Heritage Cup: Revving Up Superbike’s Roots

Vintage Superbike rider Dennis Parrish aboard his 1981 Honda CB900F.

Bring us your KZ’s and GPz’s, your GS’s and CB-F’s, your TZ’s, and even your Brittens yearning to be revved. Round one of the MotoAmerica Heritage Cup is coming to Road America for round two of the MotoAmerica season and, like a canoe-sized banana split with everything, the Heritage Cup is like the cherry on top of an already tasty and thoroughly decadent weekend. No wonder we’re calling it a MotoFest.

We talked with Russ Granger, who is a vintage racebike rider and aficionado, and is helping to organize the three-round Heritage Cup, which will be featured at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as at Road America.

Russ, can you give us the scoop on this three-round Heritage Cup?

Steve Delaney’s 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R.

First of all, thanks for giving me an opportunity to explain what we’re trying to do with the Heritage Cup. I personally came into this from being involved with vintage racing since I first started racing. Vintage has kind of been in my blood. So, when Niccole (Cox, MotoAmerica Director of Operations) called me up and said, “Hey, we could use a little help steering this thing and getting people involved,” it was a really great opportunity for me to jump in.

When MotoAmerica announced that they were going do a three-race Heritage Cup in 2020 that was going to piggyback with other events at Road America, Laguna Seca, and Indianapolis, we vintage racing guys all got really excited. They said “race.” So, we were ready for a race.

Rodney Menke’s 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Schwantz Replica.

Over here in California, we have an organization called the Classic Superbike Racing Association (CSRA). We’ve done events with MotoAmerica at Sonoma Raceway and other tracks where we’ve staged our own races with our own rules within the sanctions of another organization. So, we were all ready to go. We were talking amongst ourselves. We’re all signed up.

Then, the announcement came out that the Heritage Cup is going to be a three-event exhibition instead. Our friends with the CSRA contacted MotoAmerica and basically convinced them that we have a built-in set of people who will come race with us. Let us take over (WeatherTech Raceway) Laguna Seca as a race, and the other rounds–Indianapolis and Road America–can be exhibitions.”

Then, of course, COVID-19 caused some schedule changes and things like that.

Road America is coming up next weekend, which will host the very first of the three Heritage Cup events. What is that going to look like?

We are going to put cool bikes, vintage racebikes from pre-1985 that were the same or similar to what were raced during that period of the AMA Superbike Championship, and bikes from 1985 and up that have historical significance.

That enables us to contact people who have vintage race-ready bikes and invite them to come to Road America and show their machines at speed on the track for 15- to 20-minute sessions. So, it’s not a race, but it will be an unrestricted track for them to bring their really cool, old racebikes to the forefront, make some great noises, wave to the fans, and have fun.

Tell us about some of those really cool, old racebikes. What will we see?

Bob Robbins’ Britten S1000.

One of the most famous racebikes in the world will be there on track, and that’s Bob Robbins’ Britten V1000.

I actually wrote a story for the MotoAmerica Website last year about the Britten and when Michael Barnes, Andrew Stroud, and others raced one at Daytona. So that’s really cool that Bob will have his Britten at Road America. The fans will love that.

Yeah, we’re really excited. It kind of surprised even me. My father tells stories of going to Daytona the first year the Britten was there, and he describes the bike being out on the track and 50 men standing in a circle just dead silent, creeping inches at a time in a circle so that they could all get a full panoramic view. Nobody could get enough of it. What an extraordinary machine and an amazing opportunity to have it on track with us. It takes so much effort to ride and preserve the bike because there are little to no spare parts for it. So, we’re really honored that Bob Robbins will have it out there.

I’ll also have my personal race bike, which is a blue-and-white Suzuki GS1000 Wes Cooley replica. There will be some Kawasaki KZ1000’s and some GPz’s, too. A couple of Matchless G50’s. It’ll be an eclectic group of vintage racebikes, for sure.

We’ve been able to find a number of different vintage racebike owners who are just like, “Yeah! Let’s burn gas and make noise!” So, that’s what the Heritage Cup is going to be about. There’s a lot of very impolite bikes that are going to be on the track. It really harkens back to an era where you could tell the difference between two bikes on the track by the sounds they make, by the way they go into turns. Some of them were born with the DNA to go really fast down the straightaways. Some were born to turn.

So, this is less of a competition and more of a celebration, then?

Yes, but I do know that some of the riders are of the opinion that, “If I have a helmet on, I’m going to beat the other guys.” I’ve done lots of exhibition events with these guys. They have something to prove, and that’s why they do it.

Matthew Joy at speed on his 1980 Suzuki GS450S.

My number-one job is to make sure that when the 15- or 20-minute sessions are over, there are no bike parts, no fluids, and no riders left on the track. That’s all. Do whatever you want to do. Just don’t stuff anybody. Don’t run into another rider’s back wheel or anything like that, but you’re welcome to do anything you feel comfortable doing.

Are you still accepting entries?

Yes, we are. We’ve got 12 bikes now, but we want more. Big thanks to MotoAmerica registration for extending the deadline so that we can get some more riders and bikes. If you’ve got a vintage racebike that you either race, ride, or display, we hope to see you at Road America next weekend for round one of the Heritage Cup.

The Heritage Cup events at Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be “Exhibition Sessions.” The MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest of Monterey will include the Heritage Cup featuring CSRA, and this event will include vintage Superbike racing. To be eligible, your entry must conform to CSRA rules.

If you’re interested in participating in the 2020 MotoAmerica Heritage Cup, we invite you to officially apply. All registrations will be application requests to be included in the events and each submission will be evaluated. Fees will not be charged unless your entry is approved for participation. 

Heritage Cup rules and entry information can be found HERE

To enter, you will need to create a free Motorsport Reg profile HERE, and the rider will be required to have a current AMA membership.

Please contact registration@motoamerica.com with any questions.