Fred Merkel won the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Superbike National in 1986 to all but secure the 1986 Superbike crown. Photo by Tom Riles.

With MotoAmerica set to bring AMA Superbike racing back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 16-18, we’re taking a closer look at past Superbike races at the iconic racetrack in Lexington, Ohio.

Team Honda’s Fred Merkel left Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the points lead in both the AMA Superbike Championship and the Camel Pro Road Race Championship (which combined points from Formula One and Superbike races to crown a single AMA Road Race Champion) with his Superbike victory in the 1986 running of the Mid-Ohio National.

Merkel celebrates victory. Photo by Tom Riles

Tires played a big role in the 1986 race at Mid-Ohio with Merkel’s teammate Wayne Rainey crashing out of second place after leading early on. Rainey’s soft-compound bias-play Michelins started sliding around, forcing Rainey to slow while Merkel and his Dunlops charged. When Rainey, who led both championships heading into the Mid-Ohio round, tried to stay with Merkel on the 13th of 15 laps, he was highsided from his Honda and was fortunate to escape injury.

“Wayne (Rainey) rode a lot better than I did at a lot of racetracks,” Merkel told Cycle News after the race. “I think he’s a better rider than I am. This is the only race I won this year, and I won it fair and square. I caught him, passed him and then he fell down. So, I can have the credit for this one. I didn’t know he crashed or what, but he did and made my season a little easier. It’s never over until it’s over. It’s not over until next weekend.”

Second place went to Yoshimura Suzuki’s Kevin Schwantz with the Texan taking the spot when Jimmy Filice’s Yamaha suffered a mechanical issue. Schwantz wasn’t pleased with the performance of his bike, saying it was slower than the bike he raced at Laguna Seca

“Second place. I’m just as happy as I can be,” Schwantz said sarcastically at the end of the day.

Privateer Dan Chivington rode his Yamaha FZ750 to third place with John Ashmead and Rueben McMurter rounding out the top five.

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