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AMA Road Racing: What Will it Become?

Monday, August 10, 2009
2009 Daytona Bike Week.
What will AMA Pro Road Racing be in 2010 and beyond?
Be it good or be it bad, timing is everything … And with the unfortunate slump in our economic world and DMG’s rough intro into our beloved sport, timing for AMA road racing couldn’t be worse. Thus, the big question remains: Who will be left for 2010? Big-man on campus Mat Mladin has already announced his retirement and rumor going around is that short of Yamaha, none of the big-four Japanese manufacturers have the desire (or money) to field a factory team next year. Though only a rumor, with motorcycle sales down as much as they are, this comes as no surprise. But whose fault is this really and how much does DMG's lackluster-at-best takeover of the new series have to do with the state of the road racing union? What will become of AMA Pro Road Racing? 

Rumor is Corona’s sponsorship deal is up at the end of the year and that Honda has no desire to go racing on its own. Though talking to a few of the Honda crew guys, they say “racing in some form looks good for next year,” so hopefully they know something we don’t. With rider Neil Hodgson still recovering from a motocross injury and not yet performing at 100-percent, the Corona team haven’t had the results they expected this year. It’s easy to tell everyone in their squad is disappointed considering their jobs are probably on the line.

Corona Extra Honda Racings Neil Hodgson finished second in American Superbike at Daytona.
Will Corona and Honda be around next season? Let's hope so...
Attack Monster Kawasaki is another team who's future is up in the air from what we hear - at least the Kawasaki part of the equation. Attack’s business is selling racing goods so there’s little question they will be in the paddock next year, but with what riders and on what brand of bike remains to be seen. It's said they only have a 1-year deal with Kawasaki and the word is Team Green has no desire to go road racing next year due to the economy. Not to mention, Attack Kawasaki's results, despite proven-winners Jamie Hacking and Roger Lee Hayden on their bikes, have been mediocre at best. It would be a shame to see Kawasaki not have some sort of factory or factory-supported team in the paddock, so let’s hope these rumors are nothing more than just that – rumors.

On the other hand, thankfully, there may be some hope at the end of the tunnel.

Ducati's sales have been hurt less than the Japanese as of late and with Larry Pegram winning some races for the Italian team, next year we don’t foresee any change in their current situation. The only muttering we’ve heard is the team could bump up to two riders in 2010, which would be a good thing. The more Ducatis on the gird the better, if you ask us.

Mladin leads teammate Hayden at Fontanas first American Superbike race.
Mladin is out at Yoshimura, recently announcing he will be retiring after this season. Question is: Who will take his spot?
Yoshimura has openly stated that no matter what happens, they will be fielding a team next year. It’s also known that rising star Blake Young has a two-year deal with the squad that bleeds over into 2010. They sell racing parts and now build customer race bikes, so being top-dog at the track is critical to business. But the question is, will they be on Suzuki? Wouldn’t it be wild to see them on a different brand? Yoshimura Honda maybe? Considering Suzuki's current struggles, you can't rule it out - I'm sure they're not.

The bigger news comes in the form of new players from Europe, BMW and Aprilia, as both have made it clear they want to go Superbike racing for the first time in America with their all-new 2010 liter-bikes. The Roundel knows that to sell its new S1000RR they need to go racing on this side of the pond. It has been floating around the media that they have gone after several established teams (Erion Racing, Attack, Jordan Suzuki and M4 Suzuki) with proposals to run a BMW squad for next year. According to inside sources from one of these teams this may be nothing more than a rumor at this point. Either way, though, BMW did express to us recently at a press event that they have a very large interest in AMA Superbike racing next year so there's no question they are looking to come play.
Chaz Davies - Daytona SportBike  Road America
Can KWS field the new Aprilia RSV4 in Superbike next year and if they do, who will ride it?

The same can be said for Aprilia, as they know how important selling its new RSV4 in America will be next year. Most have them linked to the current KWS team, who runs Aprilia's RSV1000R in the Daytona SportBike class, as the relationship is already in place. But considering how little of a budget they are giving KWS this season, moving up to the Superbike class is going to take more than some free bikes and parts to be competitive. More cash and some trick WSBK parts are a must. Let’s hope the Italian company puts some money and serious support into the effort because it would be great to see that awesome-looking new bike running up front.

