By Erek Kudla, AMA Off-Road Racing Manager
Classification of riders across the entire country is core to the AMA’s racing mission, along with the mission of all of our individual districts and series across the United States. The intent is to ensure fair competition on all levels of racing so that C’s, B’s and A’s have the best racing experience possible.
I grew up on the West Coast, where we generally all wanted to be “A” riders and get on that front row of the hare and hound start—see “On Any Sunday” (1971). Now that I oversee racing across the country, I’ve found that is it much more complicated than that on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
There is a very common, yet very wrong, practice of riders competing at one level in local events (say, the B class) and at another level in national series (say, the C class), especially by riders who compete in non-AMA-sanctioned series between nationals.
When asked, these riders will cite “increased competition” as the reason they bump down. My response: That’s what a national is! It’s national-level competition. It’s supposed to be harder than the local series. It’s not supposed to be easy.
I often use myself as an example.
While racing a local AMA District 37 Hare and Hound, a Top 10 finish was generally guaranteed. Not so much anymore, but back when I was “fast.” However, once an AMA National Hare and Hound came to town at the same venue, a Top 20—or even top 50— finish was elusive.
THAT’S how it is supposed to work.
The National Championships are the top of all competition in the discipline they represent.
Another example is moving from the West Coast to the East Coast. From winning an AMA Enduro title to literally being last place every race. That does not mean I am no longer an “A” rider. It just means I have more work ahead.
It all starts with the AA designation. AA and “pro” designated classes are added by the series promoter to identify the highest level of competition. In many cases, a local AA series rider may not be classified as AA nationally. In this case, these A riders can’t compete in the highest classification. Many observers then conclude that since these A riders “drop down” (even though they don’t), then B riders drop down, then C riders are stuck with a class full of B and sometimes even A riders.
There are only three classifications in AMA: A, B and C.
AA- and pro-designated classes are series-based A classes, and the riders are still A riders. Even at the top level. AMA National Championship Series—AMA National Enduro, GNCCs, AMA National Hare and Hound, the AMA/NATC National MotoTrials Series—the “pro” classes are the designated top classes. They are still an A class.
The AMA rules are very clear on classification. If you’re an A, then you’re an A, you’re an A. There is no way to have dual classification, unless you are an off-road racer competing in motocross or track racing or vice versa. In that case, you can vary by one skill level.
For example, if you are an A enduro rider, and you would like to race motocross, you can race no lower than the B class. If you are an A motocross rider, you can race no lower than B in GNCC, etc. If you’re caught riding out of class, the penalties are severe and can be as high as a one-year suspension. So, don’t do that, please.
The AMA wants to keep competition fair and balanced for all classes.
Sandbagging will not be tolerated. Competitors are not piling into the C class for some trophies, while the true C riders are left scratching their heads.
The riders themselves need to help police this for the good of the sport. If you see a rider riding down a class, let us know. Also, if you see this happening, don’t wait until halfway through the season. That just makes thing worse for all parties involved. If you’re argument is, “I’m not going to race this series if I can’t drop down,” that’s fine. We have to follow the rules at all racing series.
For riders who feel they are improperly classified, there is an entire classification/appeal process outlined in the AMA Racing Rulebook (section 2.1 in the off-road version).
Whatever you do, though, don’t “move yourself down.” You must follow the procedure in the rulebook. The 2020 rulebook is online now. So download it, save it on your phone, and keep it with you.
Finally, the AMA Results Center is full of all the results sent to us from across the entire United States. This is a great way to see where you and your competition stand. If you don’t see results listed from an AMA-sanctioned race you know happened, contact the organizing club and remind them to submit the results to the AMA, so you can track yourself throughout your entire racing career.