New Vision for AMA

The AMA Gets Out of Race Promotion

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Sep. 14, 2007
The American Motorcyclist Association is the voice for U.S. riders, performing a lot of good work on our behalf to be the voice of our sport. But it’s been under fire for several years, most notably for its Pro Racing arm that has been at the center of much controversy about its management of some of the biggest national race series in the world, including the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited and the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series. It also sanctions more than 4000 events n amateur and pro-am competition, AMA Racing sanctions over 4000 events in 24 different disciplines and supports 110,000-plus active members.

Pro Racing was spun off from the AMA as a for-profit operation about eight years ago, and critics of the new organization have been numerous and vocal about a lack of clear leadership and long-range planning and poor communications. Now called just AMA Racing, its days are coming to an end, joyously for its many detractors.

“The AMA’s core mission had become diluted because it had taken on more than it could reasonably accomplish,” said the organization’s CEO in an open letter. “Today, the AMA attempts to be a rights protector, publisher, member services provider, sanctioning body, promoter, entertainment firm, event management company and sports sponsorship and marketing outfit.  The AMA has never had the appropriate resources or infrastructure to be all of these things.”

Moving forward, the AMA will continue to sanction racing, but it’s now looking for outside companies to handle the promotion for all of its race series except Supercross, which is already promoted by Live Nation, an outside firm. “It is important to point out that our plan is not a negative response to a difficult problem but is instead a comprehensive plan for positive change,” said CEO Rob Dingman.

Below is the AMA’s surprisingly self-effacing explanation of how the company now sees itself, such as: “We must be humble and work harder to develop and maintain relationships. We must be more collaborative and do more to take the needs of our partners into consideration.”

This is definitely not the tone we’re accustomed to from the AMA. Read on for more on this important development.- Motorcycle.com

 
A New Vision For The American Motorcyclist Association

Pickerington, Ohio (September 14, 2007) – The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced that it is embarking on an ambitious new plan to fundamentally change the way it conducts business. Specifically, the AMA is getting out of the racing series promotions business and will begin seeking series promoters for each of its professional and amateur racing disciplines.

In making the announcement, AMA President/CEO Rob Dingman, said the organization must ultimately define the distinction between the traditional roles of a sanctioning organization and that of a series promoter. “It is clear to the senior management of the AMA that we must change the way we handle the business of racing,” said Dingman this week at a staff gathering near company headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio.

“Unfortunately the AMA’s role has become blurred and this lack of clarity has led to an erosion of confidence in the organization. The primary objectives of this new initiative are to improve AMA Championship Racing overall and realign the company so it can be successful in its historic mission of serving the needs of motorcyclists by pursuing, promoting and protecting the future of motorcycling.”

Dingman stated that the organization lacks the resources and infrastructure to effectively promote each of its series as well as govern the sport.

“We are not getting out of motorcycle racing,” noted Dingman. “We are redefining our role so we can focus exclusively on race sanctioning as opposed to race promotion. We will partner with companies that can effectively manage racing from the commercial perspective. We will sanction racing events and provide operational staff where it is required.”

The AMA’s new business model is the result of a top-down organizational analysis. “We took an honest look at ourselves and were able to identify those things that we are successful at as well as those that are lacking,” added Dingman. “This change will enable us to focus on the tasks that are more suited to our structure, abilities and resources.”

The AMA has already begun searching for series partners for all disciplines except AMA Supercross. 


A New AMA Vision

By Rob Dingman, AMA President/CEO

The mission of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is to serve the interests of motorcyclists by pursuing, promoting and protecting the future of motorcycling.  This is the primary reason I went to work for the association in 1994 as its Washington lobbyist.  Although I chose to leave the staff of the AMA in 1998, I continued to promote the interests of motorcyclists and remained a dues-paying member of the association to help ensure that motorcyclists would have a strong and effective voice in the preservation of the freedoms that so many riders take for granted. 

Earlier this year, I was named chief executive officer of the AMA.  Honored as I was to be entrusted with the leadership of the AMA, I quickly came to realize that I had returned to a much different organization than the one I had left just eight years previously.  The AMA’s core mission had become diluted because it had taken on more than it could reasonably accomplish.  Today, the AMA attempts to be a rights protector, publisher, member services provider, sanctioning body, promoter, entertainment firm, event management company and sports sponsorship and marketing outfit.  The AMA has never had the appropriate resources or infrastructure to be all of these things.

