Despite winning a single 500cc championship title in 1993, Kevin Schwantz soon had a legion of fans, and the impact the Texan made on motorcycle racing is beyond measure. His flamboyant action-packed style of riding and equally flamboyant crashes, showcased his talent and determination to race like it was his last.
Schwantz remained with Suzuki throughout his career and before entering the international arena had already made name for himself in native Superbike series. In 1986, Schwantz made his Grand Prix debut at Assen and was a full time member of the series by the next season. In 1988, he won the opening race at Suzuka in Japan, making his mark right away.
In the 1988 and 1989 season, Schwantz accumulated eight wins and 13 podiums, but later in the season he suffered late falls in Spain and Belgium. This gave him a reputation of being a brilliant but inconsistent rider. But he undeniably was one of the stars in the 500cc class along with legends like Mick Doohan, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Wayne Gardner.
The following season saw Schwantz battling his popular peers and he also constantly developed the RGV500, using his distinctive natural ability and talent. In the 1990 season, Schwantz finished runner up, and the rivalry between Rainey and himself only escalated.
The Americans were constantly trying to outdo each other over the next three years. Schwantz clinched victories at Hockenheim and Assen, which angered his Yamaha rival, who then took three titles. Schwantz stood his ground and increased his wins to 19, with 21 podiums between the period of 1990 till 1992.
By the 1993 season, the Americans had developed a more subtle and improved relationship, with Schwantz himself becoming more steady and relaxed, similar to Rainey. When Rainey suffered a career ending accident at Misano, the door was finally left open for Schwantz, who was not entirely happy with his title win.
All the injuries and broken bones, especially on his wrists began to take a toll in the 1994 season, and Schwantz finished fourth at the end of the season. In the middle of the 1995 season, Schwantz tearfully announced his decision to retire.