Superbike racing is a sport that involves motorcycle racing. Though not as popular as NASCAR, which involves car racing, its popularity is growing and events such as the Superbike World Championship are broadcast on ESPN. Superbike racers do not make as much as other professional athletes but their pay from sponsors and major brands that purchase teams can at least reach six-figure salaries.
Superbike racing is a spectator sport that draws thousands of attendees. Accordingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for athletes in spectator sports at $104,470 annually as of 2010. An August 2010 for Visor Down states that superbike racers' wages are down largely due to the economic recession. Still, the article adds that only a very few are considered wealthy from their earnings in the sport, yet salaries are in agreement with the bureau's figure.
A Closer Look
The salaries for a superbike racer can range from six-figure salaries to millions. While a rookie in 2009 such as Regis Laconi may earn roughly $105,000, veteran Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi earn $2 million per season according to a January 2009 article for Asphalt&Rubber.com. Another racer, Anthony West, earned $800,000 in 2008, according to the article.
The top racers are privileged to work in the sports top competitions such as the Superbike World Championshio and MotoGP, where monies from sponsors and earnings from winnings are larger. It costs teams several million dollars to compete in these competitions and may cost them even more to not compete. In the event a contract is broken it would would have to reimburse sponsors and lose the several million dollars spent to develop a bike. (Kawasaki spent $5 million to develop the 2009 ZX-RR). A top-flight team such as Kawasaki may spend as much as $46 million for a season of racing. This includes paying its two riders, Marco Melandri and John Hopkins $8 million and $4 million respectively. Both also have pit members, which include engineers and technical support crew, that are partially paid by the $9 million sponsorship from Monster Energy.
An August 2010 article for "Racer" reported that the Ducati team had cut its Superbike World Championshio squad. Thus, racers for the squad would not be paid for their work in one of the sport's biggest events. The article adds that this was the result of the Ducati team's effort to recruit Valentino Rossi, one of the most popular superbike racers in the world.