Rob Muzzy: 1993
(author note: This interview was
never published. Muzzy's comments on potentially losing Scott Russell,
and his thoughts on then Muzzy Kawasaki rider Thomas Stevens are read here
for the first time.)
by Dean Adams
Q. Lets hear the Suzuka experience
as lived by Rob Muzzy (Muzzy Kawasaki riders Scott Russell and Aaron Slight
had just won Kawasaki's first eight hour)
A. There really isn't that much to
say, everything went really perfect. It was an uneventful race really in
the fact that there was really no problems. We felt we had a good chance,
before the race and in practice and qualifying. Our goal was to ride our
own race and just try to be there at the finish.
So we had planned ahead of time to
not really that if the Honda guys tried to make a run, to not chase them,
to basically let them go, just to stay in sight of them. Essentially that's
how it went, Scott got a really good start and lead the first few laps
but the Honda guys all got by him one or two at a time and he fell in line
and kind of rode around with them. And one by one they began falling down
or falling out for one reason or another. Then we got down to mid-point
in the race somewhere and at that time it looked like it was between us
and the Yamaha team with Nagai. Actually we were ahead of them but we realized
that they were one gas stop ahead of us, they weren't going to have to
do a gas stop at the end that we would have to do. So at that point we
realized that we had to make some time over them so we started calculating
from our gas stop and at that time we were thirty-six seconds behind. After
the gas stop. We whittled that down to about five seconds and then they
had mechanical difficulties. So they were out and at that point all we
had to do was finish without making a mistake and that's what we did.
My first experience at Suzuka was
really bad. (laughs) the first time I went to Suzuka was with Chandler
and Russell in 1990. I have always stayed away from that stuff, even when
Eddie went over in 1980 or 1979 and then when Wes Cooley went in 1983,
I never went. I've never really had much interest in it, over there. So
as I said my first time at Suzuka was in 1990 with Russell and Chandler,
and that is when I realized how hard the Suzuka eight hour really is because
we went over there and struggled like most guys; but with two really good
guys and none of us could hit our butt with either hand. So that was a
real horrible experience, Scott crashed in the second hour and luckily
that cut the pain short. We went with Scott and Thomas last year and it
was a bit better. But again, Thomas crashed the bike but we finished, which
we thought was a major accomplishment, I mean at least we got through the
thing. So this year was quite different and much more appreciated. But
you know, it's like anything else. It's like doing good at Daytona or doing
bad at Daytona, it's all a matter of preparation. Suzuka or Daytona are
very difficult races and you don't go there with a new bike or a half assed
effort. It's a tough, tough race and if you are not prepared beyond perfection
you don't have much likelihood of winning unless it is the year that everyone
falls down or does something stupid. As I've always said, the guy who wins
Daytona is the first fast team that finishes, Suzuka is the same deal.
Q. How was your mood through the
race, do you go through the highs and lows like everyone else or do you
keep it all on a even keel?
A. I've been to too many of these
things, and there is no sense in getting real excited one way or another
because anything can happen. You can be way ahead and not finish or you
can be way behind and win, so I just kept note of all of the possibilities
that I thought could happen and as I said each one of the ones that appeared
to be a serious threat to us ultimately feel by the wayside. Until we got
down to the point that there was nobody to race but ourselves, just us
and what could happen to us. At that point that's where you always get
a little more nervous, because now we've got this if - if the thing doesn't
quit, if they don't crash, if someone else doesn't run into them etceteras.
So at that point it got a little bit, anxious shall I say and I just wanted
it to be over with. Basically the guys did just an excellent job, both
riders and crew, and we won.
Q. This was Kawasaki's first eight
hour win. I know after you and Scott won Daytona in 1992 that a commemoration
was given, you met with the president of Kawasaki America and other things.
What happened with this win post race?
A. There wasn't any response from
high up at KHI. I think they were busy having their own party wherever
they were. Those guys don't come down into the pits to watch the races.
The people that were in our pit area and members of the team and management
were quite excited and we certainly celebrated. As far as top management
goes I didn't see them after the race but I was told they were quite excited
and I expect that there will be some type of formal recognition of the
win, which is typical.
Q. What is your deal with Scott
Russell, do you have him in an extended contract or ...
