MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Fuel or Electronics? Where Are Nicky Hayden & Scott Redding Losing Out on the Honda RCV1000R?

The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden – of whom much had been expected, not least by himself – had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. The difference in performance and the big gap to the front has been cause for much speculation. Where are the Honda production racers losing out to the Factory Option bikes?

Q&A: Kevin Schwantz Talks COTA, MotoGP, & the Future of American Road Racing

04/24/2013 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Q&A: Kevin Schwantz Talks COTA, MotoGP, & the Future of American Road Racing kevin schwantz interview jensen beeler 635x422

The Thursday before the start of the Grand Prix of the Americas, Asphalt & Rubber was part of a quick event put on by Dainese and Ducati Austin, which allowed fans to meet Kevin Schwantz. Before the start of that evening’s meet-and-greet, I got to sit down with the former 500cc World Champion, and pick his brain not only about the current events happening with the Circuit of the Americas, but also about what was occurring on a larger scale within the American road racing scene.

While Mr. Schwantz could only provide limited answers about what was going on with the Texan track and his ongoing litigation with the circuit, his opinions on MotoGP and AMA Pro Racing were insightful, and serve as a serious warning about the state of American road racing not only here in the US, but also abroad in the various World Championships. It is a bit of a long read (Mr. Schwantz was more than generous with his time), but I think you will enjoy the exchange and perspective he shared during the interview.

Q: With the Grand Prix of the Americas this weekend, it’s hard to ignore what is going on between you and the Circuit of the Americas. How did things get to the point they are now, and how do you see things progressing as we go forward?

At the risk of sounding immodest, I am the main reason MotoGP is coming to Texas.

I began putting the race together about five years ago, and in early 2011 I signed a contract with Dorna to promote the event. I went on to help Circuit of The Americas [COTA] raise money for the event, and in 2011 I worked hand-in-hand with the Texas state comptroller to build support for MotoGP within the state legislature.

In February of 2011, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta confirmed in writing that my company would be the sole rights holder for MotoGP in Texas through the year 2022.

At my invitation, Mr. Ezpeleta and his associate Javier Alonso visited Austin later that year and met with the comptroller, who is in charge of public funding for the event. I also arranged to have Claude Danis, who was then the grand prix safety officer for Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme [FIM], travel to Austin. He inspected the track site while it was still under construction.

In spite of all my hard work, COTA soon began undermining my relationship with Dorna and my rights to the event. Sadly, my former friends at Dorna eventually turned their backs on me at COTA’s behest and began negotiating directly with COTA. In September of 2012, I was forced to file a legal action against COTA in order to protect my rights.

Since that time, COTA has retaliated by making misleading public statements about me and about the work I did to bring this race to Texas. COTA even had its security guards threaten to remove me from the track during a Honda-sponsored event that I was invited to attend.

I remain MotoGP’s number-one fan, and I still want to see the sport I love come to my home state. I’m sorry to say, however, that I will not be attending Austin’s inaugural MotoGP race. At this point, I am focusing on making my case before a jury and seeing that justice is done.

Q: I don’t think we can talk about your career, without talking about your rivalry with Wayne Rainey. How did that affect your performance on race day? Is that something that drove you to work harder, and was like a carrot in front of you?

You know, it always was. I remember going to a race on Sunday where I maybe had been out-qualified by him [Rainey] by a second, second and a half — I was maybe third row, and he was on pole — and I just thought to myself, “I’m not going to give up until we’re halfway through this race and he’s still kicking my ass and riding away from me.”

Sometimes it was even longer than that, I would push it all the way to the end — just trying to get a few more spots. It’s so funny listening to riders now, “oh yeah, we’ve only got a fourth place bike!” I went to every race with the mindset that even though we sucked in practice, qualifying, and warm-up, and everything, there was something that was going to change. I was going to figure something out, the bike was magically going to get better, something was going to happen, and we were going to find a way to win.

I don’t remember ever sitting on the grid, even from the third row thinking, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here today. I should be at home. This race is going to suck.” Because, every race was a new challenge. I mean, we won from the third row…on numerous occasions. So I kind of give that to Wayne, and I would do the same to him — I’d have a really great weekend, I’d dominate practice and qualifying, and then in the race, second or third turn, up the inside he comes shoving his way past. I’d be like, “hey, that guy was nowhere in practice, how can he be here?!”

