"It was just a recognition of reality," says AADA vice president Elmer "Hutch" Huggins.
The remark refers to the AADA's recently-announced reclassification of divisional tournament autoduelling. The Competition Committee ruled in February that the "Unlimited" division, once open to vehicles costing over $30,000, is now obsolete. In its place are four new divisions, joining the established Divisions 5 through 30. In addition, the AADA has ruled that all personal equipment - not just body armor - must be counted when determining total cost for division eligibility.
Divisions 40, 60, 80, and 100 have draw excited - and sometimes furious - comment from many professional autoduellists. "It's just big money talking," says noted combatant Delmore Simpson, 2036 Dixie Duel Circuit Unlimited Champion. "The sponsors want more champions, because they publicize the products better. It's an inflation of glory, like inflating money by printing more of it."
Other duellists disagree. "Unlimited was such a vague category," says Wisconsin Division 20 titleholder Mike "Squeeze" Dobson. "There were $35,000 trikes and $85,000 helicopters in the same arena. There's at least three big rigs, over $100,000 each, competing right now. That's just silly. How are the fans going to know if the match is a fair contest?"
AADA VP Huggins echoes the charge. "The equipment keeps getting better, more accurate, and more expensive. Uncle Albert recently released a new catalog update - I could hardly believe the prices. You can add 20K in electronics easy these days, without appreciably hurting your weight or space situation."
Huggins said improved technology was also to blame for the change in the way hand weapons were treated. "It used to be a duellist would carry a heavy pistol and a couple of grenades, and compared to a car's firepower, it was insignificant. Now, with laser LAWs, anti-vehicular ammo, and other advances, that hand-weapon firepower is much more dangerous, and should be part of the cost limits."
Though there has been "a certain dissenting element" who have sent email protests to AADA chapter HQs across the continent, Wendland says the majority of members support the new rules. The new divisions went into effect Jan. 1, 2037, and preliminary reports from the arenas seems to indicate a growing acceptance of the new plan as duellists see it in action.
Under this plan, vehicles costing more than $100,000 are specifically excluded from competition. "The fatality rate when those monsters are in the arena is unacceptably high," Huggins said, though he said the decision would be reviewed at the end of the year. "After all, defensive technology is advancing as fast as offense. Who knows? We may bring back Unlimited again."
Established divisions (5 through 30) remain as before. Division 40 includes all vehicles costing $30,001-$40,000, Division 60 covers $40,001-$60,000, and so on. Vehicles costing up to $100,000 are eligible for Division 100 competition, but more expensive vehicles are prohibited from competing in AADA-sanctioned events.
Note that the cost limit for competing in a particular division not only counts the cost of the vehicle, but the cost of body armor, hand weapons, and all other personal equipment brought into the arena.