people power

"Like at Czecho in '95, going up that long hill away from the bottom corner, through the tight left and right and pulling away, everyone else was running so much shorter gearing than Kevin. I think that Rainey would shift at least one more time going up the hill. I did mention that. We were doing splits from the bottom of that hill, coming out of the tight right, from there onto the front straight and he was always half a second slower."


The Schwantz family is special. of that there is no doubt. Gary Taylor sees them first hand and values what they have. "It is very unusual relationship and not one that you can easily understand. You have to say that it works for Kevin. You watch Shirley shouting for Kevin to go faster. You would find it hard to imagine Kevin without a Suzuki and for harder to imagine Kevin without Jim and Shirley." "they are very valuable." Jim and Shirley operate the radar gun during most sessions and may also take section times in the position allows them, varying their routine to suit the needs of the team.

During the season the family virtually live in each other's pockets. Even a motorhome as large as theirs is very limited when it comes to privacy. Kevin sleeps in the motorhome at the track almost all the time while Jim and Shirley stay at the hotel with the team. Travelling between races Kevin sometimes travels in the motorhome with his parents or he may be off on business with one of his personal sponsors or taking a break back home in Texas.

They do see a lot of each other and it is a testament to the family bond and the nature of all three of them that they get on so well despite the fairly obviously extreme pressures of racing. There are times when things are not going well on the track but as a family they keep even those problems to themselves as much as possible as Shirley confirms. "If things are not going well, we are the ones that hear about it. I think he keeps it pretty much inside the motorhome."


Jim feels he has less control. "I probably let it get outside the motorhome more than anybody. People come up wanting this or that and sometimes I get short with them and say, look can you please come back later when they probably deserve a little explanation." In fact Jim is rather hard on himself, he always manages to be civil, even at the most awkward times, when disaster may have struck the team.

Shirley can see Jim getting pestered. "He's out there trying to wash or work on the motorhome and you've got people coming up, Have you got stickers? Have you got any posters? and you do it a few times then it's hard work to get down off the ladder again, go in the motorhome, get another sticker and so on. E So Jim has his own guidelines to work with. "When practice is going bad and people come up and start wanting things from Kevin, wanting Kevin to sign this or have his picture taken that can be difficult. I kind of have a rule that after practice it will probably be all right but not before practice and nothing on Sunday until after the race."

"A lot of people do come around after the race and just hang out at the motorhome until he gets showered and comes out. Then he'll sign a bunch of autographs. I just tell the people that he'll be out in a little while and if you want to hang around eventually he'll come out."

As Shirley says Kevin does spend time with his fans. "Kevin's pretty good at that, once the race is over he'll spend a lot of time. Unless he's really done terrible then he's not as keen but even if he doesn't win he's still OK. I think some of the other riders, if they don't win there's no talking to them at all but Kevin's not like that."

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