I always thought a lot of Wayne’s performance was how good the Yamaha was…until I saw all the clowns ride it after he got off of it, after he quit racing, after he got hurt. I was like, “wow, these bikes really aren’t all that good!” He was the one that kept the Yamaha, and whatever teammate it was, there — he probably didn’t keep Eddie [Lawson] there — but, [John] Kocinski’s, the [Luca] Cadalora’s, all those guys, [Daryl] Beattie’s, the guys that rode with him, he was the center of that team, and he is what kept those Yamaha guys moving, moving, moving, and pushing forward.

Q: Is there something that has changed from then to now that has caused us to lose that in the sport?

Yeah, it is so much more about the equipment now than it is the rider. We see odd occasions like the last race weekend in Qatar, I think Rossi showed that as a rider you can still make a difference, but I’m not sure everybody is willing to try and push the envelope that far. You know, on a 500 you might start a race and have the best bike out there, but as the fuel starts to burn off and the tires go away, and it’s a short rope to the back.

You could also be nowhere at the start of the race, but as the fuel burns off — that seems to have been what happened with the Suzuki — as soon as the fuel burned off and the balance of the bike began to feel better, that’s when I started moving forward and picking people off. It was always, “did I let Wayne get too far out in front of me,” and all I could do was chase to try and close-up the gap?

I think a 500 was such a beast to ride, you know, such a small power delivery. You know when it was right, they were really fun to ride, but 99% of the time they weren’t right, so they weren’t fun very often. So as a rider, you had to learn how to compensate, and how to do things for where you may have missed in the setup. Whether it was gearing, whether it was chassis setup, whether it was suspension, brakes…whatever it might be. You had to always be adapting.

I think Rossi said it best a couple of years ago when he said, “the problem with these bikes is what you start with is what you’re going to have.” It’s going to be that way. They are so electronically controlled that they are just kind of what they are now.

Q: I remember hearing Rossi talk about how their lines are measured more in millimeters than they were in your era, which were measured in feet, and you could have that variation.

I remember Agostini said it once — he watched me race at Spa, and he said, “I stood in one spot the entire weekend, and Schwantz never hit the same line twice, but his lap times never varied very much either. That’s good to see, because there are so many people who think that there’s a perfect line, and unless they hit that, that lap is disastrous.” So I feel like I was always one of those who was trying out different ways to skin the cat, trying out different ways to get around a corner, or over a bump, or around a bend.

Q: Do you think MotoGP is more defined by rivalries, or is it more defined by manufacturers?

It’s still fairly defined by rivalries, but I think it also so much more about the manufacturers right now. It is such a Honda and Yamaha battle right now. We all would love to see the Ducati miraculously find something that gives them half to three-quarters of a second, or find something that’s going to put them right into that mix. They’ve got four great guys riding bikes, and I feel like maybe when Valentino was there they were a little too focused on exactly what Valentino wanted, and didn’t really care about anybody else.

I think now they are going to be able to find answers in so many different areas, and I really thought that in Qatar that maybe Dovi really was going to be kicking Nicky’s ass all weekend long, and possibly all year, like he’s done in some tests. But then to see in the race, they finished 3/10ths of a second apart. I think that’s great. I think once Spies gets a bit more time on the bike, maybe gets some more rehab on his shoulder, and gets his head wrapped around it a bit, then maybe he and Iannone can really help develop that thing.

Q: I know you’ve been with Blake Young a lot with the Attack Racing CRT, can you tell me about the project a bit?

I don’t know a whole lot about the project, it seems like a great opportunity and a great place for Blake. But, I think Blake has never had to do much as far as development goes — he’s always ridden a superbike, so it’s here’s what we got and you can’t do much else with it, we just have to fiddle with the setup — so I think it’s a good experience for him. I think it’s going to open his eyes to how complicated and difficult this next step could possibly be.

