AMA Pro Road Racing returns to the Sonoma Valley, May 15-17, for the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts.

This marks the 16th consecutive year AMA Pro Road Racing has competed at Infineon Raceway, but the series comes to the Sonoma Valley under new ownership (Daytona Motorsports Group) and with a vision that will take the sport to new levels.

Below is an "AMA 101" on the three divisions you will see in Sonoma:

AMA American Superbike
Top Speed: Over 190 mph
Eligible bikes: Buell 1125R, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10, Yamaha R1, Suzuki GSX-R1000, Aprilia RSV1000R, Ducati 1098R
Race Lengths: 50-mile sprints
Riders to Watch: Mat Mladin, Ben Bostrom, Josh Hayes, Tommy Hayden, Aaron Yates, Geoff May, Larry Pegram and Neil Hodgson.

The Superbike class has been the centerpiece of major-league motorcycle racing in the United States for nearly 30 years and the tradition continues in 2009. American Superbike will co-headline AMA Pro Road Racing weekends with the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike. The big-bore bikes all produce at least 1000cc in engine displacement from a variety of twin and multi-cylinder powerplants. Four-cylinder, four-stroke machines have a minimum post-race weight of 375 pounds and are limited to 1000cc engines, such as the Suzuki GSX-R1000, Honda CBR1000RR and Yamaha R1. Two-cylinder, four-stroke machines must tip the scales at a minimum post-race weight of 390 pounds but can exceed 1000cc in displacement, such as the Buell 1125CR and Ducati 1098R.

AMA Pro Daytona SportBike
Top Speed: Over 175 mph
Eligible bikes: Yamaha YZF-R6, Suzuki GSX-R600, Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, Buell 1125R, Aprilia RSV1000R, Ducati 848 and Triumph Daytona 675
Race Lengths: 50-mile sprints, aside from the Daytona 200.
Riders to Watch: Jake Zemke, Miguel Duhamel, Chaz Davies, Steve Rapp, Jason DiSalvo, Roger Hayden, Jamie Hacking, Chris Peris, Michael Barnes, Martin Cardenas, Robertino Pietri and Josh Herrin.

A new class for 2009, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike is a battleground between quick-handling 600cc motorcycles and a variety of big-bore bikes from Buell, Aprilia and Ducati. Daytona SportBike incorporates the now inactive Formula Xtreme and older SuperSport series but opens the door in total to 10 eligible motorcycles, making the new class one of AMA Pro's most diverse divisions. Daytona SportBike and the AMA Pro American Superbike classes will share the feature card as co-headline attractions at nearly every AMA Pro Road Racing weekend. Like American Superbikes, Daytona SportBikes are race-tuned descendants of some of today's top high-performance production motorcycles.

AMA Pro SuperSport

Top Speed: Over 160 mph
Eligible bikes: Yamaha YZF-R6, Suzuki GSX-R600, Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and Buell 1125R
Race Lengths: 40-mile sprints

AMA Pro SuperSport is AMA Pro Road Racing's showcase of America's future motorcycle racing stars. The proving-ground series is reserved strictly for up-and-coming riders between the ages of 16 and 21 who compete on 600cc sport bikes that are only minimally modified from what you will find at your local Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda or other motorcycle dealership. SuperSport shouldn't be written off as a mere kiddie parade, however, as top speeds for competing bikes reach in excess of 160 mph and even the youngest riders probably bring at least 10 years of experience to the party.