When the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule was released last Wednesday, there were 16 scheduled races for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Following a 2-Wheel Professional Racers Organization meeting Sunday morning at the U.S. Nationals the consensus seems to be the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders would like to see their schedule modified to include the Four-Wide Nationals (April 19-21) at Charlotte, N.C., and Epping, N.H. (June 20-23).
According to Steve Johnson, president of the 2-Wheel Professional Riders Organization, their meeting, held in his pit area, was attended by all 21 drivers who attempted to qualify at Indy.
“Epping is a new market and it is a very popular motorcycle market,” stated Johnson. “And, it is our responsibility to keep in touch with what’s going on with the sport. Graham (Light) came to us recently and said, 'look what’s the interest in the Epping?' I’m just polling the people here and I’m getting a good pulse of what is going on and I will take the data back to him.”
Light, NHRA’s senior vice president-racing operations, addressed modifying the 2013 Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule on Sunday.
“Yeah, it is a possibility to modify it,” Light said. “I want to take them to Epping too. Epping is a natural because it is a new market that we think is going to be a huge event. There also is a huge motorcycle event the weekend before. So there is going to be a lot of motorcycle people and interest in that whole market and it would make sense to follow it up and have Pro Stock Motorcycle at that event and we will do that. We just need to figure out where the event comes from.”
Pro Stock Motorcycles competed at the inaugural Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte in 2010, but have not been back the past two years. Pro Stock Motorcycles are scheduled to race at Charlotte (Sept. 13-15) in 2013, in the traditional two-lane racing.
“The Four-Wide with motorcycles was because of camera angles,” Light said, when asked why the Pro Stock Motorcycles haven’t been back at the Four-Wide Nationals the last two years. “It really didn’t do justice to that category on television. Bikes are so much smaller and for the television it is not in their best interest in my opinion.”
Light said if the 2013 Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule was modified it would still remain at 16 races.
“Any more than 16 is a huge economic impact on the lesser financed teams,” Light said. “We know how expensive it is to go down the road and (stay in) hotels and run the bikes themselves. I do not think, in the economic climate that we are currently in, that it is wise to add a bunch more races to their schedule. We would just have to make some adjustments with other events. I can get with a couple of guys, bounce some ideas off, and look at the schedule. Obviously, the track operators, I would want to talk to them. Some of them really, really want them (Pro Stock Motorcycles) and others may not be as keen. It has to work for the tracks. It has to work for the racer, it has to work for television, and it has to work for our space. Some pit areas are very confined; we do not need to be adding rigs and so on. It is all a balance.”
Light added it would not take a lot of time to modify the 2013 Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule.
“We could do that in the next week or so,” Light said. “You try and run any category where there is fan appeal, sponsor appeal and where the teams want to participate,” Light said. “I think every team has its favorite race tracks and its least favorite. We do the same with the Pro Mod Series. We run 10 events and work very closely with Roger Burgess because he’s sponsoring that whole program. We try and place them in locations that do them the most benefit whether it be sponsor, fan appeal, whatever it is. The motorcycles in some areas have a great following and some they do not. It does not make sense to put them in areas where there is no following. It is a matter of getting all the pieces in the right place. We can do that in the next week or so.”
Johnson also believes he and the fellow Pro Stock Motorcycle riders need to make their class as appealing as possible.
“We have to represent and continually find ways to increase our brand,” Johnson said. “When we increase our brand it helps the brand of NHRA and when NHRA does better, obviously we do better. We want to position ourselves into being a very professional class and provide an opportunity for sponsors that might not have $3, $4 or $5 million to do a fuel car and want to put their water into motorsports and see what it does.”
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