Rival motorcycle racing series announced
The battle of American road racing is on.
The Motorcycle Industry Council announced their intention to run a Superbike championship to rival the Daytona Motorsports Group-run AMA Superbike Championship in 2009 in what could easily be a repeat of the CART-IRL split that all but killed open wheel racing in the U.S.
The announcement had been expected for weeks, ever since one of the principals suggested it was to be announced around the time of the Virginia International Raceway round of the AMA Superbike Championship. No explanation was given for the delay.
The USSB Championship will initially have two classes, U.S. Super Bike for heavyweight motorcycles and U.S. Sport Bike for middleweights.
Though no schedule was announced, it's believed the series will have eight events, running from April through October, at many of the traditional road race courses the first year. The series will not visit Daytona International Speedway or Auto Club Speedway, both of which are owned by the International Speedway Corporation, a publicly held company based in Daytona Beach, Florida.
It's also believed that the American distributors of three of the four Japanese companies will be involved and that they'll choose not to homologate, or offer a contingency program, for the Daytona Motorsports Group-run AMA Superbike Championship. Yamaha has pledged to take part in the France family run DMG NASCARized-series.
The release comes as the Daytona Motorsports Group was hoping to announce its 2009 schedule. Last week, track owners and operators were sent contracts which were to be returned by Monday, Sept. 9. They were told the announcement of a schedule would follow shortly.
Not everyone was happy with the contract. One promoter asked that amendments be included in the contract that allowed for an out-clause if there wasn't a significant television package or manufacturer involvement. However, two current promoters said they hadn't been contacted by anyone at the MIC and knew nothing about the MIC series.
The following release is from the Motorcycle Industry Council:
Motorcycle Industry Council To Launch The USSB Championship
Factory Riders Offered a New National Series
IRVINE, Calif., Sep. 10, 2008 - The Motorcycle Industry Council, the national trade association representing top motorcycle manufacturers and 300-plus other members, will launch a new professional road racing series next year in the United States.
The MIC has formally established USSB, Inc., and already is at work creating a national championship for 2009 that will take place at major racing facilities, feature factory superbike teams and rules similar to those now in place - rules encouraging technological development that advances motorcycle engineering.
The USSBSM Championship is being designed to carry on America's tradition, spanning more than two decades, of world-class superbike racing that showcases the nation's best riders on the best motorcycles in the country. The premier class, U.S. Super Bike, will invite teams running the highly developed, factory-backed, fan-favorite racing motorcycles (1,000cc fours and larger-displacement twins) that have long been the basis for superbike racing. The inaugural USSB series will include U.S. Sport Bike, a 600cc category similar to the World Supersport Championship and others.
"We initiated USSB because next year it will offer the only racing series in America for unrestrained factory superbikes and their teams, as well as those who aspire to join their ranks and compete with them," said MIC President Tim Buche. "We recognize the strong support for this level of racing, among enthusiasts, among manufacturers and among riders. With the other series set to abandon superbikes as we've come to know them, USSB will fill that void."
Buche said the MIC engaged in a development process for USSB that takes into consideration the various needs of industry members, manufacturers, track owners, sponsors, racing fans and riders, as well as the desire to grow the sport of road racing. In particular, there is a need to allow manufacturers to use road racing to advance research and development and improve future production motorcycles available to consumers. Buche said that the MIC possesses the resources, the capabilities, the access to talent, and the ability to contract with various groups and firms, to meet all of those needs and wishes.
"This is America, a big country with a big motorcycle market that deserves a world-class championship with full-on factory bikes raced by star riders," said Ty van Hooydonk, USSB managing director. "The USSB Championship is our answer. We want to steer away from engine restrictors, away from mandated power-to-weight ratios, spec tires and spec ECUs. We want to set the stage for racing teams to compete, on the track, in the R&D shops, in the way they develop their bikes and help develop production bikes, in how they develop their engineering staffs and crews, and their riders, too. Let them do what they do best and go racing."
The not-for-profit MIC has established USSB, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, to be the owner-operator of the series. As the sole shareholder for the subsidiary, the MIC board will appoint the USSB Board of Directors that will then function independently and guide the series.
To maintain the integrity of the competition, USSB, Inc. also will establish an affiliated, but independent sanctioning body, USSB Sanctioning, Inc., which will employ the series commissioner, a racing CEO who will have ultimate responsibility for all competition-related aspects of the series. USSB, Inc. will serve as the series promoter responsible for developing series sponsors, managing series communications and partnering with stakeholders and others to present the series.
Four stakeholder groups will each have a voice and participate in series governance: riders, manufacturers, sanctioning and promoters.
USSB will help establish a riders association that will then operate independently as it represents all of the on-track competitors in the series. Participating manufacturers will form their own committee through the MIC and represent factories. Sanctioning will oversee tech inspection, rules and regulations and will manage race organization and administration. Promoters will include individual promoters and a racetrack association in collaboration with USSB, Inc.
Marketing and Communication
"We're going to have a compelling story to share," van Hooydonk said. "The USSB Championship will feature the nation's top level of motorcycle racing, with phenomenal riders capable of competing in any league, and high-tech superbikes that are among the fastest on Earth. We have a great deal of experience with marketing the story of motorcycling, and we will apply all of it to road racing." USSB news and updates will be available 24/7 at USSBCHAMPIONSHIP.COM. The site will be live Friday September 12, 2008.
USSB, Inc. will establish a communications campaign to improve visibility and interest in road racing, include all types of media, and bring in new fans while maintaining its enthusiast base. For 20 years, the MIC has generated major mainstream media coverage through Discover Today's Motorcycling. DTM promotes responsible riding by generating positive print, broadcast and online coverage, and through a responsive news bureau that annually fields thousands of inquiries from journalists nationwide.
DTM staff regularly work with national media, based in New York and other key markets, on dozens of motorcycle stories every year. Recent DTM placements include coverage with "Good Morning America," the New York Times, USA Today, Popular Mechanics, Maxim, Playboy, and even La Opinion, the nation's largest Hispanic newspaper. DTM generated major media for the landmark "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and hosted its own "Rockefeller Center Motorcycle Shows," seen by tens of thousands of visitors in Midtown Manhattan.
The MIC is a not-for-profit, national trade association with its executive office in Irvine, Calif., and a government relations office near Washington, D.C. The MIC preserves, protects and promotes motorcycling and the motorcycle industry. This is accomplished through government relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, and activities involving technical and regulatory issues.
The MIC also:
* Conducts the "census" of motorcycling, the MIC Owner Survey, which is the most comprehensive demographic look at American motorcyclists.
* Tracks new-unit sales through its Retail Sales Report.
* Created Partners Standard Protocol (PSP) which defines industry standards allowing dealers to exchange business data with suppliers from within their dealership management system. PSP is being currently implemented in powersports and other industries.
* Hosts the annual MIC Communications Symposium, bringing together MIC members and a variety of nationally renowned experts on the economy, new business opportunities and American psychographics.
The MIC represents more than 300 manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV parts and accessories and members of allied trades.