Fall arrived in Wisconsin this past weekend with near-perfect Indian summer conditions. With temps in the high 60s and the Maple leaves just starting to turn, it was perfect conditions for riding motorcycles. Or painting an ancient, wood-sided house, which was how I spent my weekend. Ah, the joys of home ownership.
One upside to being elbow-deep in house projects all weekend, aside from the silicone-caulk contact high, was waking up Monday morning to a DVR full of roadracing action from this weekend’s AMA national at Homestead-Miami Speedway. What I witnessed on my flat screen made me almost as happy as that fresh coat of Glidden Peabody Grey on the front of my house.
Like many, I’ve lost some enthusiasm for AMA roadracing over the last few years. Clumsy management and too few riders winning too many races had dulled the series’ sheen, but that’s just not the case any longer. Slight rules adjustments and, more importantly, a spending “realignment” on the part of cash-strapped factories that now makes it easier for privateers to compete, have made American roadracing more exciting than it’s been in years.
Last season’s final round at New Jersey Motorsports Park was one of the most thrilling races in AMA history, and this past weekend’s action at Homestead was only more evidence that AMA Superbike racing is back and better than ever. At first it looked like another Yamaha/Josh Hayes hammerfest, with the defending champ entering the weekend with 13 AMA Superbike victories this season (and a new series record of 10 in a row). Then Roger Lee Hayden bounced Hayes off the pole, and when Hayes uncharacteristically crashed in the early laps of Race 1, it became a dogfight between Hayden, Blake Young and underdog Erik Buell Racing rider Danny Eslick. Hayden went on to win his career-first Superbike victory, while Eslick—who passed and repassed Young countless times—finished second ahead of Young’s once-unbeatable Yoshimura Suzuki machine.
Race 2, held in wet-but-drying conditions that tested machine set-up and rider courage alike, was even more unpredictable and action-packed. Eslick’s EBR teammate Geoff May and KTM-mounted (!) Chris Fillmore both lead laps in the first half of the race, before eventually ceding the lead to GSX-R mounted Hayden and his teammate Ben Bostrom. Despite being down 20 seconds at one point, a resurgent Hayes threaded the field to win the race, followed by the Attack Performance Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R ridden by Steve Rapp.
Multiple leaders, multiple winners, multiple bike brands and multiple engine configurations all competing equally with close, competitive, and aggressive racing deep into the field? This is as good as American roadracing has been decades, and you’ve still got time to catch one more round in person, on October 5-7, at the brand-new NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. If not, at least take a minute to cue it up on your DVR. That’s what I’ll probably be doing, since I’m nowhere near finished painting this house yet.