The Usual Suspects

Henny Ray Abrams | June 1, 2011

BROOKLYN, NY, JUNE 1 – Of the 15 podium Superbike podium positions up for grabs this year, 14 have been taken by three riders. Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes and Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammates Blake Young and Tommy Hayden have owned the podium this season and it’s not likely to change this weekend at the Subway Superbike Doubleheader.Last Monday’s Superbike race at Miller Motorsports Park – won by Young over Hayes and Hayden – was tense and dramatic and hard-fought, but the finish wasn’t in doubt for the final quarter of the lap. One of the flaws of MMP is that the finish line is too close to the final left-hand corner. Lead onto the front straight and you’re likely to win. Not so at Road America. The high-speed track almost always provides great finishes, with the dramatic run up the hill from Turn 12 to the finish line one of the best endings in racing.

Last year the combined margins of victory for the two Superbike and Daytona SportBike races was less than half a second. And the narrowest margin of victory was, literally, the narrowest margin of victory; Hayes beat Hayden by .001 of a second in Saturday’s Superbike race. Hayden got his revenge on Sunday, by a comparatively yawning .178 of a second.The winner is certain to come from among the three stalwarts in the class, all of whom have a strong connection to the track. Hayes and Hayden both have Superbike race wins at Road America and Young, who won the 2008 Superstock race, is a cheesehead from Madison, Wisconsin. Following his third win of the year at Miller Motorsports Park, Young said the euphoria was “short-lived. I know we’re going back home for me. I could care less that we’ve got friends and family back there that I’m excited to go see and excited to go race in front of. Hopefully, Elkhart Lake doesn’t treat us with its usual rain and we get to see some of that Wisconsin sunshine, for sure.”MMP and Road America share at least one trait – unpredictable weather. At some point in the Road America weekend the track is likely to be wet. Fortunately, the track drains well and there’s plenty of run-off on one of the fastest tracks of the year and the only one with three sixth gear straightaways. Hayes was beaten by the top speed of the Suzukis at Daytona, but Yamaha’s Tom Halverson and the boys narrowed the gap between Daytona and MMP.”They kind of closed down the speed deficit to these guys a little bit and I’m looking forward to getting another shot at it in four days,” Hayes said.As is Latus Racing Motors Jason DiSalvo, who so badly missed his set-up on his Ducati at MMP that he took himself out of podium contention. The inclement weather – Sunday was mostly a washout – helped DiSalvo. The New Yorker rode his 2010 rain bike and and “it kept miles off of the EVO,” DiSalvo said of the 2011 Ducati 848EVO. “And we’re going to another horsepower track, so we wanted that bike as fresh as possible and that thing’ll be ready to rock come Road America.” He added with a smile, “Got a big hill to climb there. Think the Ducati’s going to get up it real well.”The downturn in the motorcycle industry cost Road America their longtime sponsor, a regional coalition of America Suzuki dealers. But Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain with nearly 34,000 restaurants worldwide, stepped in as the title sponsor, with strong support from the regional operators who are promoting the Subway Superbike Doubleheader and hopefully introducing it to a non-traditional crowd.The Subway Superbike Doubleheader kicks off the start of Road America’s summer race schedule. The weekend following the AMA races, the track will be invaded by the AHRMA Vintage Motorcycle Classic.


In addition to the almost constant on-track action, there are daily track rides, concession karting, shows by stunt rider Jason Britton, the WNCC9 Combat Championship, a drag racing demo, and a Supermoto exhibition featuring AMA Supermoto Champ Benny Carlson and flat track star JR Schnabel. And concession stands that have the best bratwursts in the country.



Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.