With AMA Pro Road Racing coming back to Road Atlanta in a few weeks for the first of the three Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals, I’ve been reminiscing about past events I’ve attended at the famed North Georgia road course.
1997 was the third year of AMA racing being absent from Road Atlanta (they returned in ’98 with the inaugural Big Kahuna weekend) so the big race for the bikes there that year was the North American Sport Bike Series Dixie Cycle Fest. The series consisted of: Formula USA which was (except for a 350 lbs minimum weight limit) pretty much an unlimited anything goes class. The sheer brute power of some of these bikes was incredible. The Sport Bike class was made up of 600cc inline fours plus twins and triples limited to a maximum of 102hp. Other classes competing were the Harley-Davidson Twin Sports, the Buell Lightning Series and the HRC American GP for 125cc machines.
I witnessed some great racing that weekend and saw some great riders of the day (David Sadowski, Fritz Kling, Tray Batey, Doug Polen, Chuck Graves & Tripp Nobles) along with some rising stars of the future (Josh Hayes, Eric Bostrom & Jake Zemke). You can check out the race results and points standings from this event where you will recognize the names of many that are still involved in the sport today by following this link: http://www.ccsracing.us/x/results/1997/97atlanta.html
One more note of interest: By the time the AMA series returned the following year the infamous section of the track known as ‘Gravity Cavity’ had been replaced with the now current turns 10A & 10B. Anybody who ever experienced Gravity Cavity as a racer or even watched races from that part of the track no doubt remembers the sheer speed the bikes carried down through that section before roaring up out of it and cresting the hill as they went under the cross-over bridge at turn eleven. I’m sure footage of it can be found on youtube but it won’t really do it justice as opposed to having experienced it in person.