Interviews 3 Apr 2014

Fast Thoughts: Kevin Curtain

Australian icon on retirement and other topics.

Veteran Aussie standout Kevin Curtain shocked the motorcycle racing fraternity last week when he announced his retirement from the sport, effective immediately.

Curtain’s career has been a stellar one, spanning 21 years in both Australia and overseas. We caught up with him to poll his thoughts on this latest development as well as a handful of other topics.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

Second thoughts on retirement…
No, no real second thoughts. When I had to tell Yamaha, or when I decided to, I guess it was a bit emotional for me. I was thinking there if I’d done the right thing. We can’t race forever, we all get old, at some stage.

Wakefield Park tyre troubles…
I’d say Wakefield Park was a big factor in the decision. It all started from our test. We went there about two weeks out from that round, with the same batch of tyres that Dunlop gave us. We were under the impression that we had the good tyres, which everyone was meant to have. I was sort of beating myself up there because I was starting to think it was me. We went away from the test, scratching our heads a bit, and then at the race meeting things just weren’t right. I talked to the team and said something wasn’t right. I’d been through this kind of stuff before overseas, and when the rider says it’s not him there’s something wrong. We bashed our heads against a brick wall on Friday and Saturday, and it was just lucky that one of our mechanics stumbled across the cause of it all. It got to me, and I thought to myself, that maybe this was a sign. That’s it.

An ongoing relationship with Yamaha…
If we come to an agreement about things they might want me to do with Yamaha then I’d be happy to do something. It’s up to them really, everyone’s got a job at the end of the day to do. We’ll just have to see where it all goes.

Most memorable race…
That would have to be Bathurst in 2000, the last time the bikes were ever there. I won every race that I went in, all the sprints, and also the endurance, which I rode myself! It was quite amazing to race there. Going around the track is amazing, especially when your shoulder scrapes on the walls going around The Cutting! Every time I came around I could see the blue off my leathers all scraped around the wall!

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

I hope I’m remembered as a racer who…
Just as an Aussie guy that came from nowhere and decided to have a go, I guess you could say. I was just an average bloke, with no money, and we always struggled when we got into the sport. We didn’t know from race to race whether we’d get enough money for tyres and that sort of thing. I guess at the end of the day I hope I’m remembered as an Aussie battler who had the dreams to make it to the top, and I did, it was just a shame I didn’t actually get to win the world championship.

Advice to Aussies trying to break into the big time…
Probably to try to concentrate on winning races in Australia before they try to go overseas. I’ve seen a lot of young guys go overseas with backing but because they haven’t got the experience they don’t spend too long over there and they’re straight back here. My advice would be save your money, and get experienced over here, before they try to make the big time. Without that experience it is very hard to crack the big time.

The Aussie talent pool…
There’s a lot of competition and talent in Australia, but unfortunately, like the rest of the world, there’s not much money around. I know a lot of our guys are taking whatever they can get when they look overseas, and it’s not necessarily a good bike. I was lucky that I didn’t have to pay to get there and I could make some kind of money, and it worked out in the long run, but at the moment you’re forking out a minimum of 100 grand and the bike isn’t even that good.