Michael Jordan Motorsports will be back once again as MJ himself is passionate about the sport ... and thank goodness for that. They've had a relationship with Suzuki for years now and MJ has been known to be a loyal guy, but here’s no doubt getting the support needed to run a team for ’10 could be an uphill battle. And in typical Suzuki style, there’s no doubt they will leave all decisions until that last minute. Either way, it’s good to know MJ and crew will still be around next year as this team runs one of the most professional presentations in the paddock. Having Jordan’s name on the side of the bike surely helps our struggling sport. They have also done well to get National Guard involved as the title sponsor of Geoff May's Number 54 machine, as well as bringing them in to sponsor the American Superbike class itself.
AMA Moto-GT Daytona
DMG and their quirky rules including the use of the pace car, have done nothing but hurt the AMA Pro Road Racing Series from the rider and team perspective.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that everything finds a way of working out and we see all four Japanese manufacturers on the grid in some form next year. We would all welcome the addition of newcomers from BMW and Aprilia too. I know it’s tough to keep the hope alive, but hang in there with me and hopefully road racing won’t follow the footsteps of AMA dirt track and become a B-level sport. There’s little-to-no question DMG’s inadequate job of taking over American road racing couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s hard enough for the teams to find sponsorship in this economy but with the boys from Daytona running the series like cowboys it's going to be nothing but an uphill battle.
2009 AMA Superbike Gallery
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View Slideshow
AMA Superbike Rider Bios
Ben Bostrom
Ben Bostrom has truly rode his way to international stardom. After winning the hearts of American race fans, Ben took his show overseas.
Larry Pegram Bio
Larry Pegram was born in Columbus Ohio and has been racing as a professional since 1988.
Jake Zemke Bio
All the hard work paid off in 2008 when Jake won his first AMA Superbike series championship by claiming the Formula Xtreme title that has eluded him for all these years.

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Comments
Ryan in LBC -DMG BS  August 14, 2009 10:21 PM
Now that this crazy season is coming to a close numerous problems are clear, but I'm hoping the future will get brighter.

It seems like this AMA road racing season had a lot of trial by fire which showed many errors.
First, get rid of the pace car/pace bike; Second, get rid of the rolling starts; Third, equalize the displacement for the classes and minimize displacement variations (please study WSBK racing and class structure).
My hope is that next year Buell will only run against 1000cc bikes in superbike with a full 1200cc like Ducati, also I hope to see KWS Aprilia on the RSV4 as well as BMW and KTM.
It would be sweet to see Triumph get competitive with the 600cc bikes and Ducati in that mix with the 848.
There has been a lot of great racing, but the DMG BS surrounding these details has overshadowed some of the success and the riders/ teams who are pushing the extreme edge.
Tony -Mladin Factor  August 13, 2009 05:10 PM
The series will be much better when he is gone. He stayed in the "minor leagues" his whole career. Racing should be more competitive next year. Maybe even worth watching.
midnitelamp -nascar  August 12, 2009 09:19 PM
is not doing so hot right now,either.


