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AMA Pro Racing Suspends Technical Director

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Johnny Rock Page - American SuperBike  Mid-Ohio Race 1
AMA Pro Road Racing has suspended Technical Director and former American Honda crew chief Al Ludington for his actions during an argument with AMA Superbike racer Johnny Rock Page after American Superbike Race 1 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in Lexington, Ohio.
AMA Pro Road Racing has suspended Technical Director and former American Honda crew chief Al Ludington for his actions during an argument with AMA Superbike racer Johnny Rock Page after American Superbike Race 1 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in Lexington, Ohio.
 
It’s said that Page blocked Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates during the final laps of Saturday’s Superbike race while he was chasing after Yamaha’s Josh Hayes for the win. During the race, Page received the blue flag which per the rulebook states:

“Section 7: Race Rules And Procedures 7.14 Flags / Lights vii. Blue Flag: Indicates to a rider that they are about to be overtaken. Riders are advised to keep their line and allow the faster rider to pass. Riders disregarding this flag may be blackflagged at the discretion of AMA Pro Racing."
 
Rock claims that he abided by the rule, but as you’ll see in the video below, Ludington obviously doesn’t agree. The entire verbal exchange was recorded on video and is posted on YouTube. Check it out at the very bottom of the page.


The following is from AMA Pro Road Racing:
 
AMA Pro Racing officials have announced the indefinite suspension of the organization's Technical Director of Competition Al Ludington for conduct detrimental to the sport of professional motorcycle racing following this past weekend's AMA Pro Road Racing event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The indefinite suspension will preclude Ludington's participation in AMA Pro Road Racing events commencing with next weekend's round at Heartland Park Topeka following his actions and behavior at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, July 18, in an exchange with AMA Pro American Superbike rider Johnny Rock Page. Ludington has issued a letter of apology to Mr. Page and the overall AMA Pro Racing community.

"Al Ludington is and remains a key member of AMA Pro Racing's management team," said AMA Pro Racing Vice President of Competition Roy Janson. "The outstanding competition that we have seen across the board in AMA Pro Road Racing this season is due in large part to Al's expertise, experience and passion for motorcycle racing. In no way, however, can AMA Pro condone his behavior and actions as displayed this past weekend at Mid-Ohio. It is appropriate that Al extended an apology to Mr. Page, the AMA Pro Racing community and our loyal fans who deserve and can expect in the future nothing but the highest standards of professional conduct from all of our AMA Pro officials."

Janson, who manages all aspects of the competition department in his Vice President position, will have direct oversight for at-event AMA Pro Road Racing technical operations in Ludington's absence.

The following is Al Ludington’s apology:

To the AMA Pro Racing Community:

I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to the fans of our sport, all AMA
members, competitors, AMA Pro Racing officials and Johnny Rock Page for my
behavior in the Tech Garage at the recent AMA Pro Road Racing event at Mid-
Ohio.

My actions were out of line and detrimental to the well being and the growth of
the sport that we all love. Mr. Page is a professional racer and should have been
reprimanded for his actions in a professional manner. He was not, and the blame
is entirely and solely my own.

I am regretful for offending anyone’s sensibilities, and I vow never to conduct
myself in this manner in the future. We expect cordial dialogue and behavior from
our competitors and, in turn, they should expect the same from us. I failed to live
up to this code of conduct.

Once again, I am offering my sincerest apologies to everybody that was affected
by my poor decision to conduct myself in a non-professional manner.

