanks to lackluster television coverage and a broadcasting team that, with a few notable exceptions, varied from annoying to incompetent. This year, what little television coverage there was dried up entirely, and the races will instead be streamed online. While the level of talent in the American national series remains high, up and coming riders are finding themselves without a venue suitable to demonstrate it, and thus find their way onto the world stage.

Enter one John Ulrich, stage left.

Ulrich has been one of the pillars of American road racing for decades. As editor of Roadracing World and owner of Team Hammer, which has raced professionally for more than three decades, he’s seen the series go through its ups and downs. His experience and knowledge lend weight to his voice in the paddock, and he’s not one to sit around and gripe when there’s a problem.

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Eyeing the incomprehensible 11-week gap between Daytona and Road America on the AMA Pro schedule, and noticing that (at the time) there were exactly zero rounds on the West Coast, Ulrich started making calls.

The dominos fell fast. Existing series operators (WERA, UtahSBA and AFM) jumped at the chance to co-host a round. Dunlop signed on to provide tire service. Geico Motorcycle came aboard as the title sponsor, and was joined by Yamaha North America as the presenting sponsor. MAVTV, operated by Lucas Oil Products, agreed to provide television coverage. In a matter of weeks, the Superbike Shootout became a full-fledged professional series, even at only three rounds in its first season.

The result is a three-round series dubbed the Geico Motorcycle Superbike Shootout presented by Yamaha, which has already drawn commitments from most of the top AMA teams. The Shootout will bring racing back to venues where it needs to be, with one round each at California Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Miller Motorsports Park. Aside from filling a gap in the calendar, the Shootout also fills the void of racing for fans in California, which boasts the largest population of motorcyclists in North America. It gives riders and teams much-needed exposure for their sponsors, which will help ensure their viability.

It is too soon to tell the fate of the AMA Pro series, but many believe it to be in its death throes. If that is the case, then the organization of a new series, by someone with the vision, experience and connections to make it a success, could not have come at a better time. Even if the AMA series survives, it will have to give credit to Ulrich, and the Superbike Shootout, for providing an essential lifeboat.

Find out more about the new series at SuperbikeShootout.com

  • Heather McCoy

    Oh thank God. Maybe now I can stop being mystified at how anyone could f*#k up an enterprise as exciting as motorcycle racing.

    • MichaelEhrgott

      Well….there’s always Dorna to continue your mystification.

  • Clint Keener

    Motorcycle racing is being replaced with Reebok® Crossfit Games.

    • Brian

      while I am NOT a Crossfitter, nor am I a supportor, I do have the ability to look at this from the other side. Look at the marketability for a second. A major sponsor ( Reebok) that has recognizable exposure to multiple demographics through their entire brand, paired with the exploding trend of Crossfit gyms popping up every major market. Now capitalize on that like any smart businessman, and exploit it through the best avenues possible after spending a little more money for development. You strike deals along the way due to the increased marketshare of popularity, and piggyback it with the booming health trends. You look at how the merchandise you have matched with said trend has penetrated the market for analysis. Voila, you now have a competition which promotes more of your product. If Dancing with the Stars wasn’t already what it was, you might see Zumba doing the same thing.

  • Jack Meoph

    About time someone stepped up to purge AMA/DMG from US motorcycle racing. I’m seriously surprised that the manufacturers didn’t take matters into their own hands and do something sooner. . DMG is a bunch of ignorant hillbillies who only know how to milk $$$$$ from other ignorant hillbillies by telling them that going around in circles really fast is racin’. They know F and ALL about anyone outside of their inbred demographic. Can you tell I don’t like them?

    • mbust

      No. Your diplomatic approach hides it well. ;-)

    • Michael Howard

      C’mon, man, tell us you REALLY feel. ;)

    • Piglet2010

      Well, (non)stock cars do have an advantage over motorcycles – large, relatively flat areas for sponsor logos that show up better on television.

      • Campisi

        “Hey, that guy’s turning left! I do that every day! This series gets me.”

  • William Connor

    This will only work if sponsors come to the party.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    Its important to explain why john made this all happen. less than 10 or so televised rounds mean not enough national exposure for headline team sponsors to justify the investment in US based professional racing. The AMA’s missteps in securing TV coverage last season were about the final straw for a declining series that the AMA has some fault and the position of our economy has some fault. These teams have high fixed costs and can’t operate without a minimum sponsor budget whose dollars have consistently been fixed to around 10-12 minimum televised rounds. They can’t drop down to a 6 round (AFM) budget and make it all work and that’s most likely where John’s fear and effort comes from, to save the status of professional racing in the USA.

  • Hooligan

    Come over to England and see how Superbike should be done. Exciting racing, proper circuits, enthusiastic spectators and a shoot out.