Racing -ruined?  August 12, 2009 11:54 AM
I think it's a stretch to say that the racing is ruined...it's certainly closer at the checkered line. Overall though, if Mladin does well at VIR he'll win the championship and can conceivably sit out at New Jersey. Having already not raced at Topeka, I don't think the championship race is any closer. My problem with DMG is that they tried to make racing closer by slowing down Mladin/Spies - rather than forcing the other guys/manufacturers to step up. If I were Bostrom/Hayes/Hodgson/etc. I would feel offended - basically DMS is saying telling them that they're not good unought to win under 'traditional' Superbike rules so we'll change them for you.
NorCalFilth -Wrenchin' Ryan - DMG=NASCAR  August 12, 2009 10:13 AM
Hey Ryan, I don't like watching NASCAR but i can tell you i love their money. Do you think that any of the riders would pass on money from Tide, M&M's, Lowe's. No they wouldn't! So why dont you take a pill and let this thing shake out. You think that DMG is here to destroy SuperBike racing, i contest that they are looking at it through a fresh, different, and more successful set of eyes. Why not give them a chance to improve the mistakes that have been made, after all the DMG is still in its infancy when it comes to motorcycle racing. How green the grass has become, because as i recall everyone hated the AMA before the DMG was around. Please tell me in a well thought out way how the racing is worse than before. I understand the PaceCar problem and i dont like that facet either but how is this not better racing than before? The answer of NAS-BIKE sucks is not an answer nor does it make any sense if you have seen any of the racing this year. Think out your argument you fools and then post a comment, otherwise STFU.
Craig -Racing ruined?  August 12, 2009 05:22 AM
I am not sure what you guys are watching, but I think the racing has been incredibly exciting this year, especially in DSB. Say what you will about Buell's bike, it is good exciting racing with multiple brands and engine configs racing hard and close. It's some of the best racing I have seen in years and really got me re-interested. Frankly I am bored of the Mladin-show and domination by the Japanese factories. Bring on Buell, BMW, Aprilia, etc to liven up the show!
MV Man -Ryan  August 12, 2009 01:37 AM
I can only speak for myself, but, no. I don't watch four wheel racing of any type. Now for the scary part of your post. Do you actually believe all the manufacturers will be forced to produce an identical product to be raced in America only? Good luck with all that! Dude, you've been wrenchin to close to the VP can, the fumes are gettin to ya. The Daytona Sportbike class is the complete opposite of what you suggest our future holds. You should take your own advice and "think about it". While your at it, please direct me to the post that led you to believe anyone on this site has a problem with WSBK.
Wrenchin' Ryan -DMG=NASCAR  August 11, 2009 09:11 PM
One question for all you promoters of DMG.......do you like watching NASCAR? It's close racing, different guys win all the time. Still boring as sh!t to watch. It won't be long before we have spec frames/bodywork/engines/brake fluid/etc. Also are you saying that World SBK/SS is a bad/boring format?? Think about it.
MV Man -Racing  August 11, 2009 09:11 PM
First off, WSB's are not all the same size, you know that..right? Secondly, how many handlebar to handle bar Daytona Sportbike brawls do you need to see with your own eyes before you realize there is nothing to debate?
Ing -Displeasure  August 11, 2009 06:51 PM
I'm over the whole AMA/DMG thing. Can't wait to watch WSB and Moto-GP. At least their all on the same size bike. Got to be the single biggest goof they have made. The APPEARANCE of unfairness is beyond belief. Wheather or not it's unfair is up for debate.
MV Man -Dan  August 11, 2009 06:38 PM
Confusing class names? Come on brother, don't tell on yourself like that! A Buell spec series? That would be like the last few years of AMA superbike....Eslick would cruise to the championship without breaking a sweat, wake me when it's over. The Daytona Sportbike series is not a 600cc class. 600cc fours are just one of the motor spec's allowed. Guy's really, we gotta get past this
Snowscum -Lopsided racing......  August 11, 2009 05:22 PM
Wins, Podiums, Poles and Fastest Laps. The stats that matter most. Ranking by 2009 championship order. 1. Mat Mladin: 10 (wins) 12 (podiums) 7 (poles) 8 ('laps) 2. Tommy Hayden: 0 (wins) 8 (podiums) 0 (poles) 3 ('laps) 3. Larry Pegram: 3 (wins) 5 (podiums) 1 (poles) 1 ('laps) 4. Josh Hayes: 3 (wins) 4 (podiums) 1 (poles) 1 ('laps) 5. Ben Bostrom: 0 (wins) 6 (podiums) 0 (poles) 1 ('laps) 6. Blake Young: 0 (wins) 4 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 7. Aaron Yates: 0 (wins) 4 (podiums) 0 (poles) 1 ('laps) 8. Geoff May: 0 (wins) 3 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 9. Taylor Knapp: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 10. Jake Holden: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 11. Chris Ulrich: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 12. Neil Hodgson: 0 (wins) 1 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 13. David Anthony: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 14. Scott Jensen: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 15. Aaron Gobert: 0 (wins) 0 (podiums) 0 (poles) 0 ('laps) 16. Michael Laverty: 0 (wins) 1 (podiums) 0 (poles) 1 ('laps)
Bob Roberts (no relation to King Kenny) -Listen to Dan...  August 11, 2009 04:12 PM
That guy hit the nail on the head.
Dan -If I wuz king...  August 11, 2009 04:10 PM
Get rid of all the confusing class names. Stop mixing bike with differant engine configurations and displacements. Have one 600 class, Superbike and a Buell spec series. Have Foru races on Sunday. If they really wanna cut costs put everyone on 600's, have heat races and be done with everything in one day. Peace out.
any real fans out there? -quit complaining  August 11, 2009 01:54 PM
