yoshi years...

Kevin and Yoshimura: 'John Ulrich called and said that he was trying to set up something for me. He finally got me a ride in the last Superbike round at Willow Springs. He asked if I was interested and of course I was. He said that they weren't going to pay my expenses but that I would be able to keep any prize money that I won. My dad and I discussed it and of course we wanted to give it a go."

"I went out a day early and John had set it up for me to have a ride on his Team Hammer Endurance bike, I hadn't hardly done any miles on slicks and certainly not on anything with the power of a good superbike or John's endurance bike."

"I went out and did six, eight or ten laps and then come in. John would say, Kevin you are doing everything pretty good but why don't you try and do this or that. John helped a lot, he knew his way round Willow a lot better than I did and he would suggest a different line here or there this or that thing that I might try to cut the lap time."

"By the time the day was over I was two seconds quicker than anyone had gone on the Team Hammer bike. "

As soon as I got off the bike Nabe was there with a piece of paper, sign this sign this and ride for us next year.

"The next morning I was up bright and early and out to the track for 7 o'clock I was all signed up and ready to go, ready for my big race day. The team Yoshimura guys turned up at a quarter to ten. I got like three laps of practice on the Yoshimura Superbike."

"I had been telling myself all week long to remember to change one up and five down like a traditional race bike. We had dropped by the Yosh shop when I arrived in California and Nabe had asked me which way I normally shifted. I had told him that I was used to one down and the rest up but they never mentioned that they could change their bike. When they showed up their hike shifted one down so I had to unlearn what I had been telling myself all week."

"So I just got the three practice laps, they put new tyres on it and we started the race. The first race was Formula One I think and I actually won that pretty easy. At that stage none of the guys who had the good superbikes were bothering with the Formula One race."

"Then the 750 Superbike race was next. I forget who was there exactly, I started and just off the line the engine coughed and died, it stopped dead. Doug Tolland, 1993 World Endurance Champion, came running out of the pit lane and pushed me, got me started. I mean by that time everyone was gone away round to turn three."

Winning on the Yoshimura GS750 Superbike early in 1985, a Pro-Am race at Willow Springs and hence the odd racing number.

"I caught them all passed them and was into the lead in eight or ten laps. Scott Gray, Tod Brubaker, a couple of others, I just rode hard enough to beat them, I didn't do anything outstanding, a lap of 1.31 or something like that I'm not sure but it was a second quicker than Merkel had gone when he won the AMA superbike race that year."

"As soon as I got off the bike Nabe was there with a piece of paper, sign this sign this and ride for us next year. It all happened in one day, I went from someone who just raced round on a production bike to someone who would be trying to qualify for the Daytona 200 the following March, all in one day."

"It was not that difficult to win that day, it really wasn't. The bike that I rode at Willow and in '85 also was so easy to ride. Don my mechanic had a good idea of what needed to be done and it seemed that as we went from one race track to another there was not that much that needed doing. The bike basically worked and worked everywhere."

We had some neat bars on it that made it real comfortable and easy for me to ride. They were sort of clip-ons that came up from the top clamps, they were real wide and gave plenty of leverage."

"Later on Yamaha wanted me to ride for them in '86 and '87...."

"The only thing about joining Yoshimura to ride the Suzuki was that we were a Yamaha dealership of course. Darryl and Dad would have liked me to ride a Yamaha as far as the shop was concerned and Dad and Darryl had phoned Yamaha and talked to Kenny Clarke to try and get something organised. He just said that they had no plans for any racing in '85 and that we would have to wait until '86 before there was any chance of a bike to ride. They wanted something, anything, but Yamaha said no."

"I think that my Dad and I agreed with Nabe that we would ride Daytona in '85 and see what happened from there. The second time I went out to Willow was at the beginning of '85. There was an early season race that we look on as a sort of warm up race for Daytona. I tested the bike then beat Wes Cooley and a bunch of other guys and that meant a bit more, there hadn't been any of the top guys there when I won that first race at Willow but when I went out there and beat some of the top Superbike guys Suzuki took more notice and they came along and wanted me to sign for '85."

"Later on Yamaha wanted me to ride for them in '86 and '87 but Yoshimura were giving me competitive bikes and I had got used to working with the guys at Yoshimura, Don, Jun, Zenta, Nabe and the rest of the crew.

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