I think that the Attack guys, Richard and the whole crew, bust their asses trying to build the best possible thing that they can, but they are a small, small group of people competing against manufacturers. They are kind of backed into a corner. You know, if nothing else, riding a bike that is not great is going to build a lot of character. I think that’s good.

I don’t know that CRT is the direction that MotoGP needs to be headed, but I think that the next year anyways it is a good opportunity for Blake. I’ve seen him ride a GSX-R1000 in a way that I have never really seen many other people ride them, so I know what he’s capable of.

But he is in a way a little like Spies, he has to have his head completely wrapped around it and be 100% on his game, or else it’s tough. Knowing that you’re six, eight, or ten seconds off, I think it’s something that will cause you not to sleep at night. It will have a lot of adverse effects on you.

I know what it did to me when I was a second or a second and a half off. I think Blake is talented, I think he’s fast, and I think this might open a door for him to go ride a World Superbike, British Superbike, or something else. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Q: When you see someone like Blake who has been runner-up in AMA Pro Superbike the past two years, and then have nothing for the year after, how do we as American road racing develop our talent pool and have them go into World Superbike and into MotoGP, and be successful there as well?

I think our talent pool is as deep as it has ever been, but I think the opportunity to get those kids overseas is much more limited by the lack of support by manufacturers in this series. The problem is that DMG is not doing anything to help the manufacturers gain some confidence, and say “hey man, these guys are actually making some good decisions now!”

This series used to be one that was below World Superbike and MotoGP or 500cc Grand Prix racing. This used to be the next championship that people looked to bring riders up from, and it’s not that anymore. It doesn’t get the TV coverage, it just doesn’t have — what it’s mainly missing is manufacturers.

If it had manufacturer involvement, if it had Honda, had Yamaha, had Suzuki, had Kawasaki, had Ducati, had everybody — if it had everybody fighting to win that championship, the level of competition is back, and the level of excitement about this series is back. Since DMG took over, as it seems they have done with every division of racing, whether it be dirt track or road racing, they have not paid much attention to it.

They are not listening to the manufacturers who aren’t involved, they are listening to the one manufacturer who is still prominently involved, and it’s Yamaha. Anytime they veer from the path that Yamaha says is correct, Yamaha’s threat is that “we’ll stop racing! We’ll just stop racing. This series will be nothing without us.” No, it will just be missing one manufacturer’s truck, two superbikes, and two 600′s. I think Graves would still be racing.

We just need manufacturer support, because it’s those people in the big scheme of things, it’s an American racing in a World Championship, dominating races, and all that excitement is what makes dealerships like this, or the one next door, sell the shit out of motorcycles. There would be excitement around American road racing, and sport bikes would be sailing out the door, because whoever is racing overseas on a Suzuki or whatever it might be.

Some of what I had planned to do as the promoter of this grand prix this weekend, was to take some of the money I was going to make to be able to friggin’ start funding some kids! Because three races in America will never work unless we get kids in every class.

Right now we have three competitors in MotoGP, and none in any other World Championship series! Not World Superbike, not Supersport, not Superstock, not Moto2, not Moto3, we’ve got two kids in the Red Bull Rookies Cup and that’s it. If the Spanish [Dorna] feel like this is a place they want to keep three races, that better start finding a way to keep Americans in the classes, because it will never work without excitement in every class.

Q: When you look down the pipe too, there is almost a generational gap that is unaccounted for between Nicky and Ben and then what’s coming through with the Rookies Cup and the AMA. There’s almost a ten-year drought that’s coming through.

Huge. On top of the ten years we’ve already had, well it’s only six or seven years [Since Hayden's MotoGP Championship win].

Q: What are your thoughts on Honda providing a production racer bike, and Yamaha leasing motors to teams, does that do anything to really improve what MotoGP is delivering for the fans, or is it just a stop-gap and a slightly improved CRT-solution?

I think it’s just a better solution for CRT. As we continue to see, Cal Crutchlow running around chasing Hondas all-night long in Qatar, and then Rossi runs right by him. Vale got a better run off the corner than Crutchlow did, but there needs to be more manufacturers involved.

