Q. I've heard you now play golf. Tell me it's not true. And this is some way some show that you're taking racing more seriously?
A. I do play golf but yeah, I have been taking my racing more serious now that I am the number one rider, I thought it was time, you know, to get more serious. It's a very important year for me. I'm pretty sure we're going to go to Europe next year for the World Superbike series. We're right down to the edge of getting something set and if I have a good year this year(It will help). We need some luck in these next couple of races and we'll be fine. I'm down nine points right now.
Q. You're managed by Gary Howard now, correct? How did that happen?
A. I got hooked up with Gary Howard through a couple of friends I know here, a guy I'm working with by the name of Tom Shehee. He knew some people who knew Gary and it went from there. We talked in 1989 and something happened that didn't work out but we started working together again in 1990. He basically handles everything, sponsor negotiations.. everything. I've gotten so much from the helmet and leather sponsors (since he and Howard began working together) that I don't think I would have negotiated as well myself I know for sure. It's not just that he does, he does everything. He handles all of the tax work and all that stuff, it's a big package deal. It's worth it. I think it will lead to something. It's just a matter of me doing my job and it should come to me. There's a lot of guys out there who can ride real good and they never get that chance because they're not hooked up with the right people. It's a small deal and it is so hard to get good rides these days you just got to know the right people. I'm there I just got to keep riding.
Q. Are you looking forward to Europe? Your team owner, Rob Muzzy, is not a huge fan of Europe.
A. Oh yeah, I'm really looking forward to going to Europe, I've wanted to go for the past couple of years. I don't think I was ready to go but I think I am now. Yeah it's a good format. I like the way the races are run in two legs and at each event you got some pretty decent practice time because at the AMA stuff it's kind of tough because you are sharing the track with seven or eight other classes and you know how it goes. You just don't get the track time that you need.
With Superbike being the premier class over there, it really is and you're treated like that. The new tracks will be something to deal with but I've always seemed to pick up on new tracks pretty easy but I'm looking forward to it, I think we'll have a real good year.
Q. Are you saving your money?
A. Financially is the way I'm starting to look at racing. How much money I'm going to be able to make in the shortest period of time because I'm not getting any younger, so we feel this is the right step in my career. It wouldn't be good for me to go jump on a 500, which we could probably get a ride on one next year. Chandler did that and he's doing OK I guess, but it's just not the way we want to go right now.
Q. Let's discuss other riders. What are the strong points and weak points of some of your rivcals.
Freddie Spencer. I'm not sure what Freddie's weak points are, maybe his equipment isn't as good as some of the others, I'm not sure that's the case either. His strong points are that he has been there before and he knows every end of it, you know? What it takes to go fast and be a champion, that's what he has going for him for sure. I think he is not under any pressure, he's just out there doing it, having some fun racing. He probably hasn't been able to do that in a long time. Because I know for me it has gotten more serious than it is fun, I still enjoy it, don't get me wrong. It's like you have to do good and if I don't.... Anyway, having Freddie around is really good and I enjoy it because he was my hero when I first started racing. I wasn't even into roadracing at all until 1985, I didn't know anything about it. I went to Daytona and watched Freddie win all three classes that he ran, I watched him from then on in Europe, he was my favorite racer so it felt good to stand up on the podium next to him at Kansas. I had been waiting for that moment for a while. He's not a real talkative guy, he doesn't walk around the pits talking to everybody like some of us do. I finally got to start talking to him over in England when we went to the Match Races and he is real nice, I like talking to him.
Miguel. DuHamuel is really fast and aggressive, he rides really well. He slides the bike well and is really a hard charger and that is what he has going for him, that's what it takes you have to ride the thing on the ragged edge these days. That's the way he was riding at Topeka and I don't really know that I was really letting it all hang out like I needed to but he was definitely doing that. From what I've seen, I've only raced with the guy a couple of years now, he rides, I think he gets in over his head every now and then from what I've seen. I wasn't right behind him at Topeka , I was a little ways back but I was watching what was going on up there. It looked like he just ran it up under the inside and got in a panic, thinking I was going to gain all this time back on him, if he would have waited and got the guy on the exit of the corner. Turn three is kind of a turn where you get in there hot and it pushes you out about mid track. You always pull it down tight on the exit and that looked like what this guy had done, this slower guy. He saw that opening and he was going to go for it and he was coming around three quarters of the corner and the gut started pulling it down.
The guy was racing with another rider right in front of him so he wasn't paying attention to whoever was behind him for sure.
He (DuHamel)just ran it in there and tagged the guy, I couldn't belive he did it. He didn't look at his pit board because he probably had two seconds on me by that point. He just panicked. He wasn't patient and it cost him.
Thomas Stevens. Thomas is riding really consistent, he's always been really good. I don't know what his weak points are, maybe motivation. I don't know these guys that well. I didn't mean for some of that in the Kansas paper to sound like it did, the way it came out. I just said I didn't think he has ridden that well except for Mid Ohio. I guess well means up front, one or two to me. That doesn't mean he isn't riding good, to me it means he wasn't right there in the hunt, he's just been consistent. I think I should have re- worded some of that but I'm not going to worry about it. If it got him fired up that's good. Maybe that's what he needs. I don't know what happened to him at Topeka, like I said he seems hot and cold to me, he'll ride good one week and the next week he'll be around in fourth or third or fifth or whatever.
Q. You'll go down in history as the undisputed king of 750 Supersport racing. But do you really want to race the class?
A. Yeah, I wish I would have basically concentrated on Superbike because (750 Supersport) is kind of a drag. I've been doing this too long, I don't get that much out of it anymore, like winning a championship or a race wasn't that rewarding to me but because of the lack of competition in the field ...
I mean, I don't know what these guys think, like my bike is just faster than theirs or what but it's not. That's not the case. There just isn't that many guys running in the front anymore. It's not helping it anyhow (Superbike) I don't think. I don't spend that much time on the bike, I spend the least amount of time on the thing. I just try to concentrate as much as I can on Superbike.
Now I can for sure just put it on the back burner. I'm going to go out and run them and try and set a record of winning every race, that will be something that might last awhile in the record books. Also most of them have been a run away and probably not that fun to watch as far as the race goes. I'm going to see if I'm as fast or that much faster than everybody else at the next two, I'm going to try and make a race out of it for the most part, make it look exciting like it used to be.
It is tough going from the DOT tires to the slicks and from the slicks to the DOT's because you can push them so far and then they are history, they just don't hang in there. They're good, they've come a long way with them but...they're...you ride that Supersport bike and it's heavier and the tires want to, you know, slide around more and I just don't have much confidence in them I guess.
Q. What was your first race bike?
A. I started on a GPz550 on the street and I raced a Ninja 600 back in 86. I thought it was pretty cool, a lot different from the street. Paul Bray and I used to ride together and we'd find a damn neighborhood where nobody was at and practice two or three corners and we'd stop and watch each other through these corners. Try to slide the thing..get low in the corner and try and get through there good. We worked at it pretty hard I think, that's why we did so good when we first started.