way back when....


Number 34 was Darryl Hurst's number, Kevin grew up seeing it on his uncle's racing machines. When he went to California to try the Yoshimura Superbike it was wearing the number 34, it had become Wes Cooley's number and Kevin took it back into the family. Darryl was an accomplished racer in his own right, winner of the AMA national short track event in the Houston Astrodome in 1975. Kenny Roberts won the TT event that weekend. Here on the San Jose Mile he leads Don Castro on the Erv Kanemoto built and prepared awasaki 750 two stroke triple and Skip Aksland, brother of Team Roberts turner Bud.

Darryl Hurst is the kind of uncle you'd want if you were going to he a successful racer, he's not the soft touch sort of Uncle to pander to your whims and make life easy for you, you might even think he was being hard on you but he was a successful racer in his own right, stands no BS and knows that it takes drive, determination and sheer hard work to achieve anything, that talent alone will not suffice.

Typical of his forthright nature he points to another factor as well when considering Kevin's success. "He was lucky."

"Luck helps in every way. He was lucky that he picked up the Yoshimura ride. When he was riding for us at the shop we tried to get Yamaha to help. We told Yamaha that Kevin could ride for the shop for a few more years and we would support him if they would just give us some help on the equipment so we can build some-thing that's competitive. Kenny Clarke just said no. I told him, 'Well if you don't do something, someone else is going to pick him up."

Darryl was a very big part of Kevin's early years for Kevin spent a great deal of time at the shop and the family life revolved around motor cycles and the shop. Darryl saw Kevin's riding develop, but as for picking out what made him a great racer "That's hard to tell. I try not to make opinions, I didn't push Kevin. He did whatever he wanted to do at whatev-er pace he wanted to do it. He tried motocross but when he got into road racing that seemed to be more his style, really until I went to see him at a couple of races, one at Texas World Speedway I didn't realise just how good he was."

There were three or four of the guys who were racing out of the shop at the time and were working on bikes at our place. Kevin was riding an old, basically stock FJ600. It was nothing trick, I think we had pulled it down and done a valve job on it, that was about all. Kevin could go as fast as an FJ600 could possibly go. And even faster."
The combined efforts of Jim and Shirley Schwantz and Darryl Hurst saw the company grow many fold. It expanded into marine equipment as well as Yamaha and OSSA motorcycles.

Darryl made his name as a dirt tracker but although he helped Kevin do some dirt tracking it was not a major part of Kevin's upbringing. "He could dirt track but there basically wasn't any dirt track around here. Probably the races in the dome were it, they ran an amateur program a few years. Kevin rode one of my bikes one year and one of Bubba Rush's another year. He just blasted everybody away. In the amateur classes he was far better than most all the kids, he was only sixteen or seventeen."

"He did really good then and I think all of that stuff helped. I think riding trials as a kid helped his balance, coordination and his ability to stay on top of it even when he should already have crashed. That point, making the thing stay underneath him, making it get traction and go is two thirds of the game whether its a dirt bike or a road racer. Your positioning on the seat makes a lot of difference to what that rear tyre is doing."

I think it has a lot to do with the balance factor, being able to ride a motorcycle with your left foot out in a dirt track situation. You are steering the motorcycle with your foot and the back wheel. The front wheel is basically not doing anything. You can turn it all the way to the left, you can even steer it to the right and it really doesn't do anything because it is just skipping along in the dirt."

Steering back to the inside coming out of the corner also puts more pressure on the back tyre. Learning to do that is a factor that probably a lot of people don't know anything about, unless you might tell them. The motorcycle's crossed up sideways coming out of the corner and the front wheel is turned to the right. Basically on a dirt tracker when you start steering back under, steering into it, what that does is the front tyre then starts putting leverage onto the back wheel, making the back tyre dig into the dirt and making it drive out of the corner."

"Where you really find that that happens more than other places is on a mile dirt track. On a mile you are running 130 mph down the straightaway and 95 to 100 miles an hour through the corners. Going through the corner, there might be a little bit of a cushion or a little bit of a groove where you are riding. You have it a little bit crossed up and as you start coming out of the corner you start steering back under, the drive coming out of the corner changes immensely. You can really feel the back tyre hooking up and it starts driving out of the corner."

"I think all of those little things that he was possibly doing before he got into road racing probably played a part in developing his ability." Though he thinks that the time spent on a dirt tracker helped Kevin, Darryl takes none of the credit for his success. "Kevin learned everything on his own. It would be nice to think I taught him what he's doing but I didn't. He basically figured it out. And he figured it out really from being very young because he started riding so early. Jimmy built him a trials bike 'when he was five years old. He had already been riding the Bonanza mini bike."

"I think Kevin learned a lot from Mick Andrews coming out to visit. For several years there we were the worlds largest OSSA trials bike dealer. We sold more Mick Andrews replicas than anybody else in the whole world. And so we had Mick come down, we got to be friends and he taught trials schools for us. We had a trials rider's association here in Houston and we put on trials schools up in the national forest."

"I think that and not starting out riding the best piece of equipment when he was road racing. That helped because today's kids doing motocross, road race or whatever; they feel like that they have to have everything that the World Champion has, or at least the top guy in their class has because they can't possibly run with that guy if they don't have all the neatest, trickest, double-throwdown stuff."

"Truthfully most of the kids couldn't run with the guy that is beating them anyway because he has some ability that is making what he has work. They could have all exactly the same equipment and a ten miles an hour faster motorcycle and probably still not be able to run with him. I think the equipment is all way overplayed today especially with kids in motocross."

Darryl identifies one factor that was obvious from Kevin's earliest competitive years. "He was always determined and he did real good, just like in trials riding he did well, and he raced go karts for several years. I think everybody wants to win but some people have more drive, whatever you want to call it. Some just say, I can't possibly do that. If you don't have the want to win, well then you won't."

Forthright as ever Darryl has a final word on what Kevin might have achieved if he had not followed the World Championship trail. "It's good that he turned out to be a good racer. He wasn't too much on working." Kevin 1983 "Darryl's old black and blue leathers, I ws riding Darryl's short track TT500 at the Henderson road race, I refused to use a road race style, refused to put my knee down. I was still likely to take my inside foot off the peg ready to put that down, not actually put it down. just kind of hang it out there."
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