There is a bit to blame with the economy, but until you have the Ducati’s beating on the front door, and you’ve got some Suzuki’s back there, until you get some more manufacturers in there to mix it up, you basically have two guys and the Spanish controlling the racing.

If Dorna had any real interest in trying to help what the series was all about they would be making sure there was a Moto2 series here in America. “We’ve got one in Spain, that’s all that matters to us.” It’s like they want to have their hand on everyone, and have absolute control on everything, and that works as long as you’re someone close by in Spain, but it’s not easy for us.

Q: Do you feel like Dorna isn’t as inclusive enough in the way they run the MotoGP Championship?

I think they understand that the best thing about racing is that it’s everybody competing at that level, and I think they have just gotten too focused on what their business model is, and what they want and what they think is good for the sport. But they haven’t really figured out an answer, at least not that I’ve read about or heard about, that is going to help the sport take back off in the world. They raced what? Three times in Spain, and once in Portugal? Twice in Italy?

Someone asked me, “can you support three races in America?” We’re 2,500 miles across this country! They race 15 times in less than a 1,000 mile radius! I said of course we can support three races, but we need excitement about the series. As an American you’re going to make it to one, maybe two races, but if you had kids in every class, you’ll probably try and make it to all three. There could be a chance that you could hear the national anthem three times on the weekend, and it’s great, it’s exciting, but…

Q: Is that the hook really to get Americans who are outside of motorcycling hooked on MotoGP? That possibility of hearing the Star Spangled Banner during the podium ceremony?

Absolutely. Even if the product you sell, that you want to help sponsor this event with, even if it’s not manufactured in America but you sell a lot of it here, to hear the Stars and Stripes, and to see the excitement, and to see the name of the company on the kid’s chest, and on the side of his bike, and on television, and all the exposure. It’s just like superbike racing in that, win on Sunday sell on Monday.

It’s that exposure. It’s that pride as Americans, we’ve got so friggin’ much of it, sometimes to our demise, but we love to help support things that are winners. Until we get that opportunity to have some kids out there and racing.

I think the Rookies Cup is a great program, and I think it’s proven, in ’08 the kids I coached here in the US, a lot of those kids are winning Daytona SportBike races, and Superpsort races, depending on what age group they are in. But man, the future that you have to look at, “where do the guys go in front of me?” Well, they’re not really going anywhere. They’re just kind of stuck where you’re at, instead of having that support.

When I raced in ’86 I went and did three grands prix each year, and Suzuki was very supportive of that. They were supportive of it, because Japan said, “hey we see this kid you’ve got, we want him, we need him, we’re going to get back involved in grand prix racing.” That’s what you need.

You need the American divisions to support the national series, and then to start seeing that they have some real talent up-and-coming, and then have the Japanese management say, “by the way, in two years, he’s ours.” As a racer here then in America, you’re jumping at every opportunity to go to Europe and do some racing. Now that would be Moto3, Moto3, MototGP, or whatever it might be.

[Mat] Mladin said it three or four years, he goes “you know, to be an 18-year-old kid right now here in AMA, and man this is my future, that’s pretty bleak.”

Q: Are there any riders coming up through the ranks that you keep your eye on, and that you see as being a real talent?

You know there’s a young kid right now that’s just waiting to turn 16 to do some AMA racing, and he’s Nick McFadden. I think Nick had a huge, huge, huge future ahead of him. A little older than him, we have Jake Gagne, Benny Solis…Cameron Beaubier!…I mean, he’s going to end-up spending his life here racing 600cc supersport, or eventually in American superbike, if he can’t find a way to get out.

That’s the problem, this series at one point was so important that there was enough money being made here that you didn’t really want to go do anything else. Now, there is not that much money here, but a lot of times, whether it’s the guys like Mr. Ulrich or Graves, they put you under such a long contract that you’re here for the next five years, and you can’t do it!

You can’t expect someone to be able to go to Europe at 22-years-old and catch up with the friggin’ Europeans, who have been racing those tracks since they were 16-years-old. It will never happen. We’re not that good. We need to at least be given the same shot as the Euros, and I didn’t go to Europe until ’86, I was 22, by the time I got there full-time I was 24-years-old. That’s way too late to be there right now.

