2009 Mid-Ohio Honda Super Cycle Weekend – AMA Pro Motorcycle Racing Lives!
From July 17th – 19th, hundreds of motorcycles, riders and thousands of fans descended on Mid-Ohio to check out Honda Super Cycle Weekend and witness AMA Pro Racing at its finest. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to see a bike race and relive the excitement of my old riding days and it was both nostalgic and invigorating. Mid-Ohio is a storied track that is situated in rural Lexington, about 90 miles Southwest of downtown Cleveland. Four classes of sportbikes went head-to-head on the 2.4-mile, 15-turn road course looking for top place finishes or at least a move up in the point standings.
This road course is known as “the most competitive” in the United States and is an amazing venue, with its numerous hills, turns and bridges, to watch this sport. Friday consisted of practice sessions and some qualifying, part of which unfortunately got rained out. Saturday’s highlights included the Moto-GT 2 hour team race and the first American Superbike and Daytona SportBike races. Sunday rounded out the weekend with the second Daytona SportBike and American Superbike races as well as the SuperSport race. If all of this sounds a little confusing, let’s break down the classes.
The MotoGT class features exciting 2 hr endurance races (except for the season finale 8 hrs at Daytona) that are pretty much all inclusive, with participating motorcycles pulled from more than 40 different makes and models. Due to the length of these races, teams of rider, typically a pair, compete using the same bike. These machines must have a minimum weight of 365 to 390 lbs and run spec fuel and tires. As endurance racing is becoming more and more popular in motosports, the AMA has taken notice and provided a great new format.
Race Results: Dane Westby and Dustin Meador on their Yamaha YZF-R6 took the checkered flag for the APA Pro Moto-GT after 76 laps of racing
American Superbike is really the premier racing class with the most powerful production motorcycles from each manufacturer run in modified form with spec tires and spec fuel. These bikes include four-cylinder bikes such as the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Honda CBR1000RR and Yamaha R1 as well as two-cylnder machines such as the Buell 1125CR and Ducati 1098R. One stipulation is that the two-cylinder, four-stroke bikes must have a minimum post race weight of 375 lbs. and are capped at maximum displacement of 1000cc while two-stroke, four-cylinder machines have a loftier weight restriction of 390 lbs. but no displacement limit. These bikes are slightly modified as well and often have fuel tanks that are swapped out or revised in some way. As long as they still maintain the stock appearance and enough petrol to finish a 50-mile race, they are compliant.
Results: Race 1 – Josh Hayes claimed his second career AMA Pro American Superbike win on his Yamaha R1
Results: Race 2 – Josh Hayes claimed his third career AMA Pro American Superbike win on his Yamaha R1
Daytona SportBike is a new ‘middleweight class’ that features a diverse mix of quick and nimble 600cc bikes that compete alongside big-bore bikes with lots of power and torque. Eligible 600cc bikes include Yamaha YZF-R6, Suzuki GSX-R600, Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and of course the Triumph Daytona 675. The big boys on the field consist of the Buell 1125R, Aprilia RSV1000R and Ducati 848. These bikes all have four-strokes engines and must maintain a minimum weight of 365 – 385 lbs. Only minimal modification and engine tuning are allowed and these machines must use stock transmissions. That said, performance is still phenomenal and these bikes can exceed 175 mph on straight-aways. Each race includes only 10 eligible bikes.
Results: Race One – Danny Eslick grabbed his fourth career AMA Pro Daytona SportBike win on his Buell 1125R
Results: Race Two – Danny Eslick grabbed his fifth career AMA Pro Daytona SportBike win on his Buell 1125R
SuperSport is a new 600cc entry-level class for professional riders ages 16-21. These up-and-comers compete using the same bikes featured in the Daytona SportBike division but in less modified form. The AMA restricts competition for any Pro Road Racing Class to those 16 years and older. In addition, once a rider reaches 21, they can no longer compete in the Supersport class. And if a rider is competing in a different class and finishes in the top 10, they can’t drop down to the Supersport class to compete even if they are between the ages of 16 and 21.
Results: Josh Day earned his first career AMA Pro SuperSport win on his Yamaha YZF-R6
Overall it was a fantastic event program with lots of racing excitement, plenty of top-tier vendors displaying their goods, and a friendly, enthusiastic crowd. One of the highlights of the 2009 Honda Super Cycle Weekend was just walking around and talking to folks about their bikes, reliving various harrowing experiences and comparing notes.
Unlike many raceways, Mid-Ohio doesn’t have a large grandstand. But this is actually a big plus as there is plenty of expansive green space with great vantage points from which to spread out your blanket, relax and watch the races. There is no crazy assigned seating to speak of or Southwest- style rushes to grab desirable viewing places. And the added bonus of infield parking with campgrounds is a welcome convenience. It’s fantastic to be able to keep coolers of food and drink in your trunk and just stroll back to the car whenever you get hungry or need libations. Next time, I think I’ll bring a walkie-talkie as well to keep in contact with the crew. Cell-phone reception is a little spotty if you are near a heavily forested area of the track. All in all, it was a terrific event.Also, be sure to check out the Umbrella Girls from AMA Pro Racing.