Racer Pete Hokenstad aboard his No. 99 Kawasaki.
The bikes that Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Fred Merkel, Wes Cooley and Freddie Spencer rode in the glory days of Superbike racing are out racing again. “A lot of us started racing in the ’80s when these bikes were originally on the track,” explains Kevin McKee, a spokesperson for the Classic Superbike Racing Association. “Our heroes raced these motorcycles. We are big fans of the bikes and riders of the classic Superbike era.”
The first AMA Superbikes — heavyweight 4-stroke motorcycles that were highly modified versions of bikes sold to ride on the street — went on the grid in 1976, with Reg Pridmore and his BMW taking home the No. 1 plate that year. For the first few years, the rules allowed 1,000cc 4-cylinder machines, but in 1983, the AMA limited 4-cylinder machines to 750cc. Other changes were made over the years, most notably green-lighting liquid-cooled engines. Eventually the AMA handed over racing management to a promoter, who mishandled the races. In 2015, Wayne Rainey’s organization, KRAVE, took over and has been working hard to restore the popularity of Superbike racing.
A lot of people miss the boom and howl of big 4-stroke air-cooled engines, and some folks in California decided to put the bikes from the first, glamorous years of Superbike racing back on the track. They started racing in the American Federation of Motorcyclists (the West Coast amateur racing association) vintage class.
Racer Terry Cheney, No. 132, racing his Honda at Sears Point.
“The CSRA formed in the spring of 2018, when the AFM approached some of us,” Kevin continues. “MotoAmerica wanted to put on a race for vintage bikes at the Sears Point [Sonoma Raceway] venue and had reached out to the AFM to locate an appropriate vintage group. We decided to form CSRA, and put together a few rules that were based on the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) Superbike Heavyweight class, with some modifications to fit our vision. CSRA’s first-ever race was as a support class for MotoAmerica in August 2018.” To allow the big-bore Fours on the track, the Classic Superbike Racing Association cutoff point is 1982.
CSRA presently has a membership of more than 200, with about 40 currently active racers. Some of the bikes are former AMA National Superbike machines, others are clones, and some are stock bikes rebuilt to racing specification. They all go fast and sound great. Most racers run Hondas, Kawasakis and Suzukis, but there are two Moto Guzzis (paying homage to Dr. John and his 1987 Moto Guzzi racing effort), a BMW and a Ducati in the association. Some of the original Superbike riders are involved with the group, and privateer legend Dale Quarterly won the first event at Sonoma on his Kawasaki.
CSRA members participate throughout the year in many AHRMA and AFM races and vintage bike display events. “We just love racing and displaying our old Superbikes,” Kevin McKee says. “We want to promote vintage Superbikes, the people who raced them back in the day and vintage Superbike racing. We’d love to see a grid of 50 Superbikes in the near future.” For more information visit csra.us or join the association on Facebook. — Margie Siegal