Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1979 03 14

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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AMA should correct this. At our last road racing meeting it was recommended that they drop that term "Production" but they've obviously refused to do so. Superbike racing is designed to emulate NASCAR or Funny Cars at the drag races. You have a machine that from 10 feet away looks like what you already have or what you would buy. We finally got them to change the muffler rule (and that took two years) . Anyone who buys a Zl has a Kirker or a Bassani or a Denco or a Russ Collins pipe on it. So why shouldn't we race with those pipes? If we do , then those people will come in and put up money for us to race . That's the beauty of Superbike racing. Another thing people overlook is the sound. A lot of the draw to racing is the noise, the emotion, the primeval picture you get from the four-strokes . One cannot help but like the sound. The thought of the new six cylinder Honda, which unfortunately has not been approved by the AMA to Superbike racing, the thought of that bike with two collectors on it, or the sound of that Suzuki ripping the air with that four-stroke power - it's like being in a Formula One race. That noise is phenomenal and it's a big part of our racing. That's why many years ago I fought stringently against the AMA when they put mufflers on it. I can understand them muffling dirt racing because many times those areas are near homes where noise would be a bother. But if race cars are not muffled, and we run on race car - tracks, then we shouldn't be muffled . However, at the dBA level we're at, we still get a nice tone. How many riders are now involved . in the Superbike class? At Laguna Seca we had a larger entry than the F750 class . Our starting grid was about 39 or 40 riders. At Daytona last year they had 60 riders, or maybe more. And we're going to see more and more because of the support available. You have dealers and small distributors who can take a bike and go to a Yoshimura, for example, and spend $2000-$3000 getting the head, piston , cam, crank, whatever t~e components, bolted in , make a few frame modifications, and they're on the race track. Granted, the best Superbike, the Yoshimura bike, and one must be honest - they won five of the six races last year so let's say they are the best - the bike 1 had, the bike Wester rode, cost comparable to a Yamaha 750, about $10 ,000 to build. But for the average guy, you're really looking at somewhere about $5 ,000. They can put a set of wheels on it, do a little frame modification, get some engine parts - it's a $5000 hit. So it's cheaper than a Yamaha , and not only is it cheaper, there are hundreds of outlets available for free work and sponsorship. One example is head work. You don't have , to go to a two-stroke . specialist. You go to a guy who does V8's, Indy cars or Ford racing cars, get your stuff done, and they'll sponsor you ; Valves, for example; there are hundreds of areas where sponsorship is now available through the Superbike category that's not available to us in road racing. And the aftermarket people . Who makes aftermarket shocks for an OW31 Yamaha? Yamaha . No one else does. And it's a monoshock on top of it. It 's only one shock where the majority of street bikes ' are dual shocks. Now we have the option of Mulholland , S & W, Koni , hundreds of others where they'll come in and get involved. Koni was involved with Baldwin's Moto Guzzi. They don't sell 50 or 60 ()W31s a year, but how many Zl s are on the road, how many 750s? If an average guy owned a ZI and wanted to go Superbike racing, realistically speaking, wouldn't it still cost quite a lump to be competitive? No racing, whether it's AFM local racing or AMA National racing, is cheap. Racing costs money. But the ability to get offset by just being a rider , rather than a promoter or a salesman, is very great when compared to the F750 class which is highly limited. It's also interesting to note, • that we've developed incredible riders : Baldwin, Schlachter, Sing leron , Aksland , Cooley, I can name about a dozen guys on a world market (we demolished them at Imola last year and there were still other guys here who were capable and could have gone - that was only part of our group of "fast guys") . We have produced, with very small purse money and revenues, these racers and they are all running on total deficit spending. They are spending way more, than what the potential is, After the AMA meeting, Boyce had the read out on what everybody made and we were going over it. Last year, I don't know many Nationals he won, but I think it was three out of the five You could probably do the whole year, including transportation and accommodations on aSuperbike effort only - and I'm not talking about going to the max, max - spending all the R&D money to have the fastest bike, etc ., but I would .say you could get by on $25,000 a year. That's not bad either. I spent $40,000 to do a Yamaha and if you notice, I don't have a 750 ride this year. I'm not going to flush $40,000 with a chance of making $5 ,900 . It's not going to happen . I'll ride Superbike. I get paid well to ride Superbike. Kawasaki's put up a very good bonus system for the . events. They've realized the value and I think that's a major issue here. I think by 1980 it's going to be the strongest category we have. Kawasaki has a team of ·t hree directly supported riders ; myself, Reg Pridmore and Mike Baldwin. Now, I'm not elgible for the Kawasaki bonus money, however, anybody else who enters a Kawasaki is. As far as the bonus money goes, if you're riding a Kawasaki and you win , you