Exclusive! On The Record: Michael Gentry AMA Pro Racing’s Chief Operating Officer shares his vision for the future of American motorcycle racing.

Michael Gentry at the podium With the announcements we made last week with FansChoice.tv, the press conference highlighting plans for the 2015 Daytona 200—getting the big bikes with the heroes back on the big track—and later that day, announcing our sixth round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in July, we fulfilled a good bit of our strategy for 2014: showing stability with plans for how we intend to move forward in a positive direction. Jim France’s vision was to develop something not traditionally broadcast on television. Sitting down as a family and watching television together doesn’t happen today. There may be 4 members of the family unit sitting together, but in most cases, all of them are watching something different with a different device. The good news is this product will go to all of those devices. When our television package went south, it created a lot of angst. So I wouldn’t have expected everybody to accept FansChoice.tv until they saw it. Since flat track went live last Thursday night, social media has been overwhelmingly positive. I told the broadcast talent, “I believe you will look back on your careers and say this weekend was a milestone. This is history.” The first thing was to get FansChoice.tv functional. Now it’s about distribution. We want as many eyeballs as possible plugging into this. That will draw attention and interest to our sport, and we desperately need that. Our desire is to get all the top riders into the premier class. If you’re a rider, you want the biggest, fastest motorcycle that you can possibly manage. With the bigger bikes come challenges maintaining safety, but we’re going to work together to get that spectacle back at the World Center of Racing. The Daytona 200 is our Super Bowl.
FANSCHOICETV logo Losing sponsorship, constricting a schedule, is not the desire of a sanctioning body wanting to promote a healthy series. We have gone through our “significant stock-market correction,” and even though revenues from manufacturers are still soft, acceptance of the Daytona Motorsports Group is moving forward. We’re a sanctioning body. That’s what this family does. We want to partner with our promoters to assist in making a great show. Our goals right now are to make the series healthy and draw more fans to it, to increase the number of brands participating in the sport, and develop the riders. We want to get that talent to the pinnacle of the sport, which is professional motorcycle racing in the United States. Where they go after a championship or 2 is really beyond where we’re focusing. Superprestigio was great exposure for flat track. It gave great visibility and credibility to motorcycle racing in the United States. Money is being spent today, it’s just being spent smarter and with more scrutiny. It takes a solid plan, a solid program, and a solid product to attract those dollars today. I detest the comment, “We’ve always done it this way.” How many businesses or organizations do you know that are doing things the same way they did 10 years ago? I don’t want AMA Pro Racing to be guilty of that. If I could wave a magic wand, if I could ask for one thing, it would be to have our sport looking in the same direction all working together. Motorcycle enthusiasts are passionate. We need that passion focused in a positive direction and moving forward. Last weekend was really the genesis of moving back up. Just like the economy, we’re not going to get to cruising altitude this year. Houdini couldn’t do that. But we are pulling up.

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