Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 44 November 5 2013

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 96 of 99

CN III CARRUTHERS SAYS P98 BY PAUL CARRUTHERS A BIG LOSS W hen Michael Jordan first showed up in the AMA paddock in 2004 with a team built around helping his road-racing friend Montez Stewart, most welcomed him with open arms. It almost seemed too good to be true. The man generally regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time was not only interested in AMA racing, but he wanted to field a team. Hallelujah. Since Stewart wasn't exactly the second coming of Valentino Rossi, many wondered if Jordan's interest would wane when his friend failed to garner any results worth mentioning. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Jordan wanted more. He wanted to field a team capable of getting results in the premiere class of AMA racing – Superbike. So in year two, the Jordan team stepped it up with Jason Pridmore racing a Superbike while Stewart and Steve Rapp focused mainly on the Superstock class. They also changed brands at this point, starting what would be a long association with Suzuki. Things continued to get better and better for the team. Jason Pridmore got them started, but they continued to build once he retired. There was Jake Holden, Geoff May and Aaron Yates and the results started to come. In 2009, Michael Jordan Motorsports became a player with Yates earning six podiums in the Superbike class, including two second-place finishes. It got even better the next year when Jake Zemke rode the team's Gemini Racing-built GSXR1000 to victory in both AMA Superbike races at Daytona – the team's first-ever Superbike wins. The bad note that year were the horrible injuries suffered to team leader Yates, the man generally regarded as the one to put the Jordan team on the map suffering a leg so badly broken that it would keep him out of racing until the end of last year. Then came Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden in 2011. In 2012, Hayden won his first AMA Superbike race for the team he was now an integral part of. In 2013, he was back for more along with Danny Eslick and the pair finished fourth and fifth in the series standings, but were factors in every race they lined up for. The team also got a taste of World Superbike racing when it competed as wild cards at the Laguna Seca round. They showed well to the internationals and apparently liked what they saw. So now Jordan is packing up his toys and taking them elsewhere. And it's hard not to blame him. For starters, the team lost its sponsorship with the National Guard, who also pulled its sponsorship from the series. "We're at the end of October and there's not a schedule to speak of," said Kreig Robinson, Michael Jordan Motorsports vice president of corporate relations. "We don't get physical counts [on attendance] from the AMA or track promoters, but visually it does not seem to be looking very well. As well as television ratings. We're not seeing a high level of television ratings where companies can take those numbers and justify the expenditure. I truly hope because we love motorcycle racing here in the United States - that AMA Pro can fix that situation. We really, really do. But at the meantime we cannot extend our resources to continue to do this. We just can't do it." Reading between the lines doesn't take a brain surgeon: The AMA Superbike Series is now an impossible sell. There's no schedule to take to a sponsor before they finish polishing their 2014 budget, no TV package in place to sell them on. So now Jordan is gone. And anybody who doesn't think that one of the most recognizable people in the world packing up and leaving your series isn't a big deal might want to go get his or her head examined. It's a huge

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