The Superbikers 1986
Before there was Supermoto, there was a made for TV concept called “The Superbikers”.
The Superbikers was devised by US broadcaster ABC’s Wide World of Sports program. The idea was for a contest between the world’s best motorcycle racers from various disciplines including Road Racing, Motocross and Dirt/Flat Track.
The event first ran in 1979 and by 1986 the best riders in the world were all hoping for an invitation to the big event.
On top of the huge TV audience and pay cheque for the riders there were the all important bragging rights. As the winner could justifiably consider himself the most versatile motorcycle racer in the world.
For 1986 the event included some big names. Star billing was Road Racer Eddie Lawson, 1984’s winner (and the man who won the first Superbikers in 1979) Kent Howerton; double-AMA motocross champ (and one of my all time favoutite sportmen) Jeff Ward; AMA Grand National Champion Bubba Shobert; two-time GN Champ Ricky Graham; former world motocross champion Eric Goebers; AMA Rookie of the Year Chris Carr; former AMA Superbike Champion Wayne Rainey; and former GN Champ Steve Eklund, to name a few. Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts had to cancel—Spencer due to injury, and Roberts due to prior commitments.
Part of the show’s success is its format, which uses a somewhat “soft” approach to racing, using the actual race as a hook, but spending a good deal of air time on short “behind the scenes” or human-interest features.
For instance, ABC went to Texas, to interview Bubba Shobert before the event. Then the video team visited Jeff Ward as he bicycled across the rolling hills in his hometown, Mission Viejo, California. Finally, Posey and crew checked in at Yamaha headquarters in California, to film the actual building of Lawson’s winning bike.
I sure would like to see some of the current crop of Moto GP riders like Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner up against Reed, Stewart and Caroli from the motocross world and see how they stack up against the relative unkowns of American Dirt track and Supermoto scene.