Chris Ulrich has been involved with the AMA for nearly two decades, to say that he’s a staple of the league would be a massive understatement. Earlier this week, Ulrich, the son of Roadracing World Magazine’s John Ulrich, announced that he will no longer compete in 2016 AMA/FIM MotoAmerica superbike competition.During the most recent superbike races at Road Atlanta, Ulrich was forced to sit in the paddock due to an aggravated shoulder, which he injured continuously over the past decade. The pain and inflammation increased following a preseason test at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. And now, at 36-years-old, he has announced retirement but will focus on team management and developing younger riders.
“My shoulder really bothered me at Road Atlanta and I couldn’t wrestle the bike through the esses and into the corners quickly enough to turn the lap times I’ve done before. To make things worse, my arm was fatiguing after five laps and I was getting behind on the steering,” Ulrich said. “It wasn’t a good situation.“In the last couple of seasons it hasn’t only been the shoulder, it’s been one injury after another affecting my ability to train, which affected my ability to race. As hard as it was to make the decision, when I withdrew from the races, I realized that I felt relieved.“It isn’t just the injuries. My heart just isn’t in it anymore. The added responsibilities that I have taken on with Team Hammer and the M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki program have made it more and more difficult to concentrate on racing a Superbike. It became very clear to me that as much as I have loved racing since I was a kid, it just isn’t something that I need to be doing right now.“My racing future is in team management. What I need to do now is help my family’s team continue to focus on what it has always done well: Building fast Superstock and Supersport bikes and scouting, recruiting and developing talented young riders to put those bikes on the podium.“I also look forward to continuing to help promote the MotoAmerica series by doing pre-race two-up Superbike rides for the media. They’re just a couple of laps long, and involve rolling the bike smoothly into the corners. I can still do that; you don’t want to be throwing the bike into the turns with a passenger.“I am very thankful that I was able to race professionally for as long as I have and to learn as much as I have about the racing business. I am also thankful that racing has allowed me to meet so many great people from all over the world. See you at the track!”That is tough news to take, but the honesty in his assessment cannot be denied. Ulrich gave his all over the years, through the highs and lows of American Road Racing. His contributions are indisputable and his reasoning for leaving the world of road racing, as far as being a pilot goes, has come to an end.Many have said that management and racing simultaneously is unattainable. It is a situation where one needs to make the choice: Manage the team or lead the charge on the track but attempting to divide your efforts to both endeavors rarely works.To date, Ulrich has won AMA Pro National races and finished in the top five overall points standings. He’s graced Pro-race podiums 10 times over and lent a hand to the overall WERA National Endurance Championship four times.We wish you the best, Chris.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.