way back when....

Kevin's sister Staci is twenty six months older but apparently was not the sort to exploit her age or the fact that her brother was a little on the scrawny side. "I don't remember us fighting much as kids. I can remember when we were in the car or whatever, when he was little I would just tickle him until he was just about ready to die because he couldn't breathe. That was the main thing I used to do to torture him. In high school we would play basketball, play horse and stuff and get along messing around together." Horse is an American game that involves free throws into a basketball net from various positions.

"When we were young, we did motorcycle stuff. He and my dad road trials and my mother never did. Even though I didn't actually ride motorcycles much we still all went as a family and camped for a day or the weekend. I never felt I missed out. We hung around the shop a lot and we would build stuff out of these Styrofoam packing cases the bikes came in."

Staci with Kevin caught in an angelic pose. As Shirley remembers it they did get on reasonably well. "He was a fairly timid kid when he was little. Staci bossed him around but they got on pretty good. She was the eldersister so she'd tell him what to do but she was not a real pushy child"

"Staci and Kevin did not live in each other's pockets all the time though. "There was enough age difference that we had our different friends, I was pretty well wrapped up in mine. She certainly does not remember her brother being at all angelic. "He road his bicycle through somebody's wet cemented drive way one time. He rode it back and forth, back and forth, he thought it was so much fun."

Jim and Shirley did not force their son to go road racing, they had never forced him into anything in fact. It had been natural for him to ride bikes, they were everywhere as his parents ran the shop. It was natural that he should compete in trials, that was what his father had been doing but road racing was very much his own idea.

"We certainly didn't push him, says Jim. "If anything we were negative towards racing we'd spent so much money doing it. We'd done motocross and dirt track, go karts, and that was after the trials riding. I was kind of burned out on racing but we had let him have this 600, he had gone and done some racing, done some endurance racing with some other guys.

Jim Schwantz is not one to exaggerate his son's talents, he doesn't do it now and it seems he never has. He does not remember Kevin as an extraordinary motocrosser or dirt tracker, just a good rider. By the time Kevin went road racing Jim had got well past the stage of having to watch his son every time he threw his leg over a motorcycle and Kevin was off doing his own thing.

"I had friends tell me, 'Jim you need to go watch him, he's really good road racing. All I was hearing was good stuff so I went and watched him. He was incredible, some of the things he was doing, I thought it was incredible. I thought that he really had something better than most other people from the first time I saw him road race. I was impressed to say the least and I was 100% for it from that time on."

Family Photo 1981

Until that point though Jim says he did not realise that the potential was there. "I really had no idea until I saw him road race that speed wouldn't scare him. If you are going fast on a motocrosser and you are doing what forty or fifty miles an hour. He got on a road racer and he'd run the thing flat stick, he didn't care if the front slid, the back slid it didn't make a bit of difference he was going for it. From the first time I saw him road race he was something special."

Jim recalls that he did not have the same feeling about Kevin's off road riding. "He was good on a motocrosser. In the 500 class he was what you had to beat around home. When he started on an 80 he didn't really dominate, he raced 100 for a while then he went straight to open class."

Once they had become enthralled with his road racing Jim and Shirley went along to watch but Shirley says they only envisioned success in America. "We didn't know anything about Grand Prix, we didn't think about international racing. I don't think we really thought about Kevin winning the AMA Superbike championship at first."

Darryl's TT 500, Darryl's leathers but it's Kevin getting the power down in the Astrdome. "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," Darryl's advice.

Jim felt the same. "Until we decided to go to the match races in '86 we had no idea that he was world class material."

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