Tuesday, September 07, 2004
As the 2004 AMA Superbike season winds down, I can't help but wonder what might've been
Well, it's almost over -- and thank God for that. The upcoming double-header weekend at VIR will put a cap on what has been, for my money, the least memorable AMA Superbike season of the past ten years.
Sure, there were a few exciting moments -- the rise of Jake Zemke comes to mind. But in a series where factory rider presence is anemic at best, even J.Z. himself must realize that he had it comparatively easier in 2004 than many rookies of years past. Let's face it, without the participation of Kawasaki and Yamaha, it just isn't AMA Superbike.
After having walked away with yet another double-win last weekend in Georgia, Mat Mladin will probably secure a record 5th championship in Virginia. Mladin has been an absolute machine in 2004 (as usual), and with a 42-point lead going into the final round, everyone else might as well stay home. It would take either a cataclysm on Mladin's part or a miracle on Zemke's for any other outcome to be realized. I guess all of this should be interesting in its own way, but somehow it just isn't. No disrespect intended to these great racers, but excuse me while I yawn.
In an era when AMA Superbike coverage and popularity is at an all-time high, I can't help but wonder what might've been in 2004. Had all the major manufacturers participated (and had Ducati been a factor), AMA Superbike 2004 might've had the makings of a truly exciting, highly-competitive season. Instead, it seems that another steamrolling by Mladin -- combined with the limited factory participation -- will lead history to judge Superstock as having been the better series of 2004. That's a bit sad.