Sincerely,

Al Ludington
AMA Pro Racing
Technical Director


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Comments
Dale Whelan -Thoughts of a racing grampa  August 3, 2009 09:23 AM
I raced for 25 years, some of it with the AMA. I was a back marker in 600 Supersport and 250 GP.
JRP may mave messed up a race, but it is wrong to expect him to watch the race of others while competing in his own.
It is dangerous to do anything unpredictable when being passed, this includes changing line. Ever see a rider passed on both side at the same time? What happens when the slower rider moves out of one riders way?
I have heard many people bad mouth JRP, can't say much of the person, haven't talked with him much. He did qualify by meeting the AMA's own requirements. Lapped riders are part of racing. Racing never works out the way everybody wants. People may not like JRP. That matters not to men of honour. Men of honour live by the same rules that others follow and administer them consistently. From what I read, the blue flag rule does not provide for suspension. To suspend JRP you would need a different infraction.
Some one suggested JRP may have set up the AMA by wearing a mic. Seems possible he knew how they might play it and decided to protect himself.
I really loved racing in the AMA, I often did not like teir decisions.
I hope they get on track and the sport grows.
G -Al the butthole  July 31, 2009 12:49 PM
Al why don't you get out there on a bike so I can smoke your ass on my stock superhawk and I am 43 you are a prick!!
Hailwood -AMA Suspends Technical Director  July 31, 2009 09:05 AM
JRP - right or wrong - not the issue. Why don't the riders have some kind of tribunal to review their peers? Keep these desk jockey clowns away from the guys who are putting it on the line.
The only ones who have the right to talk to a rider like that are other riders, and behind closed doors!
Who does Ludington think he is? JRP should have decked him.
AMA is falling apart, and I hope they read these mails.
thewall -Then Matt is an asshat  July 30, 2009 11:53 AM
Page held his line and did not race the faster rider, i.e. he let him pass. Really, it's moot, because Ludington was a complete dick. And where you see one cockroach there are probably twenty. Meaning if this is how one AMA official acts towards the riders then that behavior is probably instilled throughout the organization. I use to go to an AMA race once a year and watch them on television when I could. Now, I don't even think about watching AMA racing with the atrocity it has become. Then seeing a director demean a rider like that, especially where the riders infraction was minor at worst, really puts the nail in the coffin. It's WSBK, MotoGP, WSS for me.
Steve -Mat disagrees  July 24, 2009 10:15 AM
From Mat Mladin's Twitter:

"You overwelmingly asked for my opinion on this one. Al Ludington's approach to "Johnny Dick Head" was mild. I would have head butted him!"

I have done a few off-road races and I tend to agree with Mat. Yes, the slower guy is in a race and may be a great battle between another competitior. But, the slower guys generally are NOT racing for the championship. I was always the slower guy, and I always did my best to let the faster guys by.
Chango -Suspensions  July 24, 2009 06:05 AM
If Ludington has been suspended for "unprofessionalism" when is Roger Edmundson going to be suspended for allowing a daggum liquid-cooled, 1125cc Rotax-built v-twin in a Buell to race against inline-4 600s, while the Rotax-built v-twin in the Aprilia is limited to 1000 and the Ducati-built v-twin is even smaller? That seems even more "unprofessional" to me.
Rfx -just drives the last nail into the coffin  July 23, 2009 11:51 PM
Only two manufacturers in the Superbike field. The "600/1125" class is the "premier" class. Same day coverage was axed in favor of a one-hour recap a week after the race--and subsequently reverted back. Professional Racers being treated very un-professionally. THANK GOD FOR WSBK and MOTOGP, because the AMA is nothing but a canned product--just like SPAM.
Guy -No good,  July 23, 2009 06:06 PM
Ludington is there to enforce rules and not his opinion. Ludington made a clear an obvious error both in terms of profesisonalism and rule interpretation. What he did do was demontrate a total imcompeteance and innapropriate skill set to carry out the position of AMA Technical Director.
BoboX -Joke  July 23, 2009 04:59 PM
"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" DMG version of AMA racing is as big a joke as AMA racing of the past. It's a race not a show. Maybe they should take a hint from the WWE and call it AMA Entertainment
Don Ingjr -Apology:?  July 23, 2009 04:59 PM
And another thing, what kind of an apology is that. Says Page should have been reprimanded properly? Reprimanded for WHAT? Following the rules. Unreal.
Don Ingjr -Suspended? How about Fired  July 23, 2009 04:11 PM
Unbelievable. I can't believe that Page held his temper so well. Kudos to you Mr. Page. Anyone remember how many "shows" Yates has been involved in? Page followed the letter of the rules and was dressed down severly for nothing. If luddington would have done that to me he would have been walking away with a mouth full of broken teeth. Then they would have had something to suspend me for.
Rocketman -JRP screwed up  July 23, 2009 03:59 PM
JRP was guilty of not properly reacting to a blue flag at the end of the race. He had to know that the leader(s) were coming thru when the blue flag was displayed. He had to know how difficult it was to pass at that portion of that race track. He had to assume that if he got passed by the leader, then others were probably hot on his heels. No midpack racers I know of want to affect the outcome of the race at the front. Holding your line doesn't cut it in that situation. JRP should have unselfishly gone off line and slowed to allow the faster riders by. This doesn't condone Ludington's behavior. Was JRP "miked up" for this confrontation? Was this a setup?
Phil L -ludington  July 23, 2009 03:21 PM
These two are not on the same "page". Ludington is talking about the race that everyone is watching and JRP is talking about following the blue flag instructions. JRP did not try to screw the end of the race up but him being where he was at the end of the race did screw it up.
Imagine if that was Rossi and Lorenzo comming thru and JRP slowed Rossi. I think people would be unhappy with JRP even though he was just racing his race. But that is racing and the way it's set up in the US of AMA. Slower riders get in the way and affect the outcome of races, it is not what anyone wants to see but is a fact. This fact is what Ludington was so "delicately" attempting to explain to JRP, but Page was arguing a different point about holding a line and making sure he had it all on tape.
Shortman -0:11, 0:18, 0:26, 0:52, 1:27, 1:14, 1:27  July 23, 2009 10:53 AM

