You probably have heard me talk about this year’s course but there is the picture up above. I got confirmation a while ago from the TTXGP that they will be running the original long course (pictured above). The one thing that has not been confirmed to me is whether they will run 5 or 6 laps on the 3.51 mile track.
Now, there is some history and controversy connected to this course. The Daytona 200 (a 200 mile endurance race for the gas bikes), the first AMA road race of the year, has been around for a very long time. If I have listened carefully over the years it became an international event with famous European riders and teams making the trip and sometimes building special bikes just for the event. No where was there a place where you could run as wide open as you could here. This was mostly in the 70s and 80s as I understand it. As motorcycle racing grew over in Europe, and hence the schedule, it seems it got harder and less worth the effort for them to make the trip. Also the rule change from the Formula 1 to AMA Superbike rules probably had something to do with it as well. Speeds were going up. Way up. By the time I was watching Matt Mladin dominate AMA Superbike racing in the 2000s, the track was getting borderline dangerous. This culminated several year ago with Ben Spies’ rear tire exploding at over 180mph on the banking on his 210ish hp GSX-R 1000 race bike. The tires could not handle the power for that long at those high a speed and still be good enough for the infield. So the powers that be acted. The Daytona 200 was no longer a Superbike (read 1000cc) race, but a highly modified 600cc race. Also, the liter bikes use their own course, known by some as the “short course.” This new course was built for them and takes NASCAR turns 1 and 2 out and a chunk of the straight away as well, while adding a bit more infield. At the time there was a fair bit of talk from riders about the relevance of this track in modern day Superbike racing. Personally, I feel if they hadn’t upped the limit of the Superbike class from 750cc to 1000cc, we might not have this problem. But we all know I’m a fuddy-duddy.
So, long gone are the days of open prototype bikes using Daytona to see if they can haul ass around the track reliably, with riders seeing if they have the balls to ride crazy garage/factory built prototypes at those speeds while still being smart enough to execute a fuel strategy, use the draft to their advantage, and still bring the bike home at the end. Oh, wait . . .