A. No this is it, his contract will
end this year. I can't predict what is going to happen from there because
that depends on to many factors that I don't have control over, but obviously
my hope and Kawasaki's hope is that he will continue his relationship with
us. But that just depends on what opportunities are presented to him and
the ability of Kawasaki to present a financial package that meets with
Scott's approval. Obviously Scott is now elevated to the top level I think
and probably ready to do whatever he wants to do. I don't think Scott is
going to take a lessor position or ride a lessor quality team's machines.
I guess what I am trying to say is that my opinion is, my feeling is, he
would only make a change to GP or another Superbike team for obvious reasons,
those being it is financially better for him from a business standpoint
or he felt it was a better opportunity. My hope is that as big cigarette
sponsored GP teams go that we don't have to compete. That's my hope. Not
for him but from my side of it because we couldn't compete with Marlboro
or Chesterfields or Lucky Strike. But on any other level we're prepared
Q. You seem to get left at the
church steps a lot. Riders come to your team as unknowns and you help them achieve
greatness and then they leave for greener pastures. Have you grown used
to that yet?
A. Well, I've been happy for all
those guys, they've all gone on to more lucrative and successful careers
and they earned the right to do that. I'm just happy to have had the opportunity
to become involved with guys like them, riders of that caliber. It's the
same thing with Scott. Scott has reached the same level now too. I hope
this time, for Kawasaki and for myself, that we're able to keep him. But
it's not something that I have control over and it's not necessarily something
that Kawasaki has control over because there is limitations to everything
and I don't know that Kawasaki is in a position to try to out bid say someone
like Marlboro. That hasn't been the case anywhere else. The only reason
these guys that make these phenomenal numbers that you hear about, it has
nothing to do with Honda or Suzuki, it has to do with Marlboro and Rothmans.
That's what I'm trying to say, that my hope is, although I wish Scott well,
I think it would be really nice for Kawasaki to be able to compete at the
world level with a top rider. I think that Scott has a number of years
of success ahead of him. So I hope there is no vacancy in any of the big
cigarette teams. If they do I don't see how Kawasaki can compete financially.
It's that simple.
Q. He has professed that would
like to stay with Kawasaki and the Muzzy team.
A. I think that Scott has to consider
that a motorcycle racer does not have a really long lengthy career so the
guy has to look for financial security and either make big numbers for
a short time or whatever the case may be. Yeah I see what you're saying,
Scott is a much more loyal rider and loyal person, I think than most of
the other riders I've dealt with. I don't mean that to criticize the other
guys but certainly it is something to appreciate. I think that providing
there is not some great big magic number out there, I think that Scott
would choose to stay with Kawasaki, they've treated them very well and
he has treated them well and there is quite a relationship there. It's
like Kenny can say whatever he wants but, he's spent his entire career
with Yamaha. And that is something to be admired, I think it has served
him well. And who knows, maybe if Scott stays with Kawasaki for his racing
career then when he quits then perhaps he'll take my job.
Q. There is talk that the AMA
may move their rules closer to that of the WSC. What do you think of that?
A. I'm in favor of it, I'd like to
see them adopt the complete WSC rules for 1994. For two reasons: one it
will mean that the American's will be more prepared to race when WSC returns
to America. Number two, it means that the Europeans that come to Daytona
will be better prepared to race at Daytona. In other words now the problem
is that now the Europeans come with WSC spec equipment and race American
spec bikes at a disadvantage. Then the problem is that when WSC racing
returns to America and I'm sure it will, the American's would have to change
their equipment from American spec stuff to something they don't normally
race. So it will be better for every one, it'll make a better Daytona race
and it will make better WSC racing.
Q. How's the health?
A. I feel fine. Right now I'm having
a little problem trying to figure out which part of the day I'm supposed
to sleep in but other than that I feel fine. Is it better than say a year
ago? Yeah I think so, I don't know why. I think attitude is a big part
of it. I knew this year that I had a whole year to do so there is no sense
worrying about the fact that I see my wife a couple times a month, a couple
days a month I should say, and the problems of work. I've got some good
people running the exhaust system company that are doing a really good
job so that takes that pressure off of me and we've got a couple of good
managers on the race team. So the reality of it is that I'm doing more
travel and what have you than ever before, doing more races than ever before
but I think the stress in reality is less.
We kind of create our own problems,
so to speak, the more you worry about something the more you make an issue
out of it the more stressed you are. So at the beginning of the year I
kind of figured, it's going to be a bitch so why worry about it?
