yoshi years...

"I still wasn't thinking about international racing, I wasn't thinking any further than the AMA Superbike championship and maybe winning it. My Uncle had raced the National dirt track circuit for a few years and he knew the importance of the nationals and the difference in ability it took to win them. I raced through '84 on the 600 and the 350 and I remember boasting to him that I'd won six races in an afternoon, I'd won 'C' production, I'd won 'D' production and I'd won Superbike in the same afternoon. And he said 'Oh yeah, well that's all fine and dandy but come back and tell me when you've won that first National.' "

"So that was still in the back of my head. I'd won a lot of races even beaten some factory supported riders a few times but I still hadn't won a national and that was my aim, that was as far as I was looking."

So when I finally won that first National, then I started to look ahead, to think about maybe winning the championship and to think that maybe I could win a hunch of races but I still never even thought about riding a 500 and doing Grand Prix. I used to read a few stories about what went on in Europe and of course I had heard about Kenny and then what Freddie was doing over there but never thought about doing it myself."

Well, eventually Don put some grease in my back brake.

Kevin had been thrown into the professional limelight though and suddenly there was more to it than just riding the motorcycle, interviews for example. "I just used to say as little as possible and above all not try and say anything against the bike or other riders or stuff like that. I didn't want to stir up anything because I was conscious of the fact that I was new in the national arena and people could make life difficult for me if I started getting real cocky and speaking out of turn."

"I just used to say that I knew who the people were that I had to beat and that I was just there to try and get up there and race with them. I didn't say that I was going to go out there and win, I didn't make those sort of predictions.

There was also the added complexity of a machine that could be adjusted and modified, not something that Kevin had any experience of with the production Yamahas. "I just used to come in and Don would say, 'Well how does it feel?' In fact for the first few races on the Suzuki the biggest problem that I had was the back end chattered real bad. It didn't seem to matter what they did to the suspension it still chattered real bad going into the turns. Well eventually Don put some grease in my back brake. I didn't know what he had done but I went out, tried it and came back in and told him it was perfect. He then told me what he had done."

Called the GS700 in the US because of import restrictions, known elsewhere as a GS or GSX750ES and raced for Yoshimura by Kevin in '85

"I had been using too much rear brake because I guess I needed to to help get my production bike stopped and that was causing the Superbike to chatter. Don wound off the rear brake a bit and with the grease it took the edge off the performance. If I really stomped on it I could still make it work but with normal pressure it didn't upset the handling."

"I went to Daytona in '85 and qualified third behind Spencer and Merkel. It blew the clutch up going off the line. I guess I was a bit nervous and we had been held there on the line while Erv taped up Freddie's face shield."

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