With his four 500cc world championships, 'Steady Eddie' was certainly one the greatest motorcycle grand prix roadracers in the 1980s. We're huge fans and always will be...
The second issue of Dainese Legends magazine features an interview with Eddie Lawson, one of the greatest motorcycle grand prix racers of the 1980s. Lawson, who won the 500cc GP roadracing world championship in 1984, 86, 88 and 89, took 31 race wins in the 500cc GPs in an era that was populated by racers like Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner and Randy Mamola.
Today, 23 years after Lawson won his last 500cc world championship, he is still regarded as one of the best motorcycle roadracers ever to emerge from the United States and what he has to say is still very, very interesting for those who have fond memories of the old 500cc two-stroke GP racing days. Here are some excerpts from Lawson had to say to Legends:
On how he got into motorcycle roadracing
“I came from a family of racers. My grandfather was one, and my father was as well – bikes, cars, everything. It was natural for me to be in a seat and racing, but I wasn’t fast right away. It took some time. I was timid, I wasn’t aggressive, and I wanted to understand how to go fast, and not just throw myself down the road. It got to the point where my grandfather once said, ‘The boy will never be fast’…”
On his deep-seated will to win
“It was something I had inside of me, I really wanted to win. I always gave my very best, and I trained like a lunatic. I’d think about the moment in which I’d be in the race, when I needed to find those final two, elusive, tenths of a second. After a loss I would be miserable, but I wasn’t the only one. Wayne Rainey, when it happened to him, would be furious. I guess that was the source of our motivation, and I think that it’s absolutely necessary to suffer when things don’t go as you planned, because that’s was pushes you to improve.”
On the 500cc GP racebikes of the 1980s
“The bikes back then were terrible. They were very powerful, but with a very limited range of use. They were lightweight, and had no electronic aids. We were very fortunate to have been able to ride them. It was a unique experience, and something that can’t be repeated since today’s bikes have a lot of electronics. Back then it was all in the rider’s right wrist.”
On what he would change about his racing days if he could
“I’m very grateful for the life that I had, and anyway you can’t go back and change the past. It would be great to have a crystal ball and see what would have happened if… but you can’t.”
On his love for motorcycles
“I still really love bikes, and at least once a week I ride motocross or supermotard. The track? I don’t go anymore. Partly because it’s difficult to organize something and partly because I don’t want to be knocked down by someone who sees me and says, ‘Hey, there’s Eddie Lawson!’ I prefer to ride alone. That’s what I love to do, and I have always loved doing it. Riding.”
Source: Dainese Legends
Eddie Lawson's riding style wasn't as spectacularly entertaining as, say, Kevin Schwantz's. But in the end, guess who won more world championships?!