I recently presented a new vision for the organization to the association’s Board of Directors.  With the support of the Board, over the course of the next 24 months, the AMA will complete a thorough refinement of its business model as well as a comprehensive restructuring of its resources.  The primary objectives are as follows:

Rededicate the Association to Its Core Mission - First, and foremost the AMA is a membership organization.  We must provide service to our members in the pursuit, promotion and protection of the future of motorcycling. 

Strengthen and Improve the Menu of Member Benefits – This effort begins with being a better partner to the motorcycle industry in general.  We must be humble and work harder to develop and maintain relationships.  We must be more collaborative and do more to take the needs of our partners into consideration.  We must also recognize what motorcyclists want from their association and provide an enhanced menu of benefits that will attract greater numbers to the AMA.    
 
Team Environment and Staff Accountability – Each department and staff member will be responsible for adding value and benefits to the AMA membership. Staff must work together as a team rather than individual departments competing with each other for attention and resources.  I have described this to staff as OneAMA. This OneAMA concept provides a unifying theme that will drive staff development. Our members and our partners deserve a unified support team.

Improved Communications - As an advocacy organization, the AMA should have top-notch communications functions. The ability of the AMA to communicate both internally and externally will be enhanced and the organization will consolidate communications efforts so that we can present coherent and consistent messages.  During our restructuring you will see major improvements in these areas.

Government Relations - The government relations activity is the marquee benefit of the AMA and must be resourced accordingly.  We will be exploring a variety of options to enable the association to be even more effective in protecting the rights of motorcyclists. We hope to expand the size and scope of the Government Relations Department and plan to increase the resources we have on the ground dedicated to our lobbying efforts. This includes establishing a greater voice in Washington, as well as regional and local representation.

Racing Services - We are getting out of the racing promotions business and are already actively searching for series promoters for all race disciplines except for AMA Supercross.  We recognize that this transition will not occur overnight.  In the future, we will continue to sanction events and provide operational staff to assist qualified series promotions groups in the growth of the sport. 

To expand on this last point, success in the AMA’s racing endeavors has proven elusive because the AMA has mingled its role as sanctioning body with its role as series promoter. This has confused and frustrated the motorcycle racing community and as a result, the AMA has regularly found itself at the center of racing controversy.  This has caused the motorcycle industry not to support the AMA to the degree that it could. This lack of support has impeded the AMA’s ability to grow to its full potential and has therefore kept the organization from being as effective as it could be executing its core mission: pursuing, promoting and protecting the future of motorcycling.

The entertainment business is inherently very risky and as a nonprofit service organization we do not have resources to risk promoting series and events. Other sanctioning and series promotions organizations have hundreds of staff members to manage only a handful of series. By comparison, our racing infrastructure currently consists of 27 full time staff members who are managing 46 various types of racing activities.

It is important to point out that our plan is not a negative response to a difficult problem but is instead a comprehensive plan for positive change. The decision to get out of the series promotion business is not an abandonment of the AMA’s long racing tradition. It will transition the commercial aspects of racing to responsible groups and companies that will have the required resources and expertise to foster growth.

Over the coming months we will identify and engage partners who have the infrastructure to grow the racing disciplines that we wish to continue to govern as a sports sanctioning body. Entities who are interested in securing the promotional rights to any of our racing series are encouraged to contact us at their earliest convenience.

Now that our objectives have been clarified, we know that others may have insightful ideas that could help us improve our service levels and assist with our future growth.  In order to be a better provider of services to motorcyclists, we will be reaching out to our partners in the motorcycling community to seek guidance and input.  We have established a special email address for questions or comments and I encourage you to write us at oneama@ama-cycle.org.

I have a great deal of optimism about the future of the AMA.  There is a clear realization among the AMA's leadership that change is essential.  We are rededicating ourselves to our core mission of serving the interests and protecting the rights of motorcyclists.  In doing so, the AMA will transform itself into a world-class member services organization.  Challenging as it may be for our staff and stakeholders, the process has already begun.  The value of the vision will be determined by its execution. Ride safe.


