The entire professional road racing community has been up in arms since DMG (now officially AMA Pro Racing) began making their presence felt. The complaints have been long, loud, and many. A person less magnanimous than me might even call it incessant whining. But I won’t do that. I understand what all the furor is about. The road racers were, more or less, happy with the status quo, and DMG have begun shaking that up — not always in a positive direction.
DMG may have misjudged some things. They will undoubtedly make mistakes. But they will learn — and learn fast. They will learn fast for one simple reason — they are in a market-driven situation. The new AMA Pro racing is a business and they are accountable to shareholders. The amount of money they return to shareholders is an unambiguous measuring stick of their success, and to succeed they must please two very important constituencies — the race fans and the manufacturers who support racing (at some level they have to please the racers as well, but not so much as the other two.)
This is a huge difference from the old AMA. In The Non-Profit Professional I wrote about the problems and inherent conflicts the old AMA business model presented to professional racing. The old AMA was a non-profit. They were answerable to no one, really. They ended up serving the whims of the manufacturers like a cheap hooker. The fans had no influence. The racers had no influence. They vacillated, prevaricated, and obfuscated. Flat track racing was dead. Outdoor MX was dying. And there was no one to hold the old AMA accountable.
This isn’t true for the new AMA Pro Racing. It’s a business. With profit targets and hard measures and clear goals and objectives. That’s how businesses are run. That’s how pro racing should always be run. Yes, you have to love a sport — you can’t set the same profit targets for flat track racing that you do for mega-million-dollar rock concerts. You can’t treat it like selling laundry detergent to soccer moms. You have to understand the needs and preferences of the fan base, and you have to deliver the marketing vehicle that manufacturers want.
The new AMA Pro racing has the experience of running the most successful motorsports franchise in the world. They know what it takes. They just need time to get acclimated to the new environment. But they will do it. At least that’s where I’m placing my bets.