The Superbike World Championship as we know it today started in the United States in the early 1970s. The first “Superbike Production” race, as it was called back then, was held in 1973 as a side event for the races held at Laguna Seca in California. The new category gained national recognition in 1976.
Very little was known about these races at that time outside the circle of insiders and die-hard fans. The competitors were the maxis of the day, like the Honda CB750F and VF750F, the Suzuki GS1000 and the Kawasaki KZ1000. The bikes were modified to deliver 140 hp but the set-up was clearly standard production. They ran without fairings and with high handlebars and they were spectacularly stylish.
Most of the riders had a dirt track background and were accustomed to competing on dirt ovals. The riding position was decidedly different from that customary in Europe but it was evidently effective, as riders of the calibre of Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rayney would demonstrate a few years later when the American Superbike Production races joined the world circuit.