Jim & Shirley could hardly have been more supportive of Kevin in his racing career. Certainly supportive is the correct word because they have never pushed him in any way. They have been able to take a lot of the pressure off him during his Grand Prix career, Jim acts as his manager and Shirley coordinates everything from the fan club to the travel as well as providing an enviable home style environment in the motorhome.
It is just as well that they enjoy it, each getting different things out of the experience. "I enjoy his racing," says Jim and for Shirley, "The travelling around is very enjoyable and I also enjoy the racing and all the things that go along with it; the excitement, the fans and the friends we have made all over the world. It's hard for me to realise that people will go to great lengths just to get a glimpse of Kevin or to get his autograph, To me he's still just Kevin."
Both agree that the most work is done in the off season, at home in Texas, as Shirley explains. "All the paperwork, the phone calls, the organising. That side of it can be a lot of stress in the off season. All the hard work for us is done by the time we get to Europe. We just have to get from race to race, that's it. There is a lot less work to do during the season. In the off season its constant, people wanting Kevin to do things, organising flights trying to juggle Kevin's time between testing and all the other things people want him to do and its a lot less structured, plus trying to see that he has some time off to relax. We also help with the fan club in the off season, but Staci and D'Ette do all the work with the fan club during the season."
"We're always ready for the racing season to start because that's the easy and most enjoyable part for us. That's when Kevin's job really starts," says Shirley.
Jim looks after the contracts and all the negotiations. Kevin is consulted through the negotiations but the day to day work is done by Jim so that Kevin can get a break between testing trying to make something of the off season. "Well it's getting to where his job doesn't stop." says Jim. "There used to be a very definite off season. Now you have got to look long and hard to see it. He just has three or four weeks to go hunting and things like that."
Once the season starts and Family Schwantz is on the road Jim and Shirley are still very much involved. By operating the radar gun and doing section times they make a valuable contribution while staying clear of what is going on in the pits at a time when personal relationships can be counter productive. "There's really no one else to do it," adds Shirley. "We have a small team compared to Honda and Yamaha."
The work perfectly suits their logical, well ordered and conscientious nature and Jim says he enjoys it. "I enjoy the radar. I wouldn't mind being involved with the team even a little bit more but I think that Shirley and I are most beneficial out there doing comparisons, be it split times, radar speeds or whatever, with other riders. That might be the most helpful thing for us to do and the thing that no one else wants to do."
"I wish I had a little more ability in seeing what the bike's doing," says Jim. "seeing what other people's bikes are doing and being able to relate it to what tbe team needs to do. I definitely sometimes think that one thing is wrong or another and I have subtly mentioned it on occasion but that is about all."
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