In the days before corporate bullshit had suffocated motorcycle grand prix racing, the paddock was full of real people. The golden age was full of mavericks and chancers running from the nine to five, guys like Gardner's gofer, Mick Roberts, who convinced half the paddock that he was the HRC team boss. These people were the heart, soul and sinew of motorcycle racing before the sport grew the flab of PR flunkies and marketing wankers. And, of course, there was a lot of drinking.
Back then, Sundays nights weren't about worrying where the next race or test were. It was where riders were all gonna meet, have some beers, tell stories, lie about the race and whatever else. It was definitely a golden age. Sunday nights were always huge. You never knew where or when it'd end.
The racing of this era was like a high-speed bar-room brawl. The kins of the golden age all had one thing in common – they learned to fight like dogs on doggy dirt-track ovals in the States and Australia. Dirt track is like a bar-room brawl with engines and handebars thrown in,so it was no wonder they kept it rough when the hit Europe. Of them all, Rainey and Schwantz were the worst. 'We where like kids who hated each other at school,' said Rainey once. Then just months before the Californian was paralyzed, Schantz added, 'We settled our differences and races clean. We both knew you can get hurt real bad on a race track.'
Imagine Valentino Rossi announcing he's going to do the TT and that's what it felt like when Kevin Schwantz revealed he'd signed up to do the 1988 Macau street race. He won, of course, minutes ahead of everybody, dodging the walls on his Suzuki RGV500 and spending most of the race on the rear wheel just for a laugh. 'Look back now and think, how did Suzuki even think about letting me go do that?' said Schwantz a few year later. With all the stupid stuff Kevin Schwantz did on a proper race track, how bad could he get hurt with all those walls in that street race...