Blog: Dear Dorna, how tennis can fix World Superbike

By Alvin O'Tosserin

Alvin raced a homebuilt ‘Duocoque’ chassis’d Yamaha XS-1 in Ireland in the early 70s. His career ended in 1973, following an incident, involving a ‘wedgie’ and a Norton monocoque.

Banished to America, Alvin replaced the telescopic forks on his race bike with upside-down girder spoons. Sadly, the rabies shots after being bitten by a racoon affected his balance and he could never ride again.


Dear, Dorna,


Thank you for making the first round of World Superbikes interesting with pit stops in race two. Will this be a regular feature and will it always be tyre changes or is the idea to test the teams in different ways?

Me and the lads at the Camchain-and Crayfish (Taffulia’s most antipodean-TV-friendly hostelry) were discussing this and we came up with some more ideas.

World Supers has to be relevant to road riders. When Steve McLaughlin first talked me through his AMA formula in the mid-1970s, I remember stressing the importance of top-flight racing on the road bikes that sell in the biggest numbers.

1. So our first idea was something to replace World Supersport because, from what we can tell, there are virtually no bikes left on sale that are eligible, absolutely no spectators who are interested and no one who understands the rules anymore.

Our suggestion would be World Hipster Bobber Trackers or WHISTERBOBs for short. In this class, the bikes will be based on heavyweight twin-cylinder commuters, cruisers and tourers from the 70s and 80s that everyone’s forgotten. The rules will allow them to be cut down, bobbed and fitted with small 1960s-style race seats, bandages round the exhaust, a wire grill on the headlight and running big-block dirt-style tyres. Points are deducted for anyone running a mudguard, cast wheels or a race number without some obscure 1960s heritage. Instead of grid girls each team will run a works gentleman’s coiffure assistant and grid positions will be worked out on pointiness of moustache and smoothness of facial hair along with the team’s local knowledge of Spalding, Lincolnshire in the UK - where the mythical Lord of the of the WHISTERBOBs – known only to his followers as ‘Grainy Man’ is rumoured to reside.

The race will start when the psychobilly surf band hits the first chord and finishes when the rhythm guitarist leaves to start a micro-brewery and Quinoa farm in Nebraska.

Obviously there are some details still to be worked out here, like whether we’ll still think this is a good idea when Brian, who thought of it, sobers up and whether we need a control beard-oil or not, but essentially I think it’s just about there.


What a full factory spec racer in WHISTERBOBs might look like, maybe...


2. To perk up the Superstock class, and taking the idea from your pit stops this weekend was that the second half of each race had to be run with a pillion. Out here in the Ring of Kilarney we see more and more riders enjoying their road bikes with a passenger and so, adding a pillion would bring a relevance to Superstock and a link to road riders that’s been missing for the last few years. It would also perhaps bring in some different machinery to the paddock and encourage the manufacturers to develop their sports touring bikes to be a little more interesting than at present.

It might also allow some of the super adventure bikes to become more competitive, especially if we allow Father O’Donohue’s idea that each rider is allowed to cut across the grass in the middle of the circuit once per race. While intercoms and stick-on helmet ears will be in the rules, sadly panniers will not be allowed as we feel that will make overtaking more difficult.



3. For the main event, The Superbikes we have been rather radical, but bear with us because a) we’d all had quite a lot of PC Davison’s home brew by this point, and b) I have my suspicions that Michael and Brian might have been on the catnip.

Because WSB is only exciting for the first two laps, instead of having two races of twenty-four laps each, why not have twenty four races of two laps each? So, rather than being like football, with each round being two times 45 minutes, it’s closer to tennis and the races could be grouped into sets, where a set was six races and the first person to win three sets wins the meeting.

There are no warm-up laps. Just straight into the race. At the finish, the grid reforms immediately in reverse order and off they go again. There’s a break after ten races (or at the beginning of a new set) to refuel and following the break the races are run in the reverse direction around the track.

At this point, we lost Father O’Donohue whose experiment of drinking only Australian lager instead of his usual sherry and sambuca chasers hadn’t gone well.

4. And, each round is a bespoke event, just like tennis, with a big prize at the end instead of working their way around the globe to crown a world champion long after everyone’s given up caring. This would allow a continuous year-long spectacle and world rankings rather than a champion so countries, other than Ulster might get a reason to cheer when their boy gets to fifth in the rankings.

And there could be certain events in different formats – again a bit like tennis. So, the WSB equivalent of a grass court might be a roads circuit like the NW200 or the TT. Because it’s not a world championship, any rider not wanting to do the roads wouldn’t have to compete or maybe a team could bring in a specialist or two for those rounds.

It might take a while for people to get used to the idea, but we like it. And by the time some bloke we’d stopped caring about won the second race in Australia last Sunday night, all eight of us still standing were convinced it’s a great idea. And, the biggest benefit is that it’s still a lot less confusing or stupid than the current WSB rules by some measure.

No need to thank us,

Alvin O’Tosserin

Taffulia, Ireland




Who is Alvin O’Tosserin?

A former road racer living in the hamlet of Taffulia, near Kilarney. Alvin came to prominence in the early 70s racing a homebuilt ‘Duocoque’ chassis (a forerunner of Yamaha’s Delatabox twin spar frame) housing a tuned Yamaha XS-1 engine on the Irish road racing circuit. His career sadly ended in 1973, following an unsightly incident, after seeing Peter Williams’ innovative monocoque in the pits at Mallory Park. O’Tosserin was banned from all mainland circuits, but not before introducing UK riders to the words ‘wedgie’ and ‘rebound damping’.

Alvin went to America where he continued to innovate – replacing the telescopic forks on his race bike with upside-down girder spoons. The resulting incident at Daytona sadly saw him drummed out of US racing too. To add insult to injury Alvin was bitten by a racoon and the resulting rabies shots permanently affected his sense of balance, meaning he could never ride a motorcycle again.

Thankfully, his foresight in patenting the idea of a re-usable firework brought Alvin a steady income when the idea was secretly bought out by the US military. This trust fund allows him to follow the Moto GP and WSB paddocks around the world. BikeSocial is honoured to have him writing for us.


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