Revon Craig is famous, at least if he isn't he should be. He is a character in the grand sense of the word and if you want a companion for a trip to Mexico for some hard riding and hard partying he is the man you would want to take. He and his late wife Lowayne saw a lot of Kevin as he was growing up as long time close friends of Jim and Shirley.
He saw a champion in the making. "Kevin started at such an early age. I was pretty young at the time too and I thought I was a pretty good rider and I was concerned more with my riding than anyone else's. I didn't think of Kevin as being an exceptional talent. He started when he was about five and of course initially he didn't ride as well as us big guys."
"But it wasn't long until he was riding far better than we were and of course we did sit up and take notice. As I recall his first real riding skill was on the trials circuit. He was just outstanding and everyone realised then that he had skills that were uncanny. He could make that little motorcycle do things that no one else could."
"He was always such a shy boy that just kind of hung in the background and you didn't notice him until he crawled on that motorcycle. And then he became possessed, it seemed like. He just had so much ability."
"Then when he got a little older and we would go trail riding Kevin was just in a class completely by himself. He just delighted in passing you and throwing chunks into your chest and knocking you clear off of your motorcycle."
"I can remember and it wasn't that many years ago, probably nine years ago. We were going up one of the three sisters down on Baja. I was going just as hard as I could go on an equal or maybe better machine than Kevin was riding and I was staying ahead of him and I was thinking, 'Oh boy Rev you're really something, your staying ahead of Kevin.' But it didn't last too long. He picked just the right spot going up the first of the three sisters going north. He knew exactly the rock he wanted to toss right into my chest. And he did , I still hurt from it I think."
|Revon Craig on a recent trip to Baja, telling it like it is while kevin hitches on the Alpinestars. Revon is the WFO sort of rider, flat to the stop, over the rock strewn terrain of the mexican penisular.|
"We had some great times on those trips to Baja. One time he had two 490 YZs and he literally destroyed both of them. We had the truck in San Felipe and the second one barely made it to San Felipe that last day. I think he may have run the crank in the first."
Kevin's ability for practical jokes is just about legendary. It might involve tossing dirt or rocks in your face while out riding dirt bikes or any of a diverse repertoire of tricks guaranteed to jointly test one's temper and humour. Revon attests to Kevin's unique ability. "As time goes by he gets more and more that way and he's getting so good at it. I think he maybe practices 24 hours a day but he doesn't need any more practice. He's outstanding in suckering people in and playing practical jokes."
Kevin has developed more than an ability to raise pain and laughter and the shyness that Revon saw in Kevin as a kid has gone. "Absolutely, I guess when you win as often as Kevin does you can't continue to be shy. But Kevin was really really shy when he was young. Even early in his professional racing career he was very shy and when he was interviewed he had a hard time looking at anything but his toes."
But he always did a good job. His interviews were always very informative, very polite. And this is another thing, my wife Marty thinks that Kevin is the nicest, most thoughtful gentleman in the world. Just a few days ago, she made the comment, "you know that young man even with his wealth and fame, still opens car doors for women."
|Kevin racing to first place in the Conroe Motocross in 1981 riding his Yamaha YZ465.|
It is not hard to tell that Revon thinks the world of Kevin and the family friendship runs deep. "There's been a couple of occasions when Kevin has helped me, that have just saved my ass. He's one of these fellas that as long as you don't do him wrong he will do anything in the world to help you."
Revon also has his own motorcycle dealership, The Golden Triangle Cycle Center, in Beaumont and the family friendship has developed over a thirty-year period. "I didn't know Jim and Shirley when they got married. We met in '64 I guess, and I knew Jim and Shirley when Kevin was born. They've always been a very very close knit family, actually I don't know that I've ever heard Jim and Shirley have a serious problem. I guess they may have but if so they've always kept it to themselves. That kind of relationship between Jim and Shirley has rubbed off on Staci and Kevin."
"Of course Jim and Shirley are so responsible for Kevin's success and if it wasn't for them Kevin wouldn't he where he is today even with his ability. Its been a team effort between the whole family, Staci, Jim, Shirley and Kevin. It's always been a healthy whole-that doesn't exist with many families."
Revon is certain the backing Kevin got from his parents did not amount to him being forced into racing. "They never pushed him. I have never heard Jim even suggest that Kevin do something that Kevin wasn't all for." Revon does not believe that Kevin's potential was hidden from his parents. "I think Jim and Shirley saw it if they would admit it. But the whole family are extremely modest, they're not pushy, they are very thankful for everything."
|He says that Kevin's inborn ability got the right development. "I think he possessed a tremendous amount of natural talent but he was eager to learn. He watched and listened and I think his uncle was a big big influence on him. He always looked up to Darryl. I've never heard him say, gee I'd really like to be like Darryl but I know be felt like that an awful lot of times. I think Darryl's success really motivated Kevin in the early years so he kind of pushed himself to be equally as good as Darryl. I don't think at that time he thought he would move on to international fame like he has."|
|Baja in June 1981 and the schwantz clan camp out at the junction between Highway three and the road to Mike's Sky Ranch.|
Kevin's determination is so great within himself that he will push until something breaks. Fortunately it doesn't break too often any more but when he was a kid he would just ride and ride and ride until something broke."
Pushing things to the limit seems to have been a Schwantz trait from his earliest years but Revon does not remember tat putting him on his ear. "Even when he was a kid he didn't fall much. you can call it luck or whatever you want but it really isn't, he is so skillful that he saves himself from a disaster nearly every time it looms.
"Kevin rides anything well and drives anything well. Follow behind him in an automobile and it is not long before he is just a speck. He manoeuvres anything mechanical well."
Revon does not claim to have taught Kevin to ride motorcycles like a champion though he is a good dirt rider in his own right. Perhaps he has influenced Kevin in other ways. We were down in Baja and spending the night at Santa Arnez, There was a big group of us and we met another group from California. The bar tender was mixing Margaritas literally in a bucket. I remember Kevin leaving the restaurant after having a full meal with a steak in each hand and a steak in his mouth. .. can that boy eat.
"I remember someone getting on the table, tipping the Margarita bucket over his head and making a speech. The next morning they said it was me...."
|Summer 1979 just turning 15 and already riding with plenty of style and consumate confidence, as he rode bigger machinery, Jim remembers he just got better. " He was a good motorcrosser. When he started on an 80 he didn't really dominate, he raced 100 for a while then he went straight to open class. In the 500 class he was what you had to beat around home.|
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