By Erek Kudla
Ride out of class, and you might be suspended from starting another race for 12 months.
While previous “2 Minute Warning” blogs have strived to be upbeat, let’s get serious for a minute…or two.
Heading into the new season, I have been tasked with something core to the AMA’s role as a sanctioning body. While I was hoping the recently announced AMA International Six Days Enduro Qualifier Series would be my signature 2017 movement, it has been quickly overshadowed by something much bigger. Classification.
Classification, at least proper classification, refers to riders riding in the correct class across the board. Being from the West Coast, which is spanned by only three AMA districts, classification was always straightforward. “I’m a B rider…so I race B.” and that was it. I’ve discovered that on the East Coast and into the Midwest, classification is a bit more complicated.
For example, there’s a common practice of riders competing at one level in local events (say, the B class) and at another level in national series (say, the C class), especially by riders who compete in non-AMA-sanctioned series between nationals. When asked, these riders will cite “increased competition” as the reason they bump down. My response: That’s what a national is! It’s national-level competition. It’s supposed to be harder than the local series. It’s not supposed to be easy.
I’ll offer myself as an example. On the West Coast, I am normally a top 10 overall rider locally. I could be on the starting line, check out the competition and be able to say “I’ll be 7th today” and was usually right there. When I would go to a round of the AMA National Hare and Hound Championship Series, I would struggle to finish inside the overall top 50. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The competition is tougher. Period.
Part of the confusion is probably rooted in the AA designation. AA and “pro” designated classes are added by the series promoter to identify the highest level of competition. In many case, a local AA series rider may not be classified as AA nationally. In this case, these A riders can’t compete in the highest classification. Many observers then conclude that since these A riders “drop down” (even though they don’t), then B riders drop down, as well as C riders. This is also not the case. There are only 3 classifications in AMA: A, B and C. AA- and pro-designated classes are just additional A classes added by the series. They’re still A riders.
Furthermore, “pro” in this case is not a reference to AMA Pro Racing, which requires an AMA Pro Racing license for the relevant discipline. In AMA-sanctioned off-road racing, we only need an AMA membership to compete. We do not have to buy or qualify for an AMA Pro Racing license, which is required for professional motocross, Supercross and the MotoAmerica-promoted AMA Superbike Championship. In all off-road AMA National Championship Series—AMA National Enduro, GNCCs, AMA National Hare and Hound, the AMA/NATC National MotoTrials Series—the “pro” classes are the designated top classes. They are still an A class.
The AMA rules are very clear on classification. If you’re an A, then you’re an A, you’re an A. There is no way to have dual classification, unless you are an off-road racer racing motocross or track racing or vice versa. In that case, you can vary by one skill level. For example, if you are an A enduro rider and you would like to race motocross, you can race no lower than the B class. If you are an A motocross rider, you can race no lower than B in GNCC, etc. If you’re caught riding out of class, the penalties are severe and can be as high as a one-year suspension. So, don’t do that please.
The AMA wants to keep competition fair and balanced for all classes. Sandbagging will not be tolerated. Everyone isn’t piling into the C class for some trophies while the true C riders are left scratching their heads. The riders themselves need to help police this for the good of the sport. If you see a rider riding down a class, let us know. Also, if you see this happening, don’t wait until halfway through the season. That just sucks for all parties involved.
For riders who feel they are improperly classified, there is an entire classification/appeal process outlined in the AMA rulebook (section 2.1 in the off-road version). But whatever you do, don’t “move yourself down.” You must follow the procedure in the rulebook. The 2017 rulebook is online now, so download it, save it on your phone and keep it with you!
Finally, the AMA Results Center is full of all the results sent to us from across the entire United States. This is a great way to see where you and your competition stand! If you don’t see results listed from an AMA-sanctioned race you know happened, contact the organizing club and remind them to submit the results to the AMA so you can track yourself throughout your entire racing career.
Erek Kudla is the AMA off-road racing manager.