AMA wins Supercross suit
January 1, 2003
Filed under Features
A Federal District Court judge sided with Paradama Productions Inc., commonly known as AMA Pro Racing, on Dec. 17 when he ruled that the Ohio-based organization would retain the right to exclusively officiate the races in the 2003 AMA Supercross Series.
The ruling ended a dispute between AMA Pro Racing and Clear Channel Motorsports — the primary promoting organization for AMA Supercross — which arose when the specific roles of the various parties involved in the race series came into question. The AMA and AMA Pro Racing have sanctioned Supercross since 1974. Under the terms of the recently upheld contract with Clear Channel Motorsports, AMA Pro Racing retains the right to officiate the series it developed.
The brief power struggle leading up to Judge James L. Graham’s ruling included a threat to have the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) expelled from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), the world-wide motorcycle sanctioning body based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The FIM is the only recognized body to govern motorcycle racing events at the international level. It affiliates 85 National Federations related to the sport of motorcycle racing and, last year, staged more than 1,000 events in the different disciplines of motorcycle competition.
AMA Pro Racing, formed in 1995 under the name Paradama Productions, Inc., is a subsidiary of the AMA. This separate company, with its own management and board of directors, allows the AMA to focus on government relations and other matters important to the U.S. motorcycling community.
The AMA says a Nov. 20 letter from Francesco Zerbi, president of the FIM, threatened to expel the AMA for its objection to the FIM’s efforts to impose its authority, rules and sanction on the 15-event AMA Supercross series Clear Channel also is promoting as a part of the larger THQ World Supercross GP.
The THQ series, produced and promoted by Clear Channel Entertainment with Dorna Off Road S.L., embodies 15 of the AMA events (the 16th race, held in Daytona Beach, is independently produced by the International Speedway Corp.), but adds an event in Geneva, Switzerland and Arnhem, Holland.
Dorna and Clear Channel signed the agreement to jointly produce the THQ World Supercross GP in December 2001.
At the time, Charlie Mancuso, president of Clear Channel’s Motor Sports division, said: “This is a great day for supercross fans, racers, venues and the entire motorcycle industry. We have produced supercross racing events for 27 years and always dreamed of elevating our Supercross series from a domestic championship to one that is worldwide.”
Based in Madrid, Spain, Dorna is an international sports management group established in 1988 and focused on major international motorsports events. In addition to staging the FIM World Supercross GP, for which it holds the rights from the FIM, Dorna also holds the commercial, media and TV rights to produce the FIM Motocross World Championship and the Motocross of Nations.
In July, the FIM notified AMA Pro Racing that it must conduct its 15 Supercross events according to FIM rules and under the direction of an FIM official affiliated with Clear Channel. AMA Pro Racing’s subsequent objection to that order resulted in the expulsion threat the AMA received from Zerbi on Nov. 20.
Then, on Nov. 25, nearly nine months after the two organizations last ironed out their differences and agreed to work together, AMA Pro Racing filed a lawsuit against Clear Channel which sought enforcement of the Supercross Sanctioning Agreement signed by AMA Pro Racing and Clear Channel Motorsports in March 2002.
For its part, Clear Channel maintained that the latest dispute had always been between AMA Pro Racing and the FIM.
Ken Hudgens, Clear Channel Entertainment’s vice president of marketing, said AMA Pro Racing acknowledged and agreed to having a “series within a series” concept from the outset of the new contractual relationship signed in March 2002.
“AMA Pro Racing apparently now has a dispute with the FIM, the international sanctioning body of which it is an affiliate, over whether AMA recognizes FIM’s ultimate authority over the conduct of motorcycle racing when such events are part of a world championship,” Hudgens said in a prepared statement. “That is not Clear Channel Entertainment Motor Sports’ dispute.”
“AMA Pro Racing successfully preserved the sanctity of the AMA Supercross Series,” AMA Pro Racing CEO Scott Hollingsworth said in response to the court’s ruling.
The 16-round AMA Supercross Series begins Jan. 4 at Edison Field in Anaheim, Calif., and concludes May 3 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.