In the final season that the Daytona Motorsports Group controlled the AMA Superbike season, we reported that the series would not be televised in any kind of conventional sense. Which was the case.
By that time the dream that Jim France was going to elevate the Superbike series into something much more than it was when he bought it was truly dead. Many felt at that point that France had actually bought the series to kill it, or simply drag it back to the stone age when riders showed up at the track with their bike in the back of an El Camino and raced for the fun of it.
Even after doing this for over thirty years (motorcycle racing media) the response to that old story was mildly shocking. Viewers lashed out at us because they were not going to be able to watch the racing on TV.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT THIS? some asked us. Ah, I explained, finding a television partner for billionaires (Jim France is a billionaire) isn’t really Soup’s responsibility. This did very little to change the hearts and minds of persons who suggested it was our fault the series was not on television simply because we were the entity to report it.
Fast forward to last Sunday in Atlanta.
Shortly after Superbike race two started in Braselton, the TV truck lost power. Presumably this meant that race control had no way to do their duties thus the race was red-flagged until power to the TV compound could be re-established. I know, trust me, I know, that if your house loses power you can have your primed and ready generator fired up and your television programming will again be in front of your face in mere moments, but a TV truck needs a little more juice than a portable generator from Menards.
Chaos ensued. Which is understandable given the circumstances.
Emotionally charged fans reacted like they were perhaps one click away from going outside to overturn garbage cans, start parked cars on fire, or tagging random houses with spray paint because their television\computer\phone wasn’t showing the race. Hey, all joking aside, it was a trying situation, but one of the most disappointing reactions came from new MotoAmerica rider and winner Danny Petrucci.
Petrucci had been apparently complaining to Italian media all weekend about the Road Atlanta circuit. That it wasn’t really a MotoGP track, that it had an inconsistent surface and could be safer. The red flag situation because the TV truck lost power seemed to really incense him, since, apparently, during the red flag his Ducati overheated (portable leaf blower anybody?!) and then self-immolated shortly after the re-start. He wrote on social media: “Just embarrassing what happened today. 25 years of racing I’ve never seen that they stop the race because the circuit have no power. Our engine blew off because the water was boiling because we stand more than 5 minutes standings on the multiple grids.“
The circuit did not lose power. Race control lost TV via the TV truck losing power. If race control loses TV they cannot observe the race and communicate with their ground crew. It’s an unsafe situation.
MotoAmerica is a national championship. MotoGP is a world championship. The unfortunate reality is that here in the United States the tracks do not attract an audience large enough so that the track owner can lay down an asphalt red carpet for Danny to race on. Nor can they limit their schedules to motorcycle only events. Car events are a reality on the same tracks used by MotoA. Welcome to our world, Danny-Boy.
If one wants to race on the peerless MotoGP tracks, one should stay in MotoGP.
If viewed with 1990s race goggles on, 2022 is a magical and technologically amazing time to be a race enthusiast. Thanks to Wayne Rainey, Terry Karges, Chuck Aksland and Richard Varner, there is TV and the series has finally attracted a factory Ducati and an international rider of some renown. Without the Rainey/Aksland/Varner/Karges quartet, trust me, the problem would not be limited to a series that lacks of television.
The problem would be no series.