If you've every dreamed about racing motorcycles, but thought that you couldn't because your motorcycle was too old, or that it would be too expensive, or that you weren't fast enough—well, welcome to a whole new world my friend. From dirt track ovals to the country's premier road racing tracks, the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) stages racing events for motorcycles of nearly every type and era.
Don't let the word "historic" fool you into thinking that AHRMA races are only for the exotic racing machines of yesteryear—they have racing classes and categories that make room for bikes of every stripe. Road Racing classes like "Vintage Superbike" and next "Gen Superbike" are about recreating the look and feel of U.S. Superbike racing from the 80's and early 90's, with rules that emphasize stock machines. You probably never imagined you could race that 1992 GSX-R750 sitting in your garage. However, with some simple and safety minded modifications, you can race it at an AHRMA road racing event.
There's even a class a called the "Thruxton Transatlantic Challenge," which is open to only slightly modified Triumph Thruxton's and Harley Davidson Sportsters. Events called "Sound of Singles," "Battle of the Twins," and "Sound of Thunder," make for interesting mixes of motorcycles you won't see racing in anywhere else.
There are too many different classes and eligible motorcycles to list, but the scope of machines you'll see racing at an AHRMA road racing event is mind boggling. From pre-1940's hand shifters, sidecar's modern Supermoto motorcycles, and everything in between, AHRMA stages its road races in a cup series with events across the country throughout the year. Racers participating in multiple events have the opportunity to race on some of the most incredible race courses in North America, Sonoma Raceway (formerly Sears Point), Road America, and the Daytona International Speedway, just to name a few.
A high point of the AHRMA Roadracing calendar takes place at the Barber Motorsports park in Leeds, Alabama during the annual "Barber Vintage Festival." On top of exciting racing, the festival hosts a motorcycle swap meet that is like no other. From parts by the pound to incredible and hard to find machines, there are vendors for every kind of two wheeled motorcycling. The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum located at the track is worth the visit on it's own.
The Atmosphere at an AHRMA road racing event is open and inviting. While competition on the track is can be fierce, most of the racers participate just for fun. In the paddock, people are easy to talk to, and are eager to chat about racing and their motorcycles. Racers are quick to help each other with mechanical issues, loan tools, and offer advice. At many of the races, racers camp right at the track and the evenings take on a party atmosphere.
For beginning racers, AHRMA offers a racing school at a number of their events. Safety, track etiquette, and rules are taught and aspiring racers get track time to learn the ropes and be evaluated. Passing the class means you get to race that very weekend.
While motorcycle racing isn't "cheap" by any measure, the variety of race classes and wide range of affordable motorcycles you can race at AHRMA events potentially lowers the the barrier for entry. The costs of transporting you and your race bike to events across the United States—equipment, parts, fuel and maintenance—can add up, but getting a motorcycle race-ready might be measured in the hundreds to thousands of dollars as opposed to other types of motorcycle racing, where costs could be in the tens of thousands.
If road racing isn't your thing, AHRMA also holds a load of dirt specific events that provide even more affordable motorcycle possibilities—Vintage Motorcross to Cross Country, Observed Trials, and Dirt Track oval racing. The American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, truly does offer motorcycle racing for everybody.
For more information about AHRMA including race categories, eligibility, and the national schedule, please go to http://www.ahrma.org/.
Also check back here at Rideapart.com for my race reports as a rookie AHRMA Road racer aboard my 1980 Yamaha SR500.