Maybe not way too late, but you have to be there at least when you’re 22. But you have to spend a year learning the tracks and the new equipment. Now you’re 25, and shit you haven’t really done anything yet. You don’t have a very long chance nowadays. It’s the tracks that are all the difficult to learn, but the bikes have gotten so complicated electronically with setups, maps, and this and that, and if you don’t get a dry session all four sessions…it’s tough.

Q: What singular piece of advice would you give to upcoming riders?

National Championship or World Championship, what sounds more important? For me, as bad as it sounds, “it’s get out of America, go race somewhere else.” I don’t think Australia quite has the series that the AMA used to be, but British Superbike…many of those national Championships in Europe still have big transporters and things.

There may not be huge dollars there, but at least they have support and commitment from the manufacturers. They’re still racing and still realize, as it is here in America, that if you do well on Sunday it more than likely means bike sales on Monday. As a young riders, it’s such a big step to make, because you’re 16, 17, 18-years-old, whatever it might be, and then have to say, “I’ve got to get to Europe.”

Talk to some of the guys who are older than you, and find out who you can go talk to, families you can go spend the summer with…just try and get some exposure over there. Even if it’s not the best bike, 90% of the people that matter know what the level is of the equipment you’re riding.

If you’re beating your head against the tank, trying to get bike into the Top 10, and you get 7th or 8th place, everybody will be like “wow, that was impressive,” even though you were nowhere near the front or leading the race. Most of the people that are important can tell by watching a rider ride. The eyes they have are good enough to be able to say, keep an eye on that kid, he’s going somewhere.

Q: My last question, sort of blankly, what keeps you up at night?

You know, probably more than anything right now, trying to figure out what the track [COTA] is doing. Maybe just why they felt the need to treat me the way they have. Because besides my lawsuit with those guys, I’ve really got nothing that keeps me up at night, except the fact that I’m really, really disappointed with where we are as a country in World Championship racing.

Like I said, part of my intentions in promoting that race was that I was going to stack some kids in Moto3 and Moto2. I was going to go to KTM and say “I need to buy two of those bikes, and I need you guys to support me in these two American rounds we’re going to have.” I was going to try and elevate it to help everything. What we have in MotoGP, that’s what everyone looks at, but it’s like you said, it’s the next 10 years, it’s what we have coming down the pipeline.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. KFG says:

    Great read! Schwantz is a class act in my book!

  2. CTK says:

    Great great stuff. I hope he wins his case. Dorna does seem to have their heads up their asses and I don’t think he would put his reputation on the line like this if he wasn’t really due something.

    The international disconnect and lack of training in the US is another real issue. MotoGP is definitely a Spanish game. To be fair though, and I could be completely off base, but it seems like motorcycling is down in general in the US, especially for younger guys. The prospect of owning + riding a motorcycle, let alone doing track days, let alone RACING seems like a daunting undertaking for young Americans facing unemployment and a stagnant economy, with no kind of guiding organizations to help nudge them along. So there is a huge cultural change that has to happen that goes way way way beyond MotoGP. We do have the tracks though and I think we have the money and the talent. We just need the structure and the interest that a country like Spain has.

    Maybe Buell needs to build a prototype hahahahaha.

  3. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Schwantz-a hero to the sport. Absolute favorite.

    I hope to see him at Laguna.

    Great interview. I loved his comments about sucking the whole weekend, starting 3rd row on the grid and having100% confidence he can find something in the race and win it. Riders today don’t have that anymore…except Hayden.

  4. paulus - Thailand says:

    Great interview.

  5. bemer2six says:

    I remember Kevin’s involvement with this project (COTA) when they first broke ground a few years back, then they all just seem to turn on him. I do hope he wins out. just doesn’t seem right what they are doing. as for the rest of the interview its a great insight as to what a young rider might have to do to get in to Motogp…

  6. ” I loved his comments about sucking the whole weekend, starting 3rd row on the grid and having100% confidence he can find something in the race and win it.”

    Yeah. His thinking is that of a world champion. He definitely walks the walk.

  7. L2C says:

    @ Chaz Michael Michaels, Trane Franks

    Yes, that comment probably has a lot of fans, including me.