Questions and Answers Regarding Latest AMA Announcement


Is the AMA getting out of motorcycle racing

No.  We are redefining our role in motorcycle racing so we can focus exclusively on race sanctioning as opposed to race promotion.  We will continue to service the needs of our racing members while we partner with companies that have the ability to effectively manage motorcycle racing from the commercial perspective.  Our role will be to sanction events and provide operational staffing where it is required.

 
Why is the AMA making these changes?

The primary mission of the AMA is to service its members in the pursuit, promotion and protection of the future of motorcycling.  Over time the AMA has drifted away from that mission because the association tried to accomplish too many things for which it didn’t have the necessary resources.  This has resulted in disappointment and dissatisfaction with the AMA among the motorcycling community.  AMA Senior management and the Board of Directors now recognize that it is not in the best interest of the company to continue in this direction and that it has become necessary to effect serious change to the organization.

 
It seems that the AMA has been in transition for a long time now.  Will this situation be resolved?

Yes. Simply stated, our goal is to restructure the AMA’s business plan so the organization can focus on its core competencies.  By objectively identifying what we should be doing – based on our mission statement, and utilizing our resources efficiently, we believe we can restore confidence in the association and become an effective membership organization again.
 

How will this help grow AMA Racing properties?

We will actively seek and engage with companies that can professionally manage the commercial side of racing.  This includes promotion, marketing and sponsorship, among other things.  These companies will be highly capitalized and possess the necessary infrastructure to accomplish that specific job.  The AMA does not have those abilities and past attempts in these areas have diluted the overall effectiveness and reputation of the organization.

 
How would you describe the future opportunities for motorcycle racing in the United States?

Overall we have tremendous growth opportunities in each of our major racing disciplines. With each we face unique challenges, but we are confident that with the proper promotional partners our programs can flourish.

 
Is this new initiative similar to what’s already in place with Live Nation with regards to AMA Supercross? 

Yes.  We have a great partnership with Live Nation which specifically defines their role, and ours, in the management of the AMA Supercross Series.  Live Nation is responsible for all of the commercial aspects of AMA Supercross and the AMA is responsible for the sporting aspects.  It’s an effective partnership that has resulted in the AMA Supercross series growing into the highest profile motorcycle racing series in the United States.  We believe we can raise the awareness of all our racing properties by applying this type of management structure and this will strengthen motorcycle racing for everyone. Another good example would be NHRA’s recent announcement that the commercial aspects of their series will be run by a newly formed entertainment company.

 
What is the timeframe for the AMA to effect these changes?

We have already started and expect the process to take two to three years. Therefore we will continue seeking series sponsorship until such time that we are no longer the group managing the commercial aspects of each series.

 
Will the AMA name continue to be associated with motorcycle racing?

Yes. It is our intention that all racers will continue to pursue AMA #1 plates in all disciplines
 

Will the AMA still license riders?

Yes.  As part of the role of the sanctioning body, it will remain the responsibility of the AMA to determine rider eligibility and qualifications through a licensing process.
 

What will the AMA do with amateur racing?

Our goal is to work with good firms to strengthen the entire infrastructure for the sport and grass roots racing is our most important group of activities within racing. Only a few riders get to run an AMA Supercross, Motocross, or Superbike event, but thousands of riders participate in our amateur racing programs. In a future with solid series promoter partners, our amateur racing series should grow and prosper. It is very important that our amateur and professional programs are prioritized equally, and where it’s appropriate, coordinated together as this is the foundation of the system that produces our annual AMA Champions. There are already AMA amateur and Pro/Am series where we work with other series and track promoters together so our new approach to racing overall, should continue to drive the growth at the grass roots levels.

 
How will these changes affect current partners and sponsors of AMA Racing? 

Our objective as it relates to our commercial partners is to increase the value they receive from their investment in the sport. We place tremendous value in the relationships we have built with our sponsorship partners.  Any new business relationships we form in the future will recognize the past support and involvement of our sponsors.  Existing entitlements and contractual obligations will be recognized and in the long run, all of our partners will benefit from a more efficient racing infrastructure.


When this restructuring is complete what can the motorcycle community expect from the AMA?

The AMA will be rebuilt into a world class membership organization with a renewed focus on the core mission of the pursuit, promotion and protection of the future of motorcycling.  We will be staffed appropriately and we will possess the necessary resources to excel.  We will refine our purpose, enhance our offerings and communicate better with the motorcycle community.  The overall result will a stronger AMA rededicated to the values, beliefs and services on which it was founded.