The Homecoming
by staff
Friday, May 11, 2012

Early World Supebike--where Raymond Roche won the title, Merkel rode a purple RC30 and Big Rob Mac looked like he could lift a OW01 by himself.
image by Mad Dog Vachon

World Superbike is a series with many fathers but an undisputed hometown.

WSBK recently celebrated its silver anniversary at Monza with racing celebs like Carl Fogarty, Aaron Slight, Doug Polen and Troy Bayliss on hand to help celebrate 25 seasons of life and continued success.

No one needs an excuse to go to Monza, and the event was well-attended even though the racing was mired in wet weather and tire drama.

Make no mistake, though, the real birthplace for WSBK is Donington Park, scene of this weekend's WSBK round. The 1988 season is slowly drifting into obscure territory, all of the riders in the championship then are retired now, their bikes are museum pieces. The fact that Fred Merkel won the first championship remains common knowledge but some fans are surprised to learn that Yamaha-mounted Mick Doohan won several rounds of the championship in 1988, or that former 500 title winner Marco Luchinelli won multiple races that season, but was in prison two years later.

Speaking with a man who stood and watched that first WSBK race with his own eyes at Donington in 1988 we asked, what struck you about it, what do you remember first when you think of that weekend?

"That the Bimotas would burst into flames without even being crashed first," he said. "I'd never seen anything like that before in my life."


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