    Great interview, JB. Thanks, I enjoyed it very much.

  8. smiler says:

    3 incisive comments:

    In spite of all my hard work, COTA soon began undermining my relationship with Dorna

    it is so much more about the equipment now than it is the rider

    the problem with these bikes is what you start with is what you’re going to have

    Perhaps Dorna should listen to those that race…..If they wish to reduce costs, reduce the electronics.

  9. Alasdair says:

    That was a fantastic read. Kudos to Mr Schwantz for given his time, kudos to asphaltandrubber.com for the great questions and getting the interview. I hope the COTA suit is amicably sorted by both parties. I live in Australia and whilst I probably won’t get as much out of the AMA stuff the points raised were valid, as outside of World Superbike and MotoGP, it’s British Superbike and IDM that seems to get all the press outside of the local motorbike mags.

  10. tonyw says:

    Fantastic article and I wish all the best to Kevin Schwantz. I got to meet him at Ducati Austin on the Thursday before the race and he really is a class act!

  11. “If they wish to reduce costs, reduce the electronics.”

    Yeah, I completely agree. That’s one thing that F1 has over MotoGP: No traction control or ABS allowed. Even engine maps that mimic TC are against the regulations in F1. (Ask Red Bull about that one.)

  12. Gritboy says:

    Kevin’s speaking so REAL truth: the state of moto roadracing is gloomy, but especially here in the U.S. AMA, WSBK and MotoGP need to find ways to build excitement not just by getting manufacturers on board, but getting fans to the tracks. Television coverage is so-so here in the U.S. I’m please CBS Sports is covering AMA, but wish WSBK and MotoGP were on the big networks (SPEED and BeIN not so good). Go to a race in Europe and it’s packed… go here in the States and it’s like you’re a at little game regarding attendance.

  13. KK says:

    Its so true these days. if you cant find a set up for your bike that works, they just settle for waht they got.

    Like lorenzo at COTA. BAsically he says “my bike wasnt good enough so i just hang back here in 3rd and take what i can get. BS. to me a true champion pushes his shit until the tires fall off.

    Kevin said ti best. no matter what row you start on. you go for the win. period.

    This whole backing off cuz i my bike isnt as spot on as theirs is exhausting to hear these days.

    and to see rossi fight back at Qatar is what racing is all about. If your bikes breaks arnt biting quite as hard . FIGURE IT OUT! MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    id rather see lorenzo crash out catching and fighting 1-2 then site back and relax. hes got 2 championships under his belt. go balls to the wall at this point show ppl what you can do when the going gets tough.
    KEVIN FOR PRESIDENT

  14. “if you cant find a set up for your bike that works, they just settle for waht they got.”

    I think you missed the part where the electronics get in the way of being able to really ride around the problem. The point The Schwantz made wasn’t that riders today just settle, it was that the electronics pretty much leave the rider stuck with the bike needing to be ridden a certain way. If the bike isn’t right for the race, there’s not much the rider can do to ride around the problem. It’s why Moto2 bikes have the potential for so many different fast lines around the track versus the single-file line in MotoGP. The bikes are just razor-sharp, unforgiving and demand to be ridden a certain way to be fast.

    TC, anti-wheelie control and the like are all features driven by the manufacturers. The riders, as far as I know and am concerned, would prefer to be without all the gizmos and just ride.

    “to me a true champion pushes his shit until the tires fall off.”

    Unfortunately, MotoGP bikes don’t respect that line of thinking anymore. The champions in MotoGP these days are the guys who learn to finesse the bike and its electronics such that they just miss the point of being spit off. Unfortunately for the show, gone are the days of Garry McCoy being more sideways in the corners than wheels-in-line. It’s time for MotoGP to return to put more emphasis on the riders and teams than on the bikes.

  15. Norm G. says:

    re: “At the risk of sounding immodest, I am the main reason MotoGP is coming to Texas.”

    immodes shimodest. sometimes ya gotta toot your own horn. NOW is one of those times.