Q. It's almost redundant but lets
hear your thoughts on Ferracci Ducati's Doug Polen and his success in 1993.
Unfair advantage or ...
A. You see, it is easier for me because
I see a different view than the American's see, in the fact that we race
a whole lot of Ducatis, there's ten or more at any race we enter in Europe.
I feel and I do think that the results prove it that the Ducati does have
an unfair advantage. I don't think anyone at this point is going to argue
that point. There is a point to change the weight regulations in World
Superbike racing. Nothing has been ratified yet, nothing is carved in stone
but there is a format that is on the table as I understand it that raises
the twin cylinders by five kilos and lowers the four cylinders by five
kilos. Whether that is going to be enough to bring reasonable equality
we won't know. My guess is it is not, and I say that because rarely do
Ducatis come in at minimum weight. Generally speaking they already come
to the grid five kilos overweight. So it will have no affect on the Ducati,
it will run just like it does now in weight and it will only allow the
four cylinders to come down five kilos in weight. So I don't think that
is enough, in reality the Ducati will be the same as it is now and they're
only giving four pounds to the four cylinder bikes, I don't think that
is enough. I think it should be at least t kilos and more than likely ten
kilos. I think the original plan was the best: lowering the four cylinder
bikes ten kilos. But whatever they do will be better than it is now.
As far as America goes, I don't think
anybody should have any trouble understanding what's happening here: We
have a guy who has won the world championship two years in a row, on the
same motorcycles and on the same team. So there is no reason why he shouldn't
be as good as he has been the last two years, he's the best guy in the
world. Why should you expect him to come here and do worse?
Q. The American segment of your
team has not been as successful as years past, are you content that this
was a building year and leaving it at that?
A. Well, this again, is for obvious
reasons. We took our best guy and took him away from America and put him
in WSC racing full time, and there he is doing quite well. I think if we
brought him back he would do quite well also. What you would have then
is a two man race instead of a one man race. I'm not going to predict who
would win, I don't know. But certainly it wouldn't be the same as it would
now. Am I happy with the way things have progressed since I split it into
two teams? No. (Laughs) Frankly I expected better results than we're getting,
I don't really know exactly what's wrong, it's always tough when you're
not there to be overly critical. so I'm trying to put my finger on what
or where somewhere along the line we're failing to get the job done. I
can't tell you right this minute what the problem is.
I brought Scott back at Loudon just
to more or less re-confirm to the American riders that it was not a problem
with the motorcycle. I think he did that .. quite well. So we have to look
at the fact that maybe we're not providing the right kind of support to
the riders in morale or helping them get their bike set up to where they're
comfortable, I 'm not sure what the problem is. But there is a problem.
I know that both of the riders are capable of performing better than they
are. I don't have the answer right now. Unfortunately I'm not sure I'm
going to have the time to find out, which is one of the sacrifices. I guess
what's happened is we took our best rider to another area and I've gone
to another area so what we have is a team made up that is less efficient
than what we have had in the past. And we're seeing the results of that.
Q. Do you ever see the time when
you will only have a WSC team and not an American team?
A. No, never. The World Superbike
thing, I've had opportunities my entire career to go to Europe and I have
always turned them down. I only became interested in WSC when it became
in my mind a step above American racing and a new challenge. And the fact
that I'm not going to race forever or let me re-phrase that to a lot more
years. I decided that before I quit I wanted to win the World Championship,
it became something important for me to do and there wasn't a lot of time
left. Anyway I decided I wanted to do it before I retired. That's my goal,
whether it's this year or next or whenever I'd like to win the WSC championship.
Then I will feel that I've accomplished in my field as much as I could
have. Probably by that time I'll be ready to hang it up I don't know.
Q. Hah! You really think you can
just walk away from roadracing?
A. Well ..no ..I don't think we're
talking about in the next year or two anyway so I don't have to make that
decision. But at least I think we could win the world championship, but
if we do I have no intention of quitting immediately after that. Getting
back to your question, yes there will be the time when I quit from racing.
I don't see myself here at eighty years of age, one cannot go on forever.
The time will come when I will personally leave racing but up until that
time I hope to be involved in American racing. To me the WSC thing is a
full time challenge now but it is not a long term .. I don't .. I'm not
going to race WSC until the day I quit. I want to win a WSC. If Scott does
stay with us I have made a commitment to stay involved with it until he
is not involved. But other than that America is my primary concern and
I'll always have a great interest. Obviously things aren't working exactly
as I'd planned for the American team this year. I need to find out where
the problems are and I need to correct them for next year because I don't
like coming here and not winning. I'm a poor loser.