Why is it that no one has posted a viable solution to all the complaints? I know why, you all would rather bit ch than think critically! It is easy to take pop shots when you are sitting in you living room as an armchair promoter. Lets face it fellas, having your super star sit out of a race is not going to get the sponsors excited to put up money next year. You all want the DMG to fail?! What about the careers of the up and coming racers, do any of you fans give a sh!t about them, or are they just "spineless" puppets of the DMG? Eddie K you said it best, "can we as a group develop the skills required to grow the industry and stop complaining"? I just looked at my Magic 8 Ball and this group of complainers has a bleak future.
Poonie -Pace Ambulance?  August 11, 2009 12:57 PM
I loved watching riders dodge a slow-moving ambulance during a recent race. What entertainment! All we need our some clown suits to perfect the illusion...
NorCalFilth -Steve Atlas  August 11, 2009 09:34 AM
Steve i really dont understand your bad attitude!?!?! Half of your article is talking about new blood in America! New teams replacing old ones. The times are changing folks so stand by! Who really gives a crap about Mladins little boyfriend Jamie Hacking? Vito, have you lost your mind? Hacking and Zemke to Europe? Give me a break. The 90s are over and the sun is setting on many of the riders most vocal about the changes in the format. I would love to see "someone just start up a new series"! HA, you know what that takes? Cash! Maybe Mladin will start a new series with all his Yosh money. Then he can ensure that all the riders are "safe" as they pin a 200 mph motorcycle.
MV Man -Close Racing  August 11, 2009 09:25 AM
Nothing is more important to a true Racer/Race fan than close, competitive racing. That's what drives the sport foward and pays the bills. Oh, and by the way, everything you suggested has been done in the past.
Proper classes -is more than just physics...  August 11, 2009 09:05 AM
If we are simply going to use math/physics to make the bikes 'fair', why bother with classes...let's just put the appropriate ballasts on each bike and let them all run together...hell let's throw in some two stroke 125/250 GP bikes as well...the AMA should strive for the best racers racing, not just good/close racing.
MV Man -Proper class  August 11, 2009 08:54 AM
The math/physics behind the "Sportbike" class logic (and success), continues to elude the fringe few. I can't argue this point anymore right now....I am re-watching the day 2 topeka "Sportbike" race for the sixth time!!
More brands -in the proper class!  August 10, 2009 10:49 PM
I'm all for more brands but please run in the proper classes. Having the Beull (and Aprilia) in the 600cc classes just doesn't make sense. By doing well in the 600cc class and sucking in the 1000cc class all Buell is proving is that their 1125cc sportbike is on par in performance with 600cc bikes - so much for Buell innovation! By that math, they would have to create a 2000+cc bike to run with the 1000cc superbikes.
Chris -Better  August 10, 2009 07:51 PM
I think the racing has been great. If you are so worried about the little details and you own interpretation of "rule breaking" and "favoritism," and not actual racing, then just go play golf or something. All you hear about is DMG screw up, Pace car, and Buell. While the pace car was horrible, the Buells are making it interesting, and I don't see how Buell has "ruined" the Sportbike class by having 1 competitive bike making the racing awesome to watch. Ruined? Really? Why don't people just appreciate good riders. And Aprilia is in there too, and placing high, but yet NOBODY complains about them. This whole article is about manufacturer's in trouble and pulling out, and Buell is the one that is actually pumping more effort into the sport, helping out the racers, and aiding the privateers. They are putting forth a strong effort to improve the series, and yet people like to complain about them. The more brands the better.
GSXR John -09 AMA Racing  August 10, 2009 04:27 PM
I used to LOVE watching AMA racing! Superbikes, Supersport, Superstock, Formula Extreme. Where did they all go? What happened? Oh, that's right, DMG took over and messed everything up... HOw can DMG justify airing the races 1-2 weeks late, and at 10pm to top it off? (until recent schedule changes) The Supersport is ruined due to Buell being allowed to compete (CHEAT) there; and what's up with the "rolling starts"? There is no more Formula Extreme or Superstock, which were favorites too! I can't even talk myself in to watching an AMA race anymore... Thanks for ruining AMA racing DMG!! Guess I'll have to stick with WSBK and MotoGP...
Kirk H -DMG or Bust  August 10, 2009 03:35 PM
DMG made no friends dictating. At the same time, they tried the novel approach of making racing "affordable". So, can you dictate (or judge from the bench) while allowing for rules changes that seems "odd" to the fans? I think the answer is yes to the rules, but the handling of said rules is slightly more than suspicious. But the outcome was interesting. The Grand Poobah said in way too many words the Buell allowed to enter the RR and others could do it, too. Fine and dandy. So, watch every manufacturer that says in the AMA/DMG series will offer a "spec" bike for sale to the racing public. Not a bad trade-off, really. This really could have been avoided if they would have said "Next season it's in. Until then race what you bung to the party."
As far as teams go. DNA needs to give Larry the budget to add a teammate. Matt Lynn comes to mind. The guy has skills that need to be exploited. Seeing an Attack BMW Superbike with Jamie Hacking on it would absolutely cool. Jamie is probably the best "development" rider on the paddock. Seeing Aprilia race the V4 under MJ's banner would be equally cool. Yates might take issue, but the change might do him good. May will adapt to anything. Tim has a BIG sell to keep Corona. I think that Corona should team up with Erion and what ever Kevin races next season- Triumph's Daytona 675 would be great for the class. Sorry, Neil. Hope you stay in the states. I hope that RMR runs the Buell next season in both classes and that Rossmeyer is still on the bikes (RIP Bruce). They deserve that and Bruce's family will continue to opertate the company as usual- so, why not? If KTM would jump in the mix that would be swell, but where would they go? Tim!, you listening. Maybe he can get RedBull to put RC8s in the field. Their's your ride Neil. You've done well on twins in your career. Gotta go- bye bye
