It's a big year for anniversaries at DIS. 30 years ago, Kenny Roberts won his first Daytona 200 for Yamaha. Roberts later won two more Daytona 200s and three World Championships.
20 years ago, Kevin Schwantz won the Daytona 200 and began a whirlwind period in his brilliant career. Kevin also won his first Grand Prix (Japan) just a short time later.
10 years ago, Scott Russell won his fifth Daytona 200. Russell won the second of two in a row for Yamaha -- this one on Michelin tires. The win cemented his place as "Mr. Daytona".
This year, the Daytona 200 will once again see the Formula Xtreme class contest the event and once again many of the best riders will not participate. As exciting as the race might turn out to be, it remains the race has not only lost the international contingent that once flocked to Florida, but even the very top echelon of racers in the paddock won't enter the 200. The two riders universally accepted as the best in the series and the men who have won eight of the last nine AMA Superbike titles (Mat Mladin and Ben Spies) will probably be long gone when the checkered flag drops on the 67th Daytona 200. For sure they won't be racing, nor will many of the other factory Superbike pilots.
Safety was the reason DIS pushed the 200 away from the Superbike class and also the reason for the extensive (and expensive) modifications to the circuit. The good news is the tire situation seems much more under control these days than just a few years ago when Ben Spies and Jason Disalvo experienced tire failures on the banking.
The stars not participating in the great race hasn't escaped the new owners of the series. When asked about Superbike's future in the Daytona 200 at the Friday news conference, Roger Edmonson said that Superbikes would be the class racing the 200 next year. That's because, he joked, changing it for tomorrow was too soon.