Q. How has Rob Muzzy acclimated
to the European experience?
A. That was the reason we did some
races last year, that was the whole purpose of the whole program we did
last year, where Aaron rode some of the races and Scott rode some of the
races. See this was all planned prior. The whole purpose of that was for
both Scott and Aaron to get a feeling for the situation and give Kawasaki
a chance to evaluate them to some degree. The same thing for me, to give
me some idea of what it was all about so we didn't go into it this year
knowing nothing about it.
We made a lot of mistakes last year.
When I say we I mean myself, the mechanics, Scott we all took our turn
at screwing up. And that is why Scott didn't have the kind of results we
kind of all expected. But it taught us a valuable lesson, and lessons that
we didn't forget going into this year. So the bottom line is that I knew
what exactly I was headed for when we went into this year. I think that
all of us were mentally prepared and so far it is working out good. As
for me I arrive at an airport somewhere I've never been and try to manage
to get a map and a rental car and find where I'm going. Once I get to the
track it's really quite simple from that point. The hardest point is getting
from the airport to the racetrack.
Q. You and Eddie Lawson are old
friends, did you two have any talks at Suzuka?
A. (obviously reluctant to talk)
Q. What is your sense of what
he is going to do now, is he going to continue to be a hired gun?
A. He is a hired gun and I knew that
this was coming. As a matter of fact there have been some conversations
between his manager and myself a year or so ago in regards to this. Yeah
Eddie is a hired gun, that's what it amounts to and he's open to whoever
wants to hire a gun. Why not? Eddie is a very competitive spirit and there
is no way he is going to be happy sitting around watching television or
what have you. With him ... frankly Scott and Eddie are a lot alike, Scott
is the closest to all the riders I've worked with to being similar to Eddie.
There are differences of course but a lot of similarities also. Neither
one of those guys can sit still for five minutes, there is no way. You'll
never get Scott to sit down and watch Television or play a game of cards.
The same thing with Eddie, they've always gotta be doing something. So
Eddie isn't going to sit around and play with his boat all day, or his
go-cart or whatever. He has to be doing something different and any one
of those things, as much as he may enjoy it, gets old after a few minutes.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is a perfect scenario for Eddie.
it provides competition, it provides a different activity.
I'm quite sure that when Eddie was
racing full time if you'd ask him about Suzuka he tell you to stick it.
But now that he's riding go-carts and tooling around in his boat, if you
mention Suzuka, it's like that's different! I'm tired of my boat or whatever
he was doing five minutes before, he's tired of that. So, anyway I think
the hired gun thing fits Eddie really well and he's doing a good job for
the people that have hired him. He won Daytona and he came very close to
winning the eight hour so certainly those were good investments for those
people. I think he'll continue to do it as long as someone wants to hire
Q. Will we ever see him in a set
of green leathers?
A. I don't know, I can't answer that.
(laughs) I wouldn't bet either way! Anything is possible. We've talked
quite a few times, not about that but just friendly conversations. He was
at Suzuka when we tested at Suzuka and we talked a little there. He and
Scott talk quite a bit. He's doing his Indycar thing now and that's his
new thing at home. I can't speak for him, I only know that he is pretty
interested in his Indycar deal, having fun with that and it appears as
though, certainly in the conversations we had, that perhaps next year he's
interested in doing Daytona again or doing the eight hour again or whatever
else might come up that looks financially appealing to him.
Q. One would think that after
four world championships and an untold amount of income from Grand Prix
racing the money end of it would become a moot point.
A. We talked at the eight hour Monday
morning and he told me that he thought winning was still much more important.
Actually it came about because he reportedly was paid a lot of money to
ride the eight hour and we were talking about the purse and what have you,
the purse at the eight hour is quite good. So we were talking about Scott's
recent financial success and Eddie made some comment that winning was more
important. Scott confirmed that, he said, you're right. They said a big
paycheck really doesn't make up for not winning.
But Eddie has always been that way,
I don't think Eddie ever raced for money, I think it is more a case of
his manager worrying about the dollars. It's a sense of pride to Eddie,
although he might go do something for nothing his feeling is if they aren't
willing to pay then it's probably not worth doing.