MV Man -Road race future  August 10, 2009 01:42 PM
Eddie K., well said, and not a moment to soon. This ridiculous feeding frenzy must stop for our own good.
Uncle Vito -This year was a disaster, but the future may not be so bad  August 10, 2009 01:27 PM
In the short term, I think a lot of the top talent will try to make the jump to Europe and the international series if they can. In the long run, we have to adopt a wait and see attitude. The Daytona Sportbike class has provided some interesting and entertaining racing, and they've gone back to a more viewer friendly TV format. Some of DMG's ideas I think will work in the long run. (For instance, mandatory autograph sessions would probably go smoothly if the riders weren't so pissed off about other stuff.) Other ideas, (pace bike/car and rolling starts to name two) have got to go. DMG also has the right idea in bringing in more brands and making them competitive, but if they keep up the appearance of favoritism to Buell, they could actually begin to lose brands. I had high hopes for DMG, but this year has been a disaster. The Topeka round was a joke and the latest screwup. I hope they do better in the future. (Posted this earlier in the wrong article)
Superbikemike -Straighten the rules out..........  August 10, 2009 12:47 PM
AMA Superbike needs to mimic, the World Superbike rules.....make it easy on the manufactures to produce one bike for all the series (World,British,German,Austr.,AMA) all they gotta do is tune the bikes to the different fuels used, not an easy task, but doable. DMG pull your head outta your @ss.....PLEASE!!! Your killing our Superbike racing.....the bikes are nothing more than superstock bikes from last year.....I use to travel up and down the east coast following the series.......you couldn't pay me to attend now with these rules, and my family won't be attending either...STOP the MADNESS!!!
There is a larger -road racing world...  August 10, 2009 12:26 PM
Just stating that the racing is better because it is closer (though Mladin has still won over half the races) loses sight of the fact that there is a road racing community outside of the states. I do want good racing in the AMA, but it's also important to me to know that our home grown racers are every bit as good as those on the international stage or those in different countries (i.e. WSBK, BSB) - part of that includes machinery. Why is it that when whenever WSBK visits Donington Park, the BSB leaders will come out and race but when WSBK visits Miller we hardly get any US representation. Part of that is indeed the rider's commitment, but a significant part of that is learning completely new machinery. Just has Blake Young how different FIM superbikes are compared to 'American Superbikes'. If we keep 'dumbing down' our equipment our riders will be the laughing stock of the road racing community. I wonder what F1 drivers (or WSBK/MotoGP riders for that matter) think of our stock car drivers not running on road courses in the rain because it is 'too dangerous'...
Eddie K -AMA Road Racing What Will It Become  August 10, 2009 10:54 AM
Disagree with the whole DMG/AMA ruined things spiel, the racing is the best it has been in years, period. Starting a new series in this economy is about one of the worst ideas I have heard in a while, but then may be all the armchair promoters know something everyone else doesn't. Starting to think that motorcyclists just want to complain because thinking about solutions is just outside of their mental comfort zone. Our industry is likely to see some of the best growth ever in the next few years, but that all depends on whether all of us stop complaining and start working to improve things. It all comes down to selling more bikes - and get this, I am not talking about 1,300cc death machines, I am talking about motorcycles that are safe and fun to ride. We should be looking to sell 5 to 15 millions units a year, not 1 million units a year. All of us can help - especially the media. Take this article for instance, for years motorcyclists have complained about the factory control over the series, now that is changing and instead of the article leading with the positive things featured at the end of the article it questions the future of racing, give me a break. Comparing road racing to dirt track, wow is that off base. Did any of you see the dirt track race on TV, oh yeah that is going to sell sponsorships. And finally all you media people, how about instead of complaining about how bad things are you start mentioning all the outside the industry sponsors and writing articles about why they are sponsoring motorcycle racing (Rockstart, Monster, Makita, National Guard, Foremost Insurance, Geico, Corona) in all your articles instead of just mentioning the rider's names since the sponsors are the ones who are footing the bill for the sport we love. Spend a little time watching how NASCAR pumps sponsors and you will be doing something productive. There is no question that motorcycle racing is the best racing in motorsports, the question is can we as a group develop the skills required to grow the industry and stop complaining.
Steve Atlas -RE: AMAFAN - position defense  August 10, 2009 10:01 AM
This is such a complex topic, but from an inside point of view here’s the basics: While the racing is better, it's far more dangerous, the bikes allowed in certain classes are totally unfair, they have favored Buell countless times and bent the rules for them and it’s making all the other teams very unhappy, and the presentation at the races is lackluster at best.

