people power

Wayne Rainey and Kevin only progressed to friendship comparatively recently. When they first set eyes on each other there was no way either could have seen the person, myopic youth saw only the racer.

"The first time I ever saw Kevin ride was at Seattle in 1985, I was riding for Bob MacLean at the time, I was riding the 250 and I'm not sure if we even had our 500s at that race," recalls Wayne but while his memory as to what he was riding is unclear his first vision of Kevin is ingrained in slow motion on his brain. "Kevin was in the Superbike race riding for Yoshimura and I was out there watching. I'd never even heard of him before. He came through this one turn off the back straight and he was so crossed up that 99% of riders would have crashed. I remember thinking that there was no one else in America capable of doing that at that time. I had been doing that sort of thing a few years before but I hadn't seen anyone ride like that for quite a while."

"He was pretty wild and so fast through there. I knew then that if he was able to do that and it looked as though he was still kind of in control, then he had the talent to be real good."

"The thing was that when we started racing together on Superbikes I had experience over him. I had been doing the kind of wild things that he was doing but a few years before. I seemed to have the experience and I was better prepared, nothing was more important to me than winning. We were both having a good time out there and being reasonably well paid for it but it just seemed like winning was more important to me."

"Racing was easy for him and I to do because we were both good at it. I have always thought that as far as the talent stakes go we were pretty even, we both had the ability to beat each other on any given day. At that time I seemed to be mentally better prepared than he was. All I thought about was going faster, from the moment I got up in the morning, I was thinking about riding faster or making the bike better. It didn't seem quite so important to him. In '87 he won five races and I won three but I won the championship. He was happy that he won five races. I didn't like the fact that he had won those five races but I had won the championship and that is what people remember."


Close, Brands Hatch 1987 and Kevin's squeezes inside to get his own back going into Clearways for what he saw as excessive zeal on Wayne's part At Paddock bend.

"Its true that we did have some animosity going but that is kind of inevitable when you are racing together so hard like that. Bubba and I were the best of friends we were real close and that worked just fine while he was riding dirt track and I was road racing. Then he started road racing and we were both riding for Honda. I was winning but he was pushing every weekend and that stretched our friendship, it stretched it real thin that year, it's kind of inevitable."

"When we went to the match races Schwantz and I started banging into each other pretty hard. I remember then thinking that if this guy wants to win that bad then he's going to be tough to deal with. I know how much I wanted to win and it looked as though he was getting to the point of wanting to win just as much."

"If we'd have been smart about it we could have ended up with a whole lot more money in our pockets. A couple of the guys in the team said, 'well why don't you and Schwantz get together and agree who is going to win all these races and then pick up the bonus and split it with the team. Well I wasn't about to go over there and ask him that and he never came to me so we just raced. If I remember he won the first race and I took the second so that pretty much put an end to it."

"That kind of carried over when we went Grand Prix racing. When we started in the World Championship we weren't in the lime light, there was Lawson and Gardner and those guys doing the winning and our little deal was kind of in the background, it didn't seem like it was going to be that important."

"Then he won that first Grand Prix in Japan, man I was devastated, I couldn't believe it, 'what do you mean Schwantz won!' It wasn't just that he beat me he beat everyone else. It used to be pretty important to me that I beat my team mate because he was on the same bike, so I had beaten Magee that day, passed him on the last lap I think and took sixth and be was seventh. Well pretty soon that wasn't good enough, I forgot about Magee and I realised that the most important thing to me was to beat Schwantz. I didn't care if I was fifth as long as he was sixth. In a way him winning that race in Japan was one of the good things that happened in my career then because it really got me going."

"We've had a load of good races over the years at Grand Prix, he was always the guy I reckoned was going to be the hardest to beat. When Eddie beat me for the World Championship in 1989 he did it because of experience. I reckon that if you took Lawson at his best and set him against Schwantz and I at our best Lawson would always finish third. He was never that much of a racer, he was smart and he had his bikes going well but he never raced that hard."

"There were not that many of the races Schwantz and I had where we raced the whole distance. There was the one where he beat me at Donington, be beat me at Hockenheim and I made a mistake at the last corner at Assen. I don't think that was because he had passed me at Hockenheim, I wasn't trying to stop him passing me but the race had been stopped and restarted and he had a time advantage over me so I had to be well in front of him to take the win, I was trying to put that gap on him when I made a mistake."

"It always seemed to me that if I could get away and make a tenth of a second a lap on him in the early part of the race I would have it. If I didn't get away and we were still going at it at the end of the race he would get more inspired. If I could break away he would just accept being second but the more we raced together the more inspired he got and could get real inspired over those last few laps."


Close, Suzuki 1989. It was like this for the whole race, on the last lap Wayne still thought there was one to go, Kevin won.    

 

"We were still going hard at each other in '93 we raced hard over the first ten laps or so at Austria, He would run it up the inside of me in a few places, I'd push inside him somewhere else or I'd piss him off by going around the outside, we were going at it for a while there."

"The '93 Japanese Grand Prix also stands out as quite a race. I had to race a few guys to catch him, then he dropped back, had to race a few guys then came back, it was quite a race, gave me a lot of satisfaction."

In the last few years we could have a few beers together and have a real good time. We would talk about everybody else's riding and that sort of thing, we just tended to stay off the subject of each other and things worked out better that way. When we had a few beers in us we didn't seem to care anyway. I remember one time at Donington we'd had some beers and we ended up fooling around wrestling on the floor, just having a good time and Lou Martin couldn't believe it. He said, 'you two, wrestling together,' he couldn't believe that we could get on like that but we'd kind of got it in perspective."

"Kevin's advantage has always been on the braking, he brakes harder than Barros, and he's real hard. There is no one harder on the brakes than Kevin. I don't know if it is the Suzuki, the brakes or just Kevin but he is late. I think one of the reasons he can do that is that he is good with the rear brake, but then that heats up the rear."

"I always felt that I was the best trained guy on the grid, I don't know if I was or not. If someone was doing more training than I was I didn't know about it. I was training pretty hard on the bikes both up at Kenny's and down at my house in L.A. I had a course laid out both places and I had a record. Every year I would work up to the point where I wanted to beat my own record before the start of the season and I always did, I pushed myself until I did it so every year I went into the season better prepared than before."

"I think that gave me an edge over Kevin, I knew that I could start off the race going fast and be going just as fast at the end. Kevin put that right in '93 he had it all together. He has sorted out exactly what it takes and he's going to be hard for anyone to beat in the future."
Previous PageNext Page
 

© Schwantz/Clifford 1994 No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any for or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise without prior permission in writing from Peter Clifford or Shirley Schwantz.

All rights reserved © 2000 Brand 34, Inc