Schwantz to Ducati?

Henny Ray Abrams | December 17, 2011


 The Schwantz School will celebrate its 12th year in 2012, but with a radical and welcome change; students now have the choice of riding the school’s Suzukis and Hondas or their own motorcycles.The change was made after years of students asking if they could bring their own bikes, whether Honda or Suzuki or any other brand. Now, starting with the first school of 2012 on April 16-17 at Road Atlanta, where the school is returning after three years at Barber Motorsports Park, students who want to ride their own Ducati or BMW or Yamaha or Kawasaki can do so.”We always had people wanting to come and bring their own bikes,” Kevin Schwantz said in a phone conversation from his home in Austin. “It’s almost cost prohibitive to bring your own bike, because it’s only a couple hundred bucks cheaper and if you’re going to come ride for two days, have a set of decent [Michelin] tires on, you’re probably going to use the best part of those tires up and those tires are probably $300-400 a set.”The standard cost for a two-day school is $1999 with a school bike and $1799 with your own motorcycle.”But we decided we get enough requests from people who have brand X-Y-Z that they really would like to bring their bike and ride their own bike, even though maybe they’ve come to our program before. Now, hopefully, it’ll just open up another channel for some more revenue, be able to bring more revenue.”This isn’t, strictly speaking, the first time the school has allowed students to use their own motorcycles. The Schwantz School has taught at U.S. military bases where the soldiers rode their own bikes. But it is the first time students at one of the school’s home tracks will be able to ride the motorcycles they own.What Schwantz discovered with riders on their own bikes is that “it’s what you’re going to be on on the street that you’re gonna probably going to encounter that situation that we’re trying to train you the best for to be able to avoid it. The comfort level that you have on your own bike, whether you’ve had it