Used to watch (on television…) Kevin Schwantz racing in the 500cc FIM Motorcycle World Championship, in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson were also very good, but Kevin Schwantz was something else. He was awesome. He was God. He was the best of the best. Even though he won just one world championship (in 1993) as opposed to the seven which Valentino Rossi has already won, in my mind, Schwantz will always be the greatest. So it was a very special occasion when we got to interview him recently. Here’s what the man had to say:
Is there any MotoGP rider today who reminds you of your own days in GP racing?
Rossi. And I say I wish I could have done it that good!
What’s the biggest thing in racing that’s changed since the mid-1980s?
It’s how big the hospitality side has become.
In racing, what’s more important – man or motorcycle?
It used to be 90% man, 10% machine. Now it is 75% and 25%.
What’s your opinion of the forthcoming 800cc MotoGP machines?
I am happy with MotoGP and its direction. 800cc is a good change and I don't think it will slow them down.
Who do you think is the most awesome motorcycle stunt rider ever?
Stunting is bad for our image as motorcyclists! Stunting has no professional place and therefore it is done mostly on public roads. I don't know any stunters.
In terms of motorcycle engineering prowess, which manufacturer’s work do you admire most?
Suzuki. The GSX-Rs all impress me. I will always admire Suzuki for the size of the factory (how small they are) and how good their product is.
What do you think of 1000cc, 180-horsepower sportsbikes being available to the average rider?
Motorcycles just like cars are getting lighter and faster, and I hope always will. As riders, we need to be taught more and better, and wear the proper gear. Arai helmet especially!
Did anything in racing scare you ever?
I was scared after Rainey got injured.
What do Suzuki need to do, in order to win a MotoGP championship?
The tires need to be consistently better to help Suzuki make big improvements to the bike.
What do you think of the Isle of Man TT races?
Dangerous, but they are part of our sport.
Do you ever miss your racing days?
I race for fun in the US. It will always be in my blood. MotoGP is for younger guys.
Do you know anything at all about India?
I don't know much about India. I would have to come visit your country and learn more about your people.
Current street ride: Suzuki GSX-R1000
Valentino Rossi or Freddie Spencer: Rossi, no doubt
Cruisers – yes or no: Yes. It's a motorcycle
All-time favourite racing motorcycle: Suzuki RGV 500, 1993 model
All-time favourite street motorcycle: Suzuki Hayabusa
BMW bikes – yes or no: Yes. It's a motorcycle
Ferrari or Lamborghini: Ferrari
Max Biaggi, in one word: Good
Favourite food: Mexican
Most memorable post-race party: Jerez, 1989
Watch the inimitable Schwantz in action on his Suzuki RGV500