Heartland Park Topeka is a newly sanctioned round for AMA Pro Racing and the Rockstar Makita Suzuki racer says the track is not safe enough to race on.
“We go to a few venues that still have some safety issues, but many of these venues have made vast improvements over the past few years,” says Mladin. “Sanctioning new venues with numerous safety flaws is just plain ridiculous.”
Track officials are making modifications to the circuits to address safety concerns raised by several racers, but Mladin says their efforts are not enough, especially considering teams have not been allowed to test at the track.
“I will never accept the lowering of safety standards for the sake of a few people making money,” says Mladin. “It is the young kids, the future of the sport that will bear the brunt of the worst of this. One day, the teams and riders need to come together for the well being of each other.”
Rockstar Makita Suzuki team manager Don Sakakura says he respects Mladin’s decision but Tommy Hayden and Blake Young will be racing.
“I can’t speak for our rider, Mat Mladin,” says Sakakura. “However, the team does respect his choice to not participate in this race meeting. Mat is a six-time AMA Superbike Champion and he has raced in other series and at tracks all over the world, so he understands that track safety is paramount. At the same time, the team appreciates that Heartland Park Topeka is doing everything humanly possible to make this track acceptable to the AMA riders. Currently, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden and Blake Young intend to participate in the race meeting and we hope that this weekend will be a safe and successful one for everyone.”
Mladin leads the AMA American Superbike championship standings and could clinch his seventh title at the July 31-Aug. 2 round at the Topeka, Kans., circuit by either maintaining or increasing his 126-point lead over Hayden.
Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki racer Jamie Hacking has also decided not to take part in the Heartland Park Topeka round after riding in the Friday morning practice session. An advocate for racing safety, Hacking is third in the Daytona Sportbike standings.