One year after the successful debut of the WPSA ATV Tour racing series, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is re-branding its All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) racing series as the AMA Pro ATV Championship.
AMA’s Pro ATV series will be based on motocross-style competition and will feature 450cc machines. Other changes will result in the addition of indoor racing events, a 250cc-based class in 2008 and possibly increased publicity for the series.
The AMA’s other series include the AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship presented by Parts Unlimited.
“With the continued sales growth and availability of sport ATVs in the United States and the expanding popularity of racing, the time is right to launch this championship,” said AMA CEO Patti DiPietro. “This discipline will receive the same level of support as our other pro racing series and will help elevate the awareness and professionalism of ATV competition.”
DiPietro added the new pro series will run in conjunction with the current ATVA events, with a goal of creating a better progression for amateur riders hoping to become professionals.
“We will issue pro licenses to top riders competing in ATVA competition,” she said. “These competitors will have the opportunity to earn an AMA Pro No. 1 plate and be recognized as an AMA champion.”
Ken Rogers, vice president of racing at the AMA, said the pro licenses will help race teams attract additional sponsorship and bolster the riders’ profile.
“We’re hoping to be able to offer more exposure to the series and the racers,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get more sponsorship to attract more crowds [and] get some more television coverage.”
He said the event will still have 12 racing events for the 2007 season, but noted the AMA is looking to incorporate additional indoor events for 2008.
Television coverage of the series will remain on the Versus network for the 2007 season, but Rogers said the company is exploring other options for the following season.
While the AMA would like live television coverage for the races, Rogers said that is difficult to obtain in the current TV market.
“Obviously everybody would love to have a live TV package,” he said.
Promotional duties for individual races will remain independent, as it was under the ATVA name. But the AMA plans marketing to increase the series’ profile.
Rogers said the competing WPSA ATV Tour, which debuted in 2006 and attracted several big-name pro class riders and offered larger purses than the former ATVA series, was not a factor in the organization’s decision to re-brand the series.
“We’re aware that they’re out there, of course, but it was independent of that and wasn’t prompted by that,” he said.
A large part of the decision, he added, was the organization’s desire to cultivate and retain younger riders as they move up through the series’ ranks.
The AMA also is working to expand the manufacturer contingency program, which rewards racers for representing winning OEMs. Rogers also said the series will add a 250cc class at the direction of the industry.
The WPSA ATV Tour was the first major ATV racing series to include 250cc machines.
A big change for riders will be the formation of a rules-making committee, like in other AMA series, which gives every licensed rider the chance to propose rule changes and comment on others’ proposals.
For the fans, a new Web site is being created that will feature real-time scoring information on race days.
“The ATV industry, both as a sales industry and as a racing industry, is one of the largest,” Rogers said. “We think that as the AMA gets involved, we can offer some increased level of exposure that will draw more fans and draw more sponsorship and just make it a healthy and thriving sport top-to-bottom.” psb
Copyright 2006 Powersports Business