Q. You've mentioned accomplishing
several goals before you get out of racing, what else is on the list?
A. I guess the one thing of major
importance is that I'd like to win the world championship, that's the number
one priority. Next to that I'd like to win all the American championships
I can win, Daytona again and perhaps another world championship. Of course
we have to win the first one before I can worry about trying to repeat
it. Now that we've won Suzuka and Daytona the number one thing is for us
to win the world championship. It's getting tougher, I don't know where
we'll go for new challenges after we win the world championship, I don't
know what else we can do to win but try to win the same things over again.
Right now I'm just proud and happy to have been part of these Kawasaki
programs. We won the first Superbike race at Daytona for Kawasaki, now
we've won the first Suzuka race for Kawasaki, if we should be so lucky
as to win the world championship we'll be the first to do so for Kawasaki.
I don't know what else I could hope for, I'm blessed already, I don't want
to be greedy.
Q. Surmise the young New Zealander
Slight, the other half of your WSC team.
A. Aaron is doing very well, really
very well. I'm very pleased with him and I think he is going to continue
to improve. I think that this year he is a little bit over-shadowed by
Scott because Scott came in with more notoriety and Scott has been the
flashier of the two. It's kind of one of those things where Aaron has gone
unnoticed other than from his own following. But he is really doing a fantastically
good job and for the most part, since his last crash, and regardless of
the crash he's been right in the thick of things at every race. It's been
Scott and Aaron and Fallappa, they've been the three most consistently
So Aaron is doing very well. It's
a shame that he gets over-shadowed; it's kind of like Spencer over-shadowing
Lawson, and that's a whole subject in itself, but the fact that they're
on the same team and are actually quite good friends, which is even more
amazing, because up until he crashed at the last race there was only been
a few points between them. They were both just as likely to lead the championship.
It's a little tougher now because Aaron has slipped back a bit but there
is a lot of races to go.
Our position is that it is a best
case scenario, heaven forbid that anything should happen to Scott, Aaron
could still carry the ball. Unfortunately Ducati has a similar case: Fogarty
has now really improved and shown more consistency so they're almost in
the same position. Even if one of us loses a rider it's still going to
be between our two teams.
Q. You mentioned Thomas Stevens
before. He never did fit in at Muzzy's did he?
A. It doesn't seem like Thomas has
fit in anywhere he's been does it? (laughs) I don't know what to say there,
when he first approached me about coming to our team I couldn't understand
it at all. I couldn't understand why he would leave Vance and Hines, and
then when he did ultimately leave Vance and Hines that was even more amazing.
I asked Terry, "Terry, I don't understand, why are you going to let this
guy go?" and of course Terry wouldn't comment. Now I think I understand.
I really don't know why Stevens left our team. I know what he told me,
he told me that it was Russell's team and he wanted to be where he was
going to be the number one guy. I guess if you looked at it that way, then
when Scott started with us then it was chandler's team. but Chandler left
and it became Scott's team. Scott's gone now. Stevens isn't on our team.
That was the plan going into this year, we knew Scott was leaving.
When he told me that, I said to him,
I'm not sure if I understand you. You know Scott is leaving? He said yeah.
I said well then I don't know what you're talking about, you should inherit
the throne. But he had already made up his mind that he was going to leave,
just like he had made up his mind at Terry's that he was going to leave
prior to the end of the year. So I don't know what to tell you, I'm not
sure that there is a home for him, I don't know where he goes after this,
I guess Honda I don't know.
I guess I'd have to agree with you
that he isn't a team player but to me that is Thomas. Is he a team player
anywhere? He didn't do it at Terry's, is he doing it now? All I'm doing
is looking at Thomas Stevens and .. Thomas is a little different person
and if he wasn't involved in doing any of the team things then it was Thomas's
choosing. It certainly wasn't our choosing. I don't know if you're asking
because of what Thomas has told you or your own observations but that is
the same thing Thomas portrayed to me, that this was Scott Russell's team
and that he was second man and blah blah blah. Well, see I never saw it
that way. So if that's true, maybe he created it, I don't know.
So what I'm trying to say to you
is that now when I look back at this in retrospect now and I remember back
to how it was when he rode for Vance and Hines, it's actually the same
way. There isn't anything any different. And I don't think that there is
anything that is any thing that is any different than where he is now.
So I'm going to turn this around and put it in Thomas Steven's lap: the
reality is that I don't think Thomas is a team player.
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