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AMA Pro Racing partners with SFI Foundation to kick off 2000 season safety initiatives

6 January 2000

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Pro Racing has joined with SFI Foundation, Inc., to begin a comprehensive third-party review of existing AMA Pro Racing safety procedures, and to develop and strengthen safety standards in all race disciplines.

SFI, Inc., brings nearly 40 years of motorsports safety expertise to AMA Pro Racing. Created by the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) in 1963, but operating as a separate entity for many years, SFI includes a number of national and international motorsport sanctioning bodies among its clientele, including: the Federation Internationale De L'Automobile (FIA), the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), theSports Car Club of America (SCCA), the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the United States Auto Club (USAC).

NHRA Vice President Carl Olson's experience with SFI supports AMA Pro Racing's expectations for safety enhancement in all race series.

"Today, NHRA incorporates no less than 48 product-related SFI specifications within its rules, as well as SFI Technical Inspector and Emergency Response Worker Certification programs. Over the years, the SFI Specification and Certification programs have significantly reduced injuries resulting from racing-related accidents. They have helped to make the racing environment much safer for our drivers, event workers and spectators."

"This association with SFI is a big step in a continuing effort to improve safety at AMA Pro Racing events," said AMA Pro Racing Director of Competition Merrill Vanderslice. "Their experience, resources and access to professionals already working in all aspects of motorsports safety will allow us to move forward in a very short time. Our mutual goal is to bring AMA Pro Racing to the same high standards that other SFI clients have established."

SFI staff will begin with reviews of several existing AMA Pro Racing programs, including the Track Review Advisory Committee (TRAC), the AMA Pro Marshals program and AMA Pro Racing Tech Inspection.

"This program is a first for professional motorcycle racing," said Arnold Kuhns, President of SFI, Inc. "Some existing SFI programs from other forms of racing will apply, but we'll develop new training programs and standards for AMA Pro Racing. We'll also evaluate the procedures AMA officials currently use, and recommend changes wherever we see a need. Our immediate plans call for reviewing existing command and control operations, incident response, tech inspection and current SFI standards and their applications to motorcycles."

SFI staff are already working on the AMA Pro Marshals program, which was created in 1997 and has trained hundreds of cornerworkers in motorcycle-specific flagging and response techniques. SFI is in the process of developing advanced training and certification standards for cornerworkers and incident response personnel working at AMA Pro Racing events.

The AMA Pro Racing Track Review Advisory Committee (TRAC), which has successfully guided motorcycle-specific changes at road-race facilities, including significant modifications to Sears Point and New Hampshire International Raceway, will also benefit from SFI cooperation and experience. In addition, a subcommittee of the Progressive Insurance AMA U.S. Flat Track Advisory Board will begin work in 2000 with regional testing teams, to make recommendations to race facilities regarding track surfaces and preparation, and this Board will have access to SFI expertise as well.

In a recent effort to address command and control issues, management staff for the 2000 Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship are also working to create a video network which will be used in conjunction with traditional cornerworker radio communications. Live video from cameras positioned around the track will feed to a central bank of monitors, providing real-time imagery of road-course circuits. The video network will also enable race controllers to record and replay portions of events.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.