First-Generation Superbikes bikes featured class for AHRMA in 2022
(February 2021, Elora, Tennessee) Motorcycles that launched the careers of several iconic road racers will be the featured class for the 2022 American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) Bridgestone Tires National Historic Cup Roadrace Series.
AHRMA’s 2022 “Vintage Cup” class will be Vintage Superbike Heavyweight which brings the original Superbikes from the late 1970s and early 1980s back to the track.
This class recreates and preserves the look and feel of this important era of road racing and showcases these unique machines. Superbikes of that era were based on street-legal models available for sale at any motorcycle dealership. Most lacked the streamlined bodywork, low, clip-on style handlebars and rear-set foot pegs of purpose-built Gran Prix motorcycles. Instead, riders sat almost upright on the machines. Wider handlebars gave the racer the leverage needed to wrestle the large bikes around a racing circuit.
The AHRMA Vintage Superbike Heavyweight class is for motorcycles produced through 1982 with unlimited displacement for twin-cylinder motors and three-cylinder motors with “pushrod” valves. Four-cylinder machines are limited to either 931cc or 1,025cc depending on the model.
A typical starting grid for the class may include a BMW R90, BSA Rocket 3, Kawasaki Z1 and GPZ 1000, Honda CB 750 and 900, Yamaha XS650 and Seca, Suzuki GS 750, 1000 and Katana. These are the same bikes that storied racers such as Wes Cooley, Reg Pridmore, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey rode to victory during the early years of Superbike competition in the United States.
“In the last few years, we’ve noticed some of the AHRMA classes for older, higher-performance race bikes were getting a bit thin as a result of these bikes being really raced hard,” said Arthur Kowitz, 2021 Chair of the AHRMA Board of Trustees. “To get these bikes back on the track where they belong, AHRMA introduced the ‘Vintage Cup’ program during 2018 to draw attention to our more traditional vintage classes.”
The annual Vintage Cup spotlights one of AHRMA’s road racing classes with extra to competitors in the selected class during each race event. Enhanced awards for the Vintage Cup competitors are presented separately from other class trophies during the awards ceremony at each AHRMA National Historic Cup Roadrace event. Highlights from each Vintage Superbike Heavyweight race will be reported in RoadracingWorld.com’s online edition. At the conclusion of the 2022 season, the Vintage Cup trophy will be engraved with the national champion winner’s name and presented to the winner to keep in their trophy room.
“The first Vintage Cup class was 350 Grand Prix, it’s a class for middleweight pure race bikes and replicas from the late 60s. These are cool bikes, but racers just weren’t bringing them out as much,” Kowitz said. “By offering enhanced media coverage, trick new trophies, and other benefits, our first year Vintage Cup class received a noticeable boost of enthusiasm. All season long 350GP enjoyed more entries, more fans watching the races, and a general boost in status. It worked.”
AHRMA followed the next year by selecting the 500 Premier class for the Vintage Cup. This was an even bigger challenge as the bikes typically raced in this class, including Norton Manxes and Matchless G50s, are becoming almost too valuable to be raced. “500 Premier, one of AHRMA’s most prestigious vintage road racing classes, was given the honor of 2020 Vintage Cup class, but COVID-19 compromised the 2020 racing program. We gave 500 Premier a mulligan by naming it as the 2021 Vintage Cup class. “
The first event of the 2021 AHRMA road racing season at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia, demonstrated the effectiveness of the Vintage Cup in bringing more bikes to the track.
“The 2021 Vintage Cup 500 Premier races at Roebling Road had entries exceeding previous years and all expectations,” Kowitz said. “The racing was exciting to watch and must have been even more thrilling for the racers. It worked again.”
AHRMA had intended to announce the 2022 Vintage Cup class later during the 2021 racing season in order to keep the spotlight on the 2021 Vintage Cup class. However, AHRMA officials recognized that announcing the 2022 class earlier in the year would give racers more time to acquire, build and test their machines.
Kowitz said AHRMA announced the class earlier at the request of AHRMA members who wanted to start racing their bikes during 2021 so they would be ready to battle for the Vintage Cup during 2022.
AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving, restoring, and competing on historic motorcycles. With over 3000 members, AHRMA is the leading historic motorcycle racing group in North America and one of the largest in the world. The association’s enthusiastic membership reflects this country’s strong interest in classic bikes.