yoshi years...

"Wayne worked real close with the guys in his team. First and foremost Wayne has always been one to work on trying to figure out what they could do to make the bike better. I mean he was doing the same thing when he came Grand Prix racing. Kenny would have some guys videoing the practice sessions. Then Wayne would sit down and watch them, it must have taken ages, watching what his bike was doing lap after lap at a corner, watching what my bike was doing, what Eddie's was doing. He was prepared to do it."

"I never have focused a lot on watching other guys either out on the track or on video tapes. That's just Wayne though, he refuses to accept the fact that on any given day he might get beat. I would like to think that I try as hard as I can every time I go out but I know that there will be days when you can't win. There are good days and bad days for you and the bike."

Kevin was enjoying his racing and being paid to do it but he was not exactly getting rich. "In '85 I just rode for expenses from Yoshimura. In '86 I don't remember exactly what I got but lets say it was about $40,000 and about $60,000 in '87. I was still living with my Mom and Dad at the time, they sold their house in Houston and we were living in a condo."

Bob MacLean has helped a few famous riders on their way to stardom, he backed Wayne Rainey for a season in the US and on just a single occasion Kevin rode one of his machines, an RS250 Honda at Laguna Seca in 1986. "I think it was fairly casual and I just said to Kevin, "We've got an extra bike, would you like to ride.' The incredible thing was that Kevin didn't even practice on the bike, he'd never ridden it, it wasn't even set up for him but he won his heat race."

"So he lined up for the final on the front row, Donny Greene was Formula Two Champion, he got way but Kevin was catching him all the way. Then on the last lap, at the second to last corner, the right hander he lost it. He was right there to pass him and it was just a question of whether or not there might be a hundred feet left to get around him before the end of the race."

'It was a pretty spectacular performance for just jumpuing on a bike and going for it. He was just an enthusiastic id that had bundles of talent and energy that was either expended on the race track or on a burn out with the rent-a-car in the parking lot. He was great fun to be around and still is, he's a regular guy and is still a kid even though in terms of his approach to racinghe is a lot more experienced and mature. I still think that if you took all the corporate sponsors out of the equation and offered him a 250 at one of the GP's, he'd say, 'Sure, wheel it up to the start, I'd love to have a go. It's that 'give it a go attitude,' he's always had that and some kind of genetic flair that has him doing those incredible things."

In those days there was nothing like the pressure on his time that there is now. "About the only PR work we were doing were the Camel things on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the race trying to promote the events. We had no big sponsor for the team, just Yoshimura and US Suzuki and they didn't have a lot of PR stuff going on."

"I enjoyed dealing with the public. When I started racing it was just pure fun, when I got to riding the superbike it was still a lot of fun plus it was neat that a lot of people wanted to talk to you, meet you and hear about the bike and the racing. Those year's '85, 86 and especially '87 were probably the most fun that I have had racing. It always is good when you have a season when the bike is working well and with the exception of my own mental mistakes I basically felt like we should have been able to beat Wayne and win the championship."

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