Back in the Saddle Again: Big Bikes Return to the DAYTONA 200

NEWS February 13, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again: Big Bikes Return to the DAYTONA 200

Photo by Brian J Nelson

Written by Evan Williams:

February 13, 2014 - AMA Pro Racing’s announcement that the 2015 DAYTONA 200 will return as an AMA Pro SuperBike event was a welcome change for America’s most prestigious and historical motorcycle road race.

The biggest race needs to have the best riders and the baddest bikes. It’s that simple.

The reason for the switch a decade ago was some notable tire failures in testing ten years ago. The change to 1000cc SuperBikes and the high-speed banking made it tough on the race tire folks and the Speedway took the proactive approach to switching to the smaller bikes. The “new” infield course took away a significant part of the banking, too. It was the right thing to do at the time.

It is hard to believe it has been ten years since the event switched to 600cc machinery and there have been some close contests with the middleweight bikes, last year’s dominating performance by Cameron Beaubier not withstanding. 600cc class racing will always be cool at The Speedway and the combination of high speeds and lesser-powered bikes has emphasized drafting and close racing, but the series’ marquee race of the year needs to be the premier class.

From a historical perspective, the race started out as a combined beach/street event before moving to the Speedway in the early 1960s. The configuration has changed many times, as well as the spec of the bikes. Change is really the one constant, whether it was Ed Kretz taking victory on the beach, Gary Nixon winning on a Triumph. Kenny Roberts on a beastly two-stroke, or Scott Russell whipping Carl Fogarty on a SuperBike.

For the riders, a DAYTONA 200 win is a career milestone. Most all of the American greats have won the DAYTONA 200. Winning a Daytona SuperBike race isn’t quite the same.

AMA Pro is clearly looking to make the series more attractive to manufacturers, too. The allure of winning the DAYTONA 200 and the combination of speed and endurance has its place. Adding your brand to the list of winners in March happens just in time as things heat up and the sales season begins.

The DAYTONA 200 has a worldwide cachet and there is a history of involvement from racers and brands from all over the world. With Superbike rules around the world continuing to move to more of a stock configuration, moving the DAYTONA 200 back to a Superbike race is a nice carrot, indeed.

It’s a good step.


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