AMA Referee Training | So, You Want To Be A Referee… | Track Time

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) amateur race programs are feeder series to the big leagues of AMA Pro Racing. In order to promote fair competition, there needs to be a rulebook. And to enforce that rulebook, there need to be know-ledgeable, well-trained referees.

Unfortunately, not all AMA-sanctioned races have the services of a referee. The organization is trying to change that by offering free training at various events throughout 2012, with the goal of having one or more referees at every event in 2013.

We here at Motorcyclist are staunch supporters of amateur racing and would like to see enthusiasts get involved by volunteering as course workers, flagmen, scorers or, yes, even referees. To investigate that process, we attended an official training session at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The day-long seminar started out by going over pre-event details such as meeting senior members of the club putting on the race, as well as the flagmen, starter and medics, who need to know how to get to the nearest hospital. To command a bit of respect, refs must dress in official AMA garb and be available throughout the day.

Referees at amateur events must also know sound-testing procedures and have basic mechanical skills, including how to measure an engine’s bore and stroke to determine its displacement. These key elements of ref’ing a race were demonstrated in class and performed by participants. If they’re lucky, a ref can have a master mechanic in the pits to verify engine size.

As for rules enforcement, Harv Whipple, the AMA’s chief professional motocross and arenacross referee, said that refs must be fair but firm. They must have intimate knowledge of the rulebook for their particular discipline and stick by their decisions, even though there are some “gray areas” in every set of procedural and technical rules. “The last thing you want to do is disqualify a rider,” he stressed. “We’re there to help, not hinder the racing.”

Generally, referees are long-time racers or racing enthusiasts. At the AMA amateur competition level, they are categorized as A, B, C or Master Ref. The latter is one who has a number of years under his/her belt and has passed all of the disciplines' tests.

More seminars will be announced for 2012 and, eventually, there will be an online curriculum and referee tests. For more information, log on to MC

Rules are made to be broken, but it’s a referee’s job to make sure they’re not. Here, trainees learn how to check that engine displacement is within spec.
Noise emissions are an increasingly sensitive subject, especially at enduros and off-road races. AMA refs learn to use decibel meters to insure compliance.