Yes, this originated with the Superbikers ("Supermotard" is simply French for "Superbiker"). When that event died out here, it got picked up in Europe, especially France, where it became one of more popular racing forms. In recent years, it has reappeared here and has been growing in popularity. The AMA is a bit late to the game, but they now are setting up a national series beginning this summer.
Bob, you're right about the origin of Supermotard, however I personally started enjoying that type of riding since 1967 when I bought a BSA 441 Victor. In my estimation that particular bike (the rare times that it actually ran) was the ancestor of what now is refered to as the Supermotard motorcycle. VWW
Racing at least something like that goes back a very long way. The Elsinore Gran Prix ran a longer course, but mixed pavement and various kinds of dirt. (See "On Any Sunday") And before that, there was the Catalina Gran Prix. I suppose you could even say that the original Daytona race, which was half on beach sand and half on road, was kind of an ancestor.
I can't help but think the AMA's timing is a little unfortunate: Now that we are getting "freedom fries" down at MacDonalds and drinking California wine exclusively, is it right to be promoting a type of racing developed and popularized in France? It even has a French name.
Like someone above already pointed out, 'supermotard' is just French for 'superbiker'. Further, it would appear that they picked it up from us via the Superbikers series in the early 80's. It may have grown and evolved over there, but it started here according to all history on the subject that I've read (granted that history may have been written here too, but I digress...)
I defer to Don Canet on the subject... pretty sure he credits the Yanks.
Funny. I never thought of it back then as some sort of racing. I just thought it as "riding around on a Yamaha 80 Trailmaster as fast as I could without around the streets of Palos Verdes peninsula with knobby tires."
It is kinda ironic, that in the past, everyone rode, and raced on a combination of dirt and pavement. Same with auto racing -- the great old road races (eg Targa Floria, Mille Migla, PanMexican Roadrace etc) were run on both dirt and asphalt.
Over time, the sports became more and more specialized, but now we see somewhat of a reaction to that specialization. The fastest growing area of 4-wheel racing is probably WRC and similar national series, where rally cars race on a combination of dirt and pavement, and on 2 wheels, we have Supermotard making a comeback, along with, at least at the club level, competitive rally events for GS type bikes.
The specific bike platform used in Supermotard (Dirt bike with street wheels/tires and big front brake) is also not new at all. I know that in Colorado at least by the mid-70s, one of the most popular classes in the MRA (the local club racing organization) was for dirt bikes converted to roadracers. These bikes (either 2 or 4 stroke) frequently took the open class win.
Merlin Plumlee, who was Nicky Hayden's, and now is BBoz's, crew cheif was one of the pioneers in developing the XT500 as the dominating platform in late 70s MRA racing. They still run this class (called the "Colorado Class" in the MRA, although they have expanded the eligible bikes somewhat).
In the broader marketplace, I think the pendulum may be swinging back from the level of specialization of recent years, with bikes that are suitable for a wider range of riding situations.
It always seem to follow this cycle. First a bunch of people with similar (and affordable) bikes get together and race for fun. It becomes more popular so eventually races are sanctioned. If the popularity grows eventually the manufacturers get involved. Manufacturer involvement results in escalating costs of competition effectively driving the people who began the whole thing out of competition. People then find some other affordable form of racing.
I suppose we should blow up the Statue of Liberty too? After all, it is from France. As a free country, France has every right to disagree with any U.S. policy or action. The might be mistaken in this instance, but they have the right to be wrong.
Just a nit or two - it's Targa Florio, Mille Miglia, (thousand mile), and the current issue of Road & Track has an article about the PanAmerican road race which states that Mexico started it to draw attention to the fact that the recently completed PanAmerican highway was paved from Guatemala to the US border. I'm not trying to be critical; just pointing out a couple of corrections. Your post reminded me that I actually owned a "supermotard" bike in '71 - I added a tricycle horn and a tail light from a Honda 90 to my Rickman Weslake (Rickman Metisse frame and bodywork, 500cc Weslake-modified BSA Victor thumper motor) so that I could ride it on the street to get to the dirt roads in the mountains above Santa Barbara, where I was going to school. The knobby tires weren't the greatest on pavement, but if was a terrific fire road blaster. And it was legally licensed in California - hard to believe these days.
g_k, I was unaware that the Victor was capable of being enlarged to 500cc. It was originally the Star 250 trials, then the 350 enduro. I was under the impression that 441cc was the maximum displacement for that particular BSA model. I do remember the Rickman Metesse framed bikes of that era as the ultimate in trick customs however. VWW
Here, I borrowed this off of a cruiser forum on Delphi. I do agree with SeanAlexander that they have the right to disagree with our policies. However, it would be nice if they showed us some facking gratitude once in a while for all the really nice things we've done for them in the past.
Washington (AP)-Today it was reported that a severe earthquakes have occurred in 10 different locations in France. The severity was measured in excess of 10 on the Richter Scale. The cause was the 56,681 dead American soldiers buried in French soil rolling over in their graves. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission there are 26,255 Yankee dead from World War I buried in 4 cemeteries in France. There are 30,426 American dead from World War II buried in 6 cemeteries in France.