Though he spent the last 18 years as owner and operator of the AMA/Prostar motorcycle drag-racing series, Keith Kizer is well versed in all forms of two-wheeled competition. At age 11 he raced flat-track in Houston, Texas (where he later worked alongside Kevin Schwantz at Hurst Yamaha and Marine), and he also dabbled in amateur roadracing before being lured into drag racing by his brother, Terry "Mr. Turbo" Kizer. Now he returns to his roots to fill the newly created AMA Road Race Director position.
1.How's the new job? Any surprises?
"I love it! I absolutely love it! One thing that did surprise me, though, was how badly the roadrace program needed a new management style. Morgan Broadhead [new AMA Road Race Manager] and I have turned it 180 degrees, I believe. We started by asking every racer, team and track owner what they disliked about the AMA and took it from there. Everybody who enters the paddock is our customer, and we treat them like that now."
2. There have been many personnel changes inside AMA Pro Racing over the last year. Do you have the right team in place now?
"The personnel changes we've made have been excellent. It's the perfect team, and honestly, it came together much sooner than I expected."
3. Do you have any big plans for the AMA Superbike series in the near future?
"My first concern is rider safety, and the Rider's Safety council has made huge changes this year. I can't take credit for that; it's been driven by the riders. I'll continue to work with them to help to pinpoint safety changes that need to be made to the tracks so we can make racing safer for them. We're also working on revamping our class structure-we're committed to the current structure through 2008, but we're working on new classes and rules for '09."
4. AMA has a broad mission with its three Rs: Rights, Riding and Racing. How important is racing to the AMA's larger mission?
"Racing is very important to the AMA, which is why it's invested in a complete overhaul of the racing department. All three Rs are equally important, but racing is what most people think about when they think about the AMA. Racing gets the most exposure-and the most criticism, too."
5. What was the best moment for you so far in your new position?
"The best moment so far was seeing the last checkered flag fly at Daytona. That event was very controversial in '06, and we came into it this year with a completely new staff and new people in every key position. All eyes were on us, and they were looking for us to make a mistake. We had some challenges, but when the event was over we made the right decisions, held our ground and put on a great event."