FAM Convention Debate

This article first appeared in the August 14, 1909 Indianapolis Star. The occasion was coverage of the first motorcycle race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but this specifically focused on the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) convention that was running concurrently during the week of the race. FAM was the sanctioning body of the race meet and was the leading organization representing the interests of motorcyclists to Federal and State Government.
One issue - the definition of amateur riders - dominated the meeting and apparently generated much rancor among convention attendees. A committee that included FAM President Earle Ovington submitted a report which immediately triggered an outburst of debate. Classifications of rider were agreed on: private owner, amateur, trade rider and professional. Private owners were amateurs but not all amateurs owned their bikes. The trade riders had their expenses covered but drew no salary or cash from race purses. One camp held that private owners who raced against professionals should be classified as professionals.
The designation of the private owner apparently was the key trigger of debate. Important forces in the dispute were the Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) and the Chicago Athletic Association. AAU President J.E. Sullivan did not support the idea of private owners as professionals simply because they raced against each other. These groups threatened to withdraw support for the sport if what they believed were amateurs were designated as professionals.
The article also includes a schedule of events but this would change as events unfolded. Accidents and the withdrawal of riders due to track conditions forced adjustments in the program.

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