  16. Norm G. says:

    re: “This whole backing off cuz i my bike isnt as spot on as theirs is exhausting to hear these days.”

    i encourage you to embrace and become one with the law of NATCORK… No Amount of Talent Can Overcome Recalcitrant Kit.

  17. Ken W. says:

    Great, insightful look into the future of American Road Racing.

  18. Larry C says:

    As always Kevin is spot on. I hope that DMG will read this great interview and begin listening to people like Kevin who know and understand the sport.

  19. “As always Kevin is spot on.”

    I’d have to reduce that to “as usual” due to Kevin’s recent off-the-mark commentary about Dani Pedrosa and Alberto Puig. Kevin obviously has a right to opinion, but I thought his comments were sophomoric at best. Puig, like him or not, basically pwned K34 with his rejoinder.

    This was a great interview with Schwantz, but with his Pedrosa/Puig commentary, my estimation of the man dropped a couple of notches.

  20. I think a thoughtful and sincere piece of conversation. Sad to see Kevin`s school go, we were looking forward to get in some Moriwaki time for my son this year. Spot on about the future of American representation abroad in racing.. a ten year gap is along time. Not knowing how it all works what will it take to re-light a 250gp class in the AMA again? Perhaps the recent deal with CBS and the AMA will help. A special segment highlighting where the current racers come from would be great. Bring a film crew to the kart tracks, WERA, USGPRU, etc.. Highlight a few kids, show America who they are. I know at least a half dozen passionate fast kids who in addition to having a ton of talent, are honor students, Boy Scouts, and community volunteers.
    I am for anything contributing to changing the public stereotype notion of motorcyclists and racers in this county and growing the sport. I will try to help my son make it to Europe in a few more years but we would sure love to earn our spot in Moto 3 beginning here if we we can.

  21. breza says:

    Straightforward, smart, simple… as a best 500 cc rider of all times or in an interview. KS34 is the “Right Stuff” of motorcycling, something that’s missing these days. That’s why he still is the icon around the world, including Croatia… Best of luck Kev, destroy the Spanish Inquisition…

  22. Norm G. says:

    re: “This was a great interview with Schwantz, but with his Pedrosa/Puig commentary, my estimation of the man dropped a couple of notches.”

    if roberts or doohan made the comment out of the blue, how would you feel then…? i think some are being extra critical of schwantz at the moment for no other reason than his association with a topical controversy, not because what he said was lacking merit.

    Q: did he say anything that the masses hadn’t already thought and had BEEN thinking…?

    A: no.

  23. “if roberts or doohan made the comment out of the blue, how would you feel then…?”

    They’d drop in my estimation, too. I didn’t feel Schwantz’s comments were inappropriate because it was Schwantz who said them. They were simply baseless and not at all aligned with the facts as anybody can independently verify.

    “Q: did he say anything that the masses hadn’t already thought and had BEEN thinking…?”

    I certainly hadn’t been thinking that Puig was holding Pedrosa back or that Puig’s mentoring career basically amounted to sweet bugger all. So, in point of fact, Schwantz certainly said something that this ‘mass’ hadn’t ever thought. I’m in agreement that Pedrosa may be running out of opportunities to win a premier-class title, but I certainly wouldn’t think that Puig is in any way to blame for that. Circumstances, injury and mistakes all contributed to Pedrosa being just out of reach.

    Another poster put it aptly in a comment on another article that Schwantz and Puig were acting like middle-aged men hitting each other with handbags. I LOLed.

  24. NoMo MotoGP for Me says:

    Growing up, I got interested/influenced in sports I watched on TV and sports my family got involved with. Wide World of Sports would show skiing, so we got interested and learned how to ski. My cousins all played baseball and wrestled, so I was interested in doing the same. WWS showed motorcycle riding on ice, we got interested in riding motorcycles and building and racing BMX. The coverage for MotoGP is very poor in the US. SPEED jams it in between all their really bad programming, another auto auction, and infomercials every couple of weeks. If I am Dorna, I want a US partner that gives me more air time, not a programming partner that acts like they are doing me a favor. I would also get another track on the east coast to host a race, not sure that is even possible. But at the end of the day, the product is pretty boring these days, not much excitement as it seems half or more than half the field is not even competitive in the races.