If you're of the opinion that Superbike racing in America is dying under the management of the Daytona Motorsport Group, last weekend's release of the 2010 purse information for the Superbike class probably did little to convince you that the class is not strapped to a bed with a pillow over its face.
Purse payouts for the Superbike class are dramatically reduced for 2010. According to DMG documents, in the Superbike class The riders earning the three (3) highest point totals on an event weekend will be paid podium bonuses as follows: 1st - $3,500.00, 2nd - $2,000.00, and 3rd - $1,000.00.
Astoundingly, DMG documents suggest that there will be no purse paid for riders or teams finishing past third place in Superbike points on each race weekend.
Daytona Sport Bike, mind you, will also have a reduced purse but still pays a purse to twentieth place. DMG document: The riders earning the twenty (20) highest point totals on an event weekend will be paid purse awards as follows: 1st - $5,000.00, 2nd - $3,000.00, 3rd - $2,000.00, 4th through 10th - $1,500.00 each, and 11th through 20th $1,000.00 each.
Amazingly, finishing third in Superbike points on any given DMG weekend pays as well as twentieth place in DMG's namesake class, Daytona Sport Bike.
At the risk of being obvious, in the past, a Superbike purse paying well down the finishing order was a way for a privateer or support team to help defray expenses, to pay their tire, fuel or hotel bills for the race weekend.
How exactly will smaller teams be able to race the Superbike class? Some of them say that they won't.
DMG came into this fray in a swashbuckling manner. Roger Edmondson said in the March 2008 press conference announcing that DMG was buying AMA Pro Racing "I know this sounds cocky, but forgive me - we know it will be successful. Once the France family decides to move forward on a project, it does not fail." (Link to full transcript)
Their December 2008 press release stated that for the two premier classes, Superbike and Daytona Sport Bike, Each of the premier divisions will offer $125,000 purses at each event with $15,000 going to the top points winner in each class. Second through 20th place finishing positions will earn $5,000 while the remaining finishers through 25th position will be paid $3,000.
Given the resources of the Daytona International Speedway organization and the France family, sponsorship to support those numbers was at that time almost an after-thought.
Simply put, DMG could not deliver on their grandiose purse statements and had to issue a humbling press release before the 2009 Daytona event spelling out that previously released purse amounts were no longer possible.
Sadly, the reality is that Superbike purse payments in 2010 will be at their lowest point in modern AMA Superbike racing history. Not only are they lower than purses offered a just a few years ago, they are less than levels the series paid out in 1997.
Also a reality is that these relatively minuscule purse levels, the Superbike grid is in real danger of ending at the second row. Making its eventual demise easier to justify?