0:11, 0:18, 0:26, 0:52, 1:27, 1:14, 1:27

0:11, 0:18, 0:26, 0:52, 1:27, 1:14, 1:27
Guy -Just more of the same...  July 23, 2009 10:16 AM
What is being done here is nothing new to racing. It's the old double standard between teams. I used to race a car a while ago in a local class called "Street Stock". There were a lot of restrictions in this class to supposedly keep racing costs down, and give the Average Joe a chance to race. The promoters gave preferential treatment to the big money teams. The ones who had the forty foot enclosed trailers, banners, and flawless cars every week. They were what they wanted to promote as the "stars" of the class. These stars were able to cheat however they wanted, both with the vehicle and on the track. An example would be an aluminum drive shaft, something very blatant and easy to spot under the car. (They would always pass tech very easily, with out question.) However, I was always being torn down and harassed in the tech lane because I'd show up with an old pickup truck, trailer, and a team in tee-shirts. When I had an issue with someone's conduct on the track, the promoter said I was just filler. (Filling in the field.) I think this is the same kind of morality that is going on here. Another black eye for our sport.
Steve D -Ludington  July 23, 2009 10:12 AM
I firmly beleive if not for two things, big Al would have not even been scolded by the AMA.
First he was caught on camera, hard to argue with the footage.
Second the AMA painted themselves into a corner with the suspension of Jamie Hacking for shooting off his mouth in a heated moment.
If they had not acted on Ludington,racers would have called them on it. This is just more manure thrown on the steaming pile that is DMG.
TheBrain -Al Ludington is a repeat offender.  July 23, 2009 08:51 AM
Agreed... JRP is not the first and won't be the last lapped rider to "affect the race outcome". Could he have done a better job getting out of the way? Sure. Did he hold his line? Yes. Al Ludington was completely out of line to say the lease and then to make threats to find cause to not pass JRP is a terminable offense. This is not the first time Ludington has "strong armed" racers. He has done so to John Ulrich's team (His teams bikes subsequently then was torn down)... so how many other times has he acted as such before the video tape evidence? JRP maybe dead last but he is far better rider than I' am (not to mention a whole host of other things he has done). He kept his composure and wrote a complete letter with the problems and resolutions. I say good on you Mr. Page, keep living the dream.
RJ2 -Ludington A**HOLE!  July 23, 2009 08:35 AM
And that is WHY the AMA is where the AMA is today...People like that should have no place in high positions. Makes me sick...
Motofreak -Confrontation Hardly!  July 23, 2009 08:08 AM
Come on! That was hardly and arguement, and to be suspended over that is obsurd! Since when did the AMA become a bunch of tea sipping sissy's. If we got suspended at my job for that no one would be left to fill the shifts. PS... Page was wrong. No ones paying a nickel to watch him race. Move over, shut up, and be happy you get to put in laps.
Brian -Mid-Ohio and JRP  July 23, 2009 08:05 AM
I race at Mid-Ohio in the CCS class and I have done over 100 track days there so I think it it fair to say I know the track fairly well. Unfortunately there is only one place to pass once you get past Thunder Valley - Turn 11, and that is just before turn 12. You can't go too wide if you are brave and want to pass in 13 because there is often debris/clagg on the outside of turn 13 and even worse if you are really moving you run out of track over there. Coming in tight on turn 13, as JRP did and you can see Yates trying to pass him on the inside even tighter, puts you directly inline for turn 14.

All the way through 15, the last corner, there really is no place to pass and unless someone runs off-line by accident you won't see any passing going on in that section of the track so for JRP to move off-line into clagg is ridiculous. The rules in all organizations state for the rider to hold their line.

