way back when....

Kevin's parents owned and operated a motor cycle dealership so it is hardly surprising that he was put on two wheels early. As his father Jim remembers it the early progress was rapid. "He would have started riding a motorcycle Just about right after he rode a bicycle. I would say it was only a matter of months or even weeks before he was on a motorcycle. He was probably only four at the time."

Kevin even remembers the power, or lack of it. "They had lawn mower engines, The first one I had was a three and a half horsepower, the second felt like it was probably five horsepower. It just had a great big pedal on it that you operated with your foot and it rubbed on the rear tyre when you wanted to stop."

The family business was originally Hurst Supply and sold lawn equipment and bicycles as the 1953 Photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Hurst shows. Their son Darryl and daughter Shirley would inherit the shop but even prior to that Jim Schwantz worked there. "I started working for Mr. Hurst before we got married,"explains Jim. We got married and then took over the shop on '61. Things used to get dead in the winter though and when we first started that I would go back and work as a draughtsman." • They had a daughter Staci and the business started expanding as Shriley recalls. "We started selling Yamaha motorcycles inn '64, and that ws the year that Kevin was born. We worked in partnership with Darryl until we sold our share to him in '84."

 

Christmas 1968

 


Kevin had quickly got the hang of stopping with the foot brake but one day a Honda 50 Mini Trail came into the shop for repairs and one of the mechanics thought that Kevin might appreciate the extra power. As Jim recalls the extra power caused no particular problem but the Mini Trail had more normal motorcycle controls. "The Honda had a normal handlebar brake whereas his minibikes had a foot brake. It didn't occur to anybody that maybe his little hands weren't big enough to work the hand brakes. He couldn't have been more than about five. Turning the throttle was no problem but once he got it going stopping became a big problem. He elected to stop it by running into the back fence."

"It was off to the hospital for stitches in his head. Staci was outside the surgery crying, he was inside screaming."

The increase in power had Kevin hooked though and he soon forgot the pain associated with the Mini Trail. "I don't think I had that for very long actually, not that the crash hurt the bike that bad but Yamaha came out with a 60cc Mini Enduro.

Left: Age 11 / Right: Kevin & Staci '67

 

Being a Yamaha dealership that was definitely the machine of choice and with that bike thanks to some modifications by Jim, Kevin entered his first competitions. "They had a JTl and a GTl, I believe the JTl was an 60 and the GT an 80. Basically all I did on those was ride observed trials. I rode trials with my dad on those until I was seven or eight. Then I got a TY80, Yamaha's trials bike."

"I probably competed in trials all round our area for four or five years. I think I was either ten or eleven when I finally got a YZ80 motocrosser, they came out I believe in '76. maybe I was 12"

"On that I did my first race, it would have been a hare scramble. When I was trials riding I always tried to ride my trials bike as fast as I could, getting between one section and another. So I was rarin' to go at the hare scrambles and I guess as kids we used to have to ride one, maybe two hours. I did quite a bit of riding so I was fit enough to ride, I think all kids are anyway just from running around a lot."

Running around a lot Kevin did well but he certainly wasn't an athletic kid in the classic mould of a potential college of professional American Football star. He was a pretty scrawny kid but still had a go at just about everything. "I played football in junior high, I was on the football team for a year but I also played soccer, baseball and basketball."

His lack of mass was certainly against him playing gridiron and he lacked the height to cause Larry Bird any kind of problems. "I wasn't really great at any of those. I was better at soccer than any of the other sports. I was pretty good at soccer, I was fast, as fast as any of the guys so that helped and I could manoeuvre the ball pretty good."

He was having enough fun just being a kid, messing around with the other kids and doing sports with them rather than becoming a dedicated motor cycle competitor. "At that stage I was probably more interested in sport at school, playing soccer and stuff than riding motor cycles. I would stay after school and practice. There was not a lot of daylight left for riding motorcycles. Especially the last couple of years of junior high there was not much time for bikes."


Jim dirt tracking on his OSSA, he has always been a good rider though he never raced professionally, there were other priorities. "We had a buisiness to run. Leaving Saturdaynight to travel to Lubbock, coming back Sunday night and going to work. We just decided that I wouldn't pursue it with any seriousness and leave it to Darryl," Explains Jim and Shirley concurs. "We were married with two kids, Darryl wasn't. We were a chain around his neck, kept him from becoming rich and famous."

Just an average kid at sports and the same went for his time in the classroom as Shirley recalls. "He always made decent grades, he might not have been a straight 'A' student because he wasn't that serious about it but he did all right. He probably wishes he'd have tried harder now just like we all do."

Being fleet of foot and with an innate judgement of speed and distance Kevin found little difficulty with a number of ball sports. "when I got to high school I was on the tennis team, at least I attempted to be on the tennis team for four years, I eventually got thrown off the tennis team, but that's another story. I was riding motocross at the weekends but there were tennis tournaments and we'd stay after school to practice and that took up a lot of the time. So I didn't have that much spare time then either."

For Kevin riding motorcycles did not really get serious until after he had finished school. "It was not until '82, after high school when I finally started to spend a lot of time motocrossing. I got my professional license then and started to do quite a bit of riding."

The biggest motorcycle events in his area were run in the Houston Astrodome. Every year there was the famous Astrodome Short Track and TT AMA Nationals and the Houston round of the AMA Supercross series. Run along-side the National Supercross would be support events. 'I did the Houston Supercross a couple of years, I think it was '83 and '84 and anyway I crashed on both occasions. It was then that someone said, hey why don't you come and try roadracing. I guess I must have been hurting at the time because I took notice."

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