Kevin Schwantz

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Kevin Schwantz
Kevin Schwantz in 2010 cropped.JPG
Schwantz at a demonstration event in 2010
Nationality American
Born (1964-06-19) June 19, 1964 (age 54)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Bike number 34 (retired in honour)
Website Kevin Schwantz
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years1986 - 1995
First race1986 500cc Dutch TT
Last race1995 500cc Japanese Grand Prix
First win1988 500cc Japanese Grand Prix
Last win1994 500cc British Grand Prix
Team(s)Suzuki
Championships500cc - 1993
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
105 25 51 29 26 1236.5

Kevin Schwantz (born June 19, 1964 in Houston, Texas) is an American former professional motorcycle road racer. He was the 1993 FIM 500cc world champion.[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 and Uncle, Darryl Hurst (the original 34), 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 marked 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 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 teammates 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, having experienced wild card rides in 1986 on the old square four RG500 and in 1987 on the first version of the V4 RGV500.[1][2]

His archrival, Rainey joined the Grand Prix circuit, signing for the Team Roberts-Yamaha squad.[4] For the next six years, the two continued their intense rivalry on race tracks all across Europe.[2]

Mick Doohan (3) leads Schwantz (34), Wayne Rainey (1) and John Kocinski (19) at the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix

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 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.

Schwantz on the Suzuki RGV500 in 1993

He culminated his career in 1993 by winning his 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 Grands 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 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 United States where he competed in the NASCAR Busch Series, running 18 races with two top tens, and touring car races.[1] 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 German architect and circuit designer Hermann Tilke.[8]

Schwantz has operated a riding school since circa 2001 in Birmingham, Alabama.[9]

Other appearances[edit]

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

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

In 2017, he made a guest appearance on Jay Leno's Garage. / Season 3, Episode 10 - Jay Leno’s Garage, CNBC: Wednesday, 8/23/2017, 10P ET/PT

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

By season[edit]

Season Class Motorcycle Team Number Race Win Pod Pole FLap Pts Plcd WCh
1986 500cc Suzuki RG500 Rizla Suzuki 34 4 0 0 0 0 2 22nd
1987 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Heron Suzuki 34 3 0 0 0 0 11 16th
1988 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Pepsi Suzuki 34 14 2 4 0 2 119 8th
1989 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Pepsi Suzuki 34 15 6 9 9 8 162.5 4th
1990 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 15 5 10 7 6 188 2nd
1991 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 14 5 8 5 4 204 3rd
1992 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 12 1 3 1 1 199 4th
1993 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 14 4 11 6 2 248 1st 1
1994 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 11 2 6 1 3 169 4th
1995 500cc Suzuki RGV500 Lucky Strike Suzuki 34 3 0 0 0 0 34 15th
Total 105 25 51 29 26 1236.5 1

By class[edit]

Class Seasons 1st GP 1st Pod 1st Win Race Win Podiums Pole FLap Pts WChmp
500cc 1986–1995 1986 Nederlands 1988 Japan 1988 Japan 105 25 51 29 26 1236.5 1
Total 1986–1995 105 25 51 29 26 1236.5 1

Races by year[edit]

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

Year Class Bike 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pos Pts
1986 500cc Suzuki ESP
NAT
GER
AUT
YUG
NED
Ret
BEL
10
FRA
Ret
GBR
SWE
RSM
10
22nd 2
1987 500cc Suzuki JPN
ESP
5
GER
NAT
8
AUT
YUG
NED
FRA
9
GBR
SWE
CZE
RSM
POR
BRA
ARG
16th 11
1988 500cc Suzuki 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
8th 119
1989 500cc Suzuki 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
4th 162.5
1990 500cc Suzuki 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
2nd 188
1991 500cc Suzuki 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
3rd 204
1992 500cc Suzuki JPN
3
AUS
4
MAL
DNS
ESP
4
ITA
1
EUR
4
GER
2
NED
Ret
HUN
4
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
BRA
7
RSA
5
4th 199
1993 500cc Suzuki 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
1st 248
1994 500cc Suzuki 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
4th 169
1995 500cc Suzuki AUS
5
MAL
4
JPN
6
ESP
GER
ITA
NED
FRA
GBR
CZE
BRA
ARG
EUR
15th 34

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. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. 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. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. 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. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. 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