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March 13, 2006 – AMA structural changes prompt Honda to leave posts

March 13, 2006
Filed under Features

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has new leadership and recently announced two major changes to its structure, one of which led American Honda Motor Co. to vacate its positions within the organization.
The major structural changes were made in an effort to “more effectively use the expertise of the members of the AMA board of directors while increasing responsiveness to all parts of the motorcycling community,” the AMA said in a prepared statement.
The AMA says the first portion of the planned changes will create three new standing committees of the board — Rights, Riding and Racing. Each committee is designed to focus on one element of the AMA’s mission.
The three committees will consist of board members and other experts who will meet at least twice a year for the purpose of strategic planning within each core area.
The new committees will be in addition to the board’s existing executive and finance committees. Assignments to the new committees will be made in the coming weeks by the board chairman.
Another part of the reorganization includes the creation of a new rulesmaking procedure for the AMA’s professional-racing programs. In the past, direction for the AMA’s professional road racing, motocross/supercross, flat track, supermoto and hillclimb programs has been in the hands of a single AMA Pro Racing Board.
The AMA said the AMA Pro Racing Board will be replaced by independent working committees that will propose equipment standards and rules for on-track competition. Proposed rules would then be ratified by the AMA Board of Directors.
The size of the committees will vary depending upon the racing discipline. Each will include one representative from every AMA corporate member manufacturer with a motorcycle homologated for competition in that discipline. The AMA president also will appoint enough other members of the committee to assure the manufacturers cannot constitute a majority.
The AMA Board will have the power to accept or reject the committee’s recommendations, but it will not be allowed to alter those recommendations. A veto by the AMA Board will require support by a supermajority (nine members of the 12-member board).
American Honda has maintained a seat on the AMA Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. Company officials said the recent actions taken by the AMA swayed American Honda to vacate its positions on the AMA Board of Trustees and the Paradama (AMA Pro Racing) Board of Directors.
Ray Blank, American Honda Senior Vice President, had served on the AMA Board of Trustees since 1989, and on the AMA Pro Racing board since Paradama’s reorganization in the late 1990s. No Honda representative will take Blank’s place.
According to American Honda, “Conflicting interests within the AMA organization have caused a division of ideology and a blurring of the vision that American Honda has always supported. Recent issues, including the departure of dedicated individuals from AMA Pro Racing and its inability to stand by its own rulebook with regard to recent Formula Xtreme considerations, have been particularly alarming.”
The manufacturer said it will continue its corporate AMA membership and will continue to support the AMA’s efforts in the areas of land use, riders’ rights and the many other programs the organization spearheads.
Dal Smilie, newly elected chairman of the AMA Board of Directors, expressed disappointment over the decision by American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
“It is unfortunate that American Honda has chosen to withdraw from the AMA Board at this important time, when the AMA is embarking on a new era,” Smilie said.
AMA Pro Racing also confirmed that Merrill Vanderslice has resigned from his position of vice president, director of competition. Vanderslice does plan on continuing in his role through March. Vanderslice was named acting director of AMA Pro Racing in 1994, and was promoted to the position of AMA director of professional competition in September 1994.
New leadership
Smilie of Helena, Mont., has been elected as chairman of the AMA Board of Directors. Andy Goldfine of Aerostich, Croft Long of Kawasaki, and Ken Sutton of Harley-Davidson have been re-elected to serve as corporate members of the AMA Board of Directors, and Jon-Erik Burleson of KTM has been appointed as a corporate member of the AMA Board of Directors.
—Guido Ebert

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