April 16, 2009 - 02:43 PM
The AMA Grand National Championship event scheduled for the MetraPark Raceway Half-Mile, in Billings, Montana, on August 1 has been canceled, this according to Michael Marsh of Recreational Action Sports Entertainment, the company promoting the event.
In an email sent to Cycle News today (Thursday, April 16), Marsh said:
“I'm disappointed to report that we have had to pull the AMA flat track motorcycle race event in Billings for 2009. In large part the downturn in the economy was primarily responsible for our inability to raise sufficient capital / sponsorship to meet the pre-event cash needs… I just can't put my name on something unless I am sure we can pay the bills at the end of the day. I was left significantly short of the up front costs necessary to sign the AMA contract, so Monday notice was given to pull us from the schedule. Without the primary event (the AMA flat track race), the difficult decision was made to cancel The Warm Up in its entirety for 2009.”
Marsh sounded hopeful that the event may return in the future.
“I'm very sorry for the riders, the dedicated flat track fans and the city of Billings that we can't pull 2009 together,” he said. “but I’m looking forward to working with you again next year (2010).”
Calls and emails to Mike Kidd, AMA Pro Racing Director of Flat Track, have not been returned.
With the Billings cancellation the AMA Grand National Championship is now down to 10 race weekends and 13 rounds total. That marks the fewest number of races in the championship in 48 years.
The Billings race debuted last year and was unique in that it featured the Grand National Singles on a Half-Mile track. The venue and organization of last year’s race received high marks, although the race suffered poor attendance, generously estimated at the time to around 2500 spectators. Kenny Coolbeth won the event.
In a February interview with Cycle News, Kidd said AMA Pro Racing was working to add a race at Rapid City, South Dakota, the Tuesday after Billings in order to give riders more of an incentive to make the trip out West. With Billings off the schedule the Rapid City event now seems unlikely to materialize.
The next round of the AMA Grand National Championship is slated for Springfield, Illinois, May 23-24.
What a great disappointment! Last year was the first time that a race was held at the Metra Park in Billings and we were really looking forward to this summer not only for Billings but also for the Sturgis / Rapid City races.
The sport of flat track motorcycle racing is in serious need of support. Whether it is sponsorship support of scheduled events or simply participating in forums such as this.
Who will keep the sport alive for future generations if it is allowed to wither away from neglect and apathy?