Recently, Racer Productions decided that the woods-racing events formerly known as the AMA-sanctioned Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC) would not be sanctioned with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) for 2012. As you can imagine, this unexpected news came as a disappointment to us and the racers who look to AMA competition as the gold standard for high-quality racing that is fair and fun to all who love competing on motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
We have attempted to work with Racer Productions since late last year, with the goal of keeping their woods-racing events under the AMA umbrella. Ultimately, the two parties could not find common ground, despite a recently signed 5-year agreement for Racer Production's sister company, MX Sports, to continue promoting the AMA Amateur Motocross National Championships.
Racer Productions has cited the recent $10 AMA dues increase for new members, to $49 a year, as the reason for its decision. However, existing AMA members can renew their memberships at the old level of $39 a year -- for up to three years -- through March 31, 2012.
Of course, there is no membership dues increase whatsoever for AMA Life Members, who pay no annual dues to enjoy AMA-sanctioned competition events and receive other benefits of AMA membership.
The membership dues increase was a difficult decision, especially in these challenging economic times. In fact, the AMA held fast to the $39 dues structure for 12 years, during which time the cost for everything associated with racing-not to mention the day-to-day costs of doing business-continued to rise.
We simply could not continue to serve the best interests of AMA members in 2012 while charging 1999 prices. The $10 increase-the price of less than 3 gallons of gas-allows us to deliver on the AMA mission of promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling. At the same time, AMA members also will continue to enjoy AMA Roadside Assistance, American Motorcyclist magazine, money-saving benefits that can more than cover the cost of membership, along with access to AMA competition.
Although Racer Productions has dropped AMA event sanctions for its woods-racing series, they have stated they remain committed to the AMA. While the AMA and its members appreciate this verbal backing, the AMA needs more than words to succeed. We need real, concrete support to successfully defend your right to race.
Over the past decade, the threats to motorcycling have increased exponentially, and the AMA has been there fighting for your right to race. Most recently, AMA members helped defeat the so-called "lead law" that would have banned the sale of kids dirtbikes beginning this year.
This was an important victory not only for riders, but also for race promoters because, as you know, young riders represent a significant portion of the field on race day. Working together, AMA members, the motorcycle industry, motorcycle clubs and promoters defeated this ban. While there were many hands in this victory, we can assure you that grassroots-powered, individual member-based organizations hold the greatest sway on Capitol Hill, and the combined effort of individual AMA members was the primary force behind this win.
Without the lead law's defeat, the ability of youth-racing programs to produce the racers and riders of tomorrow would have vanished, and the livelihood of those in the race promotion business (including Racer Productions) would have been crippled.
On behalf of its members, the AMA remains proud of its part in this landmark victory. At the same time, preserving a fair model of amateur competition remains a core mission of the AMA.
As AMA racers, our competitors have a definitive link to nine decades of motorcycle competition heritage -- and the greatest racers this country has ever produced -- all of whom wrote their names in the history books as members of the AMA.
Of course, in addition to supporting the future of the sport, being a member of the AMA comes with significant other benefits, including: The right to compete in AMA-sanctioned series and events, from local hare scrambles to the country's premier off-road racing series, the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Championship and the AMA Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship.
•Only AMA members can win AMA National Championships and the unrivaled status that comes with an AMA National No. 1 plate.
•Access to AMA Roadside Assistance, which provides you with peace of mind when you travel, and covers personal vehicles, trailers and even street motorcycles when you're on the road.
•A subscription to American Motorcyclist magazine, which keeps you connected to the world of motorcycling and informs you of the battles we're fighting regionally and in Washington, D.C., as well as the quarterly AMA Racer supplement that highlights AMA amateur racers from all disciplines.
•Price savings benefits from a long list of partners, including parts suppliers, hotel chains and insurance in the form of the Rider Accident Medical Plan (RAMP).
•Exclusive access to events governed by the AMA Amateur Competition Rulebook, written by AMA Congress, the elected body of representatives from across the country. The AMA Amateur Competition Rulebook is only available to AMA-chartered clubs and promoters running AMA-sanctioned events.
Make no mistake. The forces aligned against motorcycling will act quickly to kill our sport at the first sign of a divided motorcycling community. Even though AMA membership is no longer a part of Racer Productions' non-sanctioned woods-racing events, we trust you will choose to still fight the good fight by remaining an AMA member.