Interview 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 to compete

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 ..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) Yeah, sure.

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 him.

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 fast guys. 

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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