DMG had said from the beginning they were good at two things coming from NASCAR: Race promotion and TV coverage. Up until they changed the TV package a couple races ago it was a 2-week late joke and the promotion of races has been awful and thus no fans are attending.

They have also alienated themselves from the riders and teams with their favoritism and whacky rules, creating an extremely hostile environment at the track. This can all be easily seen and felt at the track, which means when teams bring potential sponsors out the sport is a hard sell as it comes off as nothing more than a glorified club race.

And it's a shame too, as you're totally right that the racing in Superbike is the best it's been in half a decade and it pains me to see all the problems the series has when the riders are out there putting on such an awesome show.

I could keep going and do an entire new Editorial about this (maybe I will someday) but I hope this helps clarify...

-STEVE-O
cggunnersmate -Pace Car  August 10, 2009 09:28 AM
According to an MCUSA article DMG will be switching to pace/safety bikes. They're Buells of course. At least they'll be easier for the riders to dodge when they come over a blind hill and find the bike parked in the middle of the track!
AMAFAN -position defense  August 10, 2009 09:20 AM
Steve, Can you explain why you say AMA Pro Racing is worse in 2009? Watching on TV and at the track it looks like some of the best racing the series has ever seen, for example there are multiple brands and riders battling for wins.
Tessier -Pace Car  August 10, 2009 08:52 AM
All I know is I just can't wait to see what antic's the pace car has up it's sleeves for next year. I think that was the performance that stole the show.
Dant the Canadian -New Series...........  August 10, 2009 05:05 AM
Someone should just start a new series!!!!!!!!!1