get $10 ,000 for Daytona and I think $5,000 for the others; except for . Laguna Seca which I think is worth or six available, Mike Baldwin grossed $11,000 from the AMA . Was that purse money only or did that include contingency money as well? I think , when' the AMA posts it , 'that's all the money they've paid out, so that would include contingency money that they administer. The AMA administers the majority of . the contingency money. Now I did three races last year and my gross income was about $6,000 from the AMA. That just goes to show - here's the most successful road racer in the U.S. winning $11,000 which doesn't equate to the cost of equipment and spare parts. Baldwin wasn't a sponsored rider , either. That's the problem. Most of these guys are pushing ahead on their own and either going in the hole or maybe getting some support somewhere ; whether it 's family support , or someone like Taylor White who owns a construction company and likes road racing. But we have very few of those good-hearted people. How much would it cost to prepare. for a season of serious Superbike racing? $10 ,000. You get $15 ,000 if you win the series championship. I think they've made a tremendous effort. Suzuki also has a contingency prqgram , but theirs works within the sight of the AMA. Suzuki has $2 ,000 up for Daytona and I think it's $1,500 for the others, except Laguna, which I believe is $2,000 also. I'm not sure if they have championship title money, but obviously Suzuki sees the value of the Superbike class, and who else to see it better than them? Their sales are very ·ind ica tive of their perfdrmance on the track. Is there a greater safety factor in the Superbike class? Well, 1 think in the five years we'v,e run the . category, we've proved the safety's there. One big concern: when we went away from the four-strokes in the early 70's , was that in those days the machines were a lot less reliable. They carried a lot more oil than what we carry now and oil was a big factor. Now it is not a big factor . 1 do not know of any individual that has crashed in Superbike racing due to oil coming out of anybody's bike. Whereas Baldwin supposedly got off at Laconia due to oil off the breather of Springsteen's Harley. But I don't know if that was true or false. I don't even . want to venture a guess one way or the other. But that instance has been very low. The caliber of riders has been difficult. The AMA has had to bend certain rules because we needed to build the class initially. What do you mean by "bending" rules? Well, maybe not "bending" rules. They had to make concessions to outside sanctioning bodies as far as licensing due to the AMA's different licensing system. Many people were qualified to ride in Superbike, but they didn't have AMA cards. Fortuntely, ' they allowed, through representatives to the committees, these people to be .moved up to where they could ride Superbikes. Superbike specialists in other organizations were allowed to get at the initial stages. Now they've cut this down because it's not necessary. The local clubs showed a lot of constraint and judgement. They had to send letters of acknowledgernent saying that this person was at a certain performance level, etc. The riders I've approved, from Cook Neilsen several years ago, forward, those people were really researched on my part, on the AMA's part , as well as on the local club level. It was a nice tie-in. It put the AMA closer to the local club level, and it gave us more riders in the field. The majority of the Class "C" riders, or the Grand National Championship circuit riders, because there are no points and very minimal purses until the past few years, have had no necessity to ride in the Superbike category. That's why you see very few of them there. I think we're going to see a big tum around in the next year and a half. I think we'll see more of the Grand National riders on production bikes. Not to say Aldana never was. If you remember, he won Daytona on the Dale Star machine. I think that was the first year of Superbike racing. Although it's a relatively new form of an old sport, Superbike racing appears to be the best thing that's happened to road racing in a long time. It's simply due to the marketing involved. I think the industry was under the impression they were in the commuter business. They've realized they're not . -They're in the leisure time, recreational vehicle business. The key issue to motorized sales in that area is performance. Now we're seeing a whole host of very technically sophisticated,very good machines coming out of the manufacturers. I'm sure that within the year we will See a Yamaha come out that will be eligible to ride in Superbike. In other words, their shaft drive right now is really not viable. I have a feeling they will develop something, whether they take an existing machine and alter it with a chain mechanism or asuperior shaft drive. They see the value of it . Yamaha's a very strong racing organization. Honda , on the other hand, is more conservative than the rest because they're the biggest. I think they're setting back still , but one more year and I believe we'll see them race. Their new CB 750 is an excellent machine. I think it would make an excellent Superbike racing machine. I think we'll see certain private people have them this year, not with any factory support , developing them and maybe next year the factory will step in . It's intelligent marketing sense. My family's been in the motorsports business one way or another for three generations. Historically, from Detroit automobile manufacturers , to airplane people, to boat makers , racing sells the product. On the 17

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