The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) have ended their long-standing relationship, putting the future of U.S. vintage motorcycle racing in a strange new place. The AMA announced it would be running its own schedule of vintage motorcycle races at the Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio in July, and AHRMA announced it would put on its schedule of events in 2009, minus the Mid-Ohio round.
AHRMA has long been an AMA-sanctioned organization and used its AMA charter membership to secure insurance for their events through the AMA. AHRMA members also were required to be AMA members. That is obviously no longer the case. The seeds of the dispute stem from a series of lawsuits and countersuits begun in 2001 between AHRMA and New York attorney Rob Ianucci, owner of vintage motorcycle road-racing powerhouse Team Obsolete. The legal actions resulted in AHRMA's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and banning Ianucci from participating in any AHRMA events.
The legal skirmish also involved the AMA, whose charter said any member in good standing could participate in any AMA-sanctioned event. AHRMA's charter states the organization can exclude anyone for any reason, ergo the conflict with AMA's charter. The AMA says it paid almost $750,000 in legal fees before reaching an agreement with Mr. Ianucci.
AHRMA's website assures racers that their non-Mid-Ohio events will occur:
- "AHRMA members should be assured that we will be conducting all our currently scheduled events this year, in all disciplines, with the exception of those associated with Mid-Ohio in July, where we had previously teamed with the AMA to help build that event up to its current status.
- "We have obtained full insurance coverage for all our disciplines, and at a reduced cost to what was available through the AMA. We are also working toward offering a competitor personal injury insurance option.
- "AHRMA members will no longer be required to obtain annual AMA membership in addition to AHRMA membership. Look for additional announcement of new membership program options from AHRMA in the very near future."
It seems an odd move on the part of the AMA, which recently sold its pro road-racing series to Daytona Motorsports Group. It remains to be seen how many AHRMA racers will show up for the AMA's vintage racing event. Local racers contacted by the Handlebars were not planning to attend: "I can't reward the AMA and Ianucci for screwing up the event," one Knoxville AHRMA champion said. As of press time, AMA had not published rules for the road-racing events at Mid-Ohio, scheduled for July 24-26. The rules for the remaining classes can be viewed at the American Motorcyclist website, www.amadirectlink.com.