C.E. Altman was one of the original employees of PACE Management, which started producing AMA-sanctioned indoor short track and TT race events at the Houston Astrodome when the stadium first opened in the late 1960s. Altman went on to become a pioneer in promoting the AMA Supercross Series, and is credited with helping to popularize the sport as entertainment for men, women and children of all ages, including non-motorcyclists.
Altman was born in 1937. He began working with PACE management in 1966, and in 1968 he helped promote the company’s first major AMA event: a Grand National flat-track race in the Houston Astrodome. That event grew into an annual tradition that continued for 18 years, but it was in Supercross that Altman truly made his mark.
In the 1970s, Supercross was in its infancy. The concept of staging motorcycle races in major urban stadiums had not yet been fully explored in the promotional or logistical sense. Altman saw the potential of combining the convenience of urban stadiums with the excitement of motorcycle racing, and he applied what he knew from promoting the Houston flat-track races to Supercross just as the sport began to take a foothold on the national scene. The concept he developed took hold and remained as the foundation of modern Supercross event production.
Altman was also a forerunner in Supercross track design and standardization. In a 2005 interview with reporter Donn Collings, DirtWurx track design founder Rich Winkler recounted how Altman endeavored to bring consistency to Supercross race courses.
“At that time (circa 1991) the quality of the tracks varied greatly,” said Winkler. “Some tracks cost more than others, and some of them were frankly horrible. We just started to think that there was a value to standardizing it, trying to make it cost similar, and have the track quality be similar from week to week, so that’s how it got started.”
Altman was also an innovator in other specialized entertainment properties for arenas and stadiums, including concerts. In 1993, he visited China while acting as a vice president of PACE. Altman was charged with scouting facilities for stadium events and determining what PACE productions were suitable for Chinese audiences.
He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003.
Altman died in Houston in 1994 after a long battle with leukemia. In his memory, the annual AMA Supercross C.E. Altman Top Privateer award is presented to a deserving racer.
Altman was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003.