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AMA: There's a Race Bike for Every Like

2 April 1998

LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California - The magic of the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca here April 17-19 is more than the race to be National Superbike Champion. Over a single weekend, there is competition for every major U.S. championship in motorcycle racing decided on a road course. Plus, there will be the debut of the 1998 Trans-Atlantic Match Race Series and spectacular sidecar racing:

MBNA NATIONAL SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP - This is the highest level motorcycle road racing series in North America. Superbikes are racing versions of production motorcycles such as the Ducati 916, Harley-Davidson VR1000, Honda RC-45, Kawasaki ZX-7, Suzuki TL-1000R, Suzuki GSX-R750 and Yamaha YZF750. Their frames can only lightly altered, however extensive suspension modifications are allowed. They must weight at least 355 lb. and have 750cc four-cylinder, 900cc three-cylinder or 1000cc twin-cylinder four stroke engines. Ducati and Harley superbike engines have gruff, throaty exhaust notes because they are twins.

ELF 250 GRAND PRIX CHAMPIONSHIP -250 GP racers are lightweight, pure-bred racing motorcycles with 250cc twin-cylinder engines.

PRO HONDA OILS 600 SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP - This is the most prestigious series for production sport bikes and top superbike riders compete also for this title. 600 SuperSport bikes are, with a few minor exceptions, identical to 600cc sport bikes ridden every day on the street such as the Honda CBR600F3, Kawasaki ZX-6 and Yamaha YZF600. Changes allowed include removing the speedometer and turn signals, non-stock carburetor jetting and an aftermarket exhaust system. Street tires are used instead of racing slicks.

TEAMLINE 750 SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP - This series is for sport bikes such as the Suzuki GSX-R and Yamaha YZF750 prepared to the same rules as 600 SuperSport racers. Like the 600s, the best performers on the track are also considered the best on the road.

PIRELLI FORMULA XTREME CHAMPIONSHIP - This is a duke out on truly extreme racing machines. Formula Xtreme bikes are highly modified versions of production sport bikes such as the Honda CBR900RR, Kawasaki ZX-9R and Suzuki GSX-R1100. Almost anything goes to make them fast, but they can't weigh less than 375 lb. Their unlimited engines are the most powerful in racing. Wheelspin at 170mph is the norm.

PROGRESS INSURANCE PRO THUNDER CHAMPIONSHIP - This is a series for motorcyling's big-bore bikes such as the Harley-Davidson powered Buell and Europe's best from Ducati, and Triumph. Any frame can be used. Unrestricted modifications are allowed to engines that range up to 1250cc. They aren't sport bikes, but they are strong, thundering racers.

VANSON LEATHERS TRANS-ATLANTIC MATCH RACES SERIES - The motorcycles raced in this exclusive series are historic 500cc Grand Prix bikes first raced as long four decades ago and Formula 750 race bikes campaigned in the original Trans-Atlantic Match Race series between 1971 and 1986. Among the famous by-gone marques represented are BSA, Matchless, Norton, Seeley and Weslake.

BARNETT SIDECAR CHALLENGE - Racing sidecars have evolved from sidecar motorcycles that first appeared in the 1920s because of loopholes in European tax laws and could be used by families or to carry groceries. Riders sit upright on traditional racing sidecars and the passenger, traditionally known as a "Monkey", works from an open platform to keep them from tumbling off the track. Modern racing sidecars are low slung machines with long sleek bodies that virtually enclose the driver, who lies flat on her or his stomach while driving, and the passenger. Sidecars are also referred to as "Rigs" and the modern ones are sometimes called "Worms." They usually have engines larger than 750cc.