One final point, for those of you who can ride Mid-Ohio in less that 1:35 will easily realize that you are going so fast through that last section that there really isn't much room for error, and how is one to know what line selection a rider behind them will choose to pass a rider in front of them. This is why the rule states for the blue-flagged rider to hold their line.
Texas Dave -Wrong rules  July 23, 2009 07:15 AM
Page was following the rule book the AMA published for competitors. Ludington was following the rule book the AMA uses to keep their favorites on top.
BRKNtibia -Threat  July 23, 2009 06:38 AM
I think the real issue here is Al threatening to see to it that JRP doesn't have a bike to ride. Definate abuse of power.
John Spoonemore -Huh. NASbike.  July 23, 2009 05:56 AM
Roughly 25 years ago or so, Dale Earnhardt said in an interview that he never apologized for (but fined up the wazzoo over) that whoever wins is exactly who NASCAR *wants* to win. That extended to issuing BS fines and/or suspensions, or even to finding problems with the cars of competing teams themselves. That was 25 years ago. Anybody think it can't happen here, with the same group running the show? Think again.
Shortman -Let Me Explain  July 23, 2009 04:18 AM
I know this will be my third comment in a row. I have a bad habit of not explaining myself thoroughly which leads to ambiguity. After posting the first comment I thought to myself, 'OK I guess ratings are stressing them out. Hmph, is it really that big of a deal? Why would you let something like that escalate to that point and put yourself at risk of losing your job?'

Which then lead me to think, maybe he's stressing so much about Yates being blocked because it's fixed and Page threw a wrench in what was supposed to happen. When people see this that's what will be going through their heads as well. If it is indeed true, that may be why AMA is being harsh on Al. He might just have very well exposed a fixed promotion.

So..... I was just thinking the same thing.
Shortman -Good Point FastChariot  July 23, 2009 04:09 AM
I was just thinking the same thing.


Shortman -Suspension Really?! Pick Your Battles People.  July 23, 2009 04:07 AM
That was pretty intense but I don't think it validates a suspension. AMA is acting like they're going to fire the guy. I think Ludington was dumb in letting it even get that far, pick your battles, just let it go.
FastChariot -Is AMA Racing anymore  July 23, 2009 04:01 AM
This was caught on tape and now everyone knows about it. Who knows if these guys inform every other racer to back off and only let the Suzuki's and the Yamaha's win. After all they are the major sponsors for majority of the events held in US. This incident has cast doubts on the authenticity of the races themselves. Unless there is a change management no matter how hard these guys try, they will not bring back people who believe in true racing.
Peterbuilt -Failure  July 22, 2009 09:53 PM
This guy is supposed to be a technical director and does not even understand the scope of the rule. JRP did nothing wrong. Thats racing! We don't watch road racing for a "show". We could rent the movie Torque for that. We watch for one of the purest forms of competition in the world today and if this coward wants to set up a "show" to only promote the more well known riders than AMA has failed. Thanks for a swift kick to the integrity of racing. Ass holes.
Socalmoe -Another black eye  July 22, 2009 09:46 PM
This official ia an asshole, that is no way of taking to a competitor; his words are proof that AMA racing is a joke. There has not a "show" in AMA racing since this clowns took it over. I will never attend another event as long as this jokers are running things. Sad and pathetic, they managed to run this sport in to the toilet.
x2468 -well now...  July 22, 2009 09:45 PM
clearly the upper officials are stressed out by the lack of viewers and fan attendance and really want a better show. And they're stress might be coming out on the riders now. However I don't thing that totally excuses this official. Then again, who knows. This might be nothing new, and someone finally happened to record it and because of youtube now everyone knows. all i know is this: RACING WOULD MAKE AN AWESOME REALITY SHOW!!!! hey, it worked for the UFC (see "the ultimate fighter" on spike). hell i know i'd watch it.
Josh D -WOW  July 22, 2009 08:47 PM
I think the issue here is the phrase "you are not the show." Really?! So, Al wants 5 riders in the whole class then, right? 3 suzukis and 2 yamahas? Is that the "show?" That conversation was so incredibly demeaning to JRP. I am apalled that the AMA would treat their racers in such a manner. Regardless of who "parked" who, that was WAY out of line.
Rui Pacheco -ludington  July 22, 2009 08:33 PM
So unprofessional from Ludington.. It's disappointing. Page should be commended for racing his a** off and then holding his tongue talking to this clown.. Looks like Ludington got the "show" he wanted, a circus, and he's the main star.