Kevin Schwantz

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Kevin Schwantz
Kevin Schwantz 1993 JapanGP.JPG
Schwantz on the Suzuki RGV500
Nationality United States
Born (1964-06-19) June 19, 1964 (age 50)
Houston, Texas
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 1986 - 1995
First race 1986 500cc Dutch TT
Last race 1995 500cc Japanese Grand Prix
First win 1988 500cc Japanese Grand Prix
Last win 1994 500cc British Grand Prix
Team(s) Suzuki
Championships 500cc - 1993
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
105 25 51 29 26 1236.5

Kevin Schwantz (born (1964-06-19)June 19, 1964 in Houston, Texas) is an American former World Champion motorcycle road racer during the late 1980s and early 1990s.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Schwantz, whose parents owned a motorcycle shop, learned to ride at the age of four.[1] He began his competitive career as a trials rider, following his father in that sport.[1] From trials, he progressed to motocross in his teens, becoming a top regional MX racer.[1] After a serious crash in qualifying for the Houston Supercross in 1983, he decided to quit motocross.[1]

Career[edit]

At the end of the 1984 season, he was offered a test ride with the Yoshimura Suzuki Superbike team, who promptly signed the Texan to a contract.[1] In his first race for Yoshimura, he won both legs of the 1985 Willow Springs AMA Superbike National.[1] He finished seventh overall in the championship despite only competing in half the races.[1] He finished second to Eddie Lawson in the 1986 Daytona 200 on the new Suzuki GSX-R750.[1] Then, in what would become an all too common occurrence throughout his career, he broke his collarbone in a qualifying crash and missed several races.[1] Once again he finished seventh overall in the Championship.[1]

The 1987 Superbike National Championship would be remembered by motorcycle fans as the beginning of Schwantz' fiercely competitive rivalry with Wayne Rainey.[1] The two battled throughout the entire season, often coming into contact on the track. Rainey eventually won the National Championship but Schwantz closed out the season winning five out of six races.[1] So intense was their rivalry that they continued their battle during the 1987 Trans-Atlantic Match Races in which they were supposedly team mates competing against a team of British riders.[1]

Schwantz began 1988 by winning the season opening Daytona 200 in what would be his only win in that prestigious event.[3] He then departed for Europe as Suzuki promoted him to its 500cc Grand Prix team where he made an immediate impact by winning the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix in the opening round at Suzuka, Japan (it was only his seventh Grand Prix ride in total, as he'd had wild card rides in 1986 on the old square four RG500 & 1987 on the first version of the V4 RGV500).[1][2] His arch rival, Rainey would join him on the Grand Prix circuit, signing with the Team Roberts-Yamaha squad.[4] For the next six years, the two would continue their intense rivalry on race tracks all across Europe.[2] The late 1980s and early 1990s are remembered as one of the most competitive eras of Grand Prix racing with a field rich in talent that included Rainey, Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Eddie Lawson and Randy Mamola.[5] He was often at a disadvantage in that his Suzukis never seemed to be as fast as those of his Yamaha and Honda mounted rivals. His sheer determination to win at all cost meant that he seemed to crash as often as he won. This trait made him a popular favorite among race fans the world over.[2] His last lap pass of Rainey to win the 1991 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, with his rear tire fish-tailing on the verge of control, typified Schwantz' "do or die" riding style.

He culminated his career in 1993 by winning his first and only 500cc World Championship.[2] After suffering through a crash infested 1994 season, the injuries he had incurred over the years began to take their toll on him,[2] as did the career ending injuries suffered by his rival Rainey, at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Early in the 1995 season, after a conversation with Rainey, Schwantz decided to retire from motorcycle competition.[1][6] Schwantz had accumulated 25 Grand Prix wins during his career, one more than his great rival, Wayne Rainey.[1][4] This made him the second most successful American roadracer behind Eddie Lawson. In a rare display of respect, the FIM retired his racing number (34) as a testament to his popularity.

In the late 1990s Schwantz ran a couple of seasons of the Australian NASCAR Championship before returning home to the USA where for several years he competed in the NASCAR Busch Series, running 18 races with 2 top tens, and touring car races.[1] He currently owns and operates a motorcycle riding school in Birmingham, Alabama. Schwantz was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.[1] The FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend" in 2000.[7]

Schwantz co-designed the Circuit of the Americas racetrack with Tavo Hellmund and with the assistance of German architect and circuit designer Hermann Tilke.[8]

Schwantz has operated a riding school since circa 2001.[9]

Other appearances[edit]

In 2003, he was featured in the motorcycle racing documentary film, Faster.

In 2011, he was riding Marco Simoncelli's bike in his honour in Valencia, Spain.

Grand Prix career statistics [2][edit]

Points system from 1968 to 1987

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1

Points system from 1988 to 1992

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Points 20 17 15 13 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Points system from 1993 onwards.

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Points 25 20 16 13 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team Machine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points Rank Wins
1986 500cc Rizla-Suzuki RG500 ESP
-
NAT
-
GER
-
AUT
-
YUG
-
NED
Ret
BEL
10
FRA
Ret
GBR
-
SWE
-
RSM
10
2 22nd 0
1987 500cc Heron-Suzuki RGV500 JPN
-
ESP
5
GER
-
NAT
8
AUT
-
YUG
-
NED
-
FRA
9
GBR
-
SWE
-
CZE
-
RSM
-
POR
-
BRA
-
ARG
-
11 16th 0
1988 500cc Pepsi Suzuki RGV500 JPN
1
USA
5
ESP
Ret
EXP
Ret
NAT
4
GER
1
AUT
4
NED
8
BEL
Ret
YUG
-
FRA
3
GBR
Ret
SWE
12
CZE
Ret
BRA
3
119 8th 2
1989 500cc Pepsi Suzuki RGV500 JPN
1
AUS
Ret
USA
2
ESP
Ret
NAT
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
1
YUG
1
NED
Ret
BEL
2
FRA
2
GBR
1
SWE
Ret
CZE
1
BRA
1
162.5 4th 6
1990 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 JPN
3
USA
Ret
ESP
3
NAT
2
GER
1
AUT
1
YUG
2
NED
1
BEL
7
FRA
1
GBR
1
SWE
Ret
CZE
Ret
HUN
3
AUS
Ret
188 2nd 5
1991 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 JPN
1
AUS
5
USA
3
ESP
Ret
ITA
7
GER
1
AUT
3
EUR
4
NED
1
FRA
4
GBR
1
RSM
2
CZE
5
VDM
1
MAL
DNS
204 3rd 5
1992 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 JPN
3
AUS
4
MAL
DNS
ESP
4
ITA
1
EUR
4
GER
2
NED
DNF
HUN
4
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
BRA
7
RSA
5
199 4th 1
1993 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 AUS
1
MAL
3
JPN
2
ESP
1
AUT
1
GER
2
NED
1
EUR
3
RSM
2
GBR
Ret
CZE
5
ITA
3
USA
4
FIM
3
248 1st 4
1994 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 AUS
4
MAL
6
JPN
1
ESP
2
AUT
2
GER
2
NED
5
ITA
3
FRA
Ret
GBR
1
CZE
7
USA
-
ARG
-
EUR
-
169 4th 2
1995 500cc Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 AUS
5
MAL
4
JPN
6
ESP
-
GER
-
ITA
-
NED
-
FRA
-
GBR
-
CZE
-
BRA
-
ARG
-
EUR
-
34 15th 0

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Kevin Schwantz at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Kevin Schwantz at MotoGP.com". motogp.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Daytona 200 winners". motorsportsetc.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Wayne Rainey at MotoGP.com". motogp.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Oxley, Mat (2010), An Age Of Superheroes, Haynes Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84425-583-2 
  6. ^ "Kevin Schwantz Retires". superbikeplanet.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "MotoGP Legends". motogp.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Maher, John (23 April 2012). "Turn for turn, Austin track's design, layout should look familiar to F1 drivers". Austin-American Statesman. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Cornering Curriculum: Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School, Sport Rider, December 2001, retrieved 2012-10-31 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ron Haslam
Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix Winner
1988
Succeeded by
Robert Dunlop
Preceded by
Wayne Rainey
500cc Motorcycle World Champion
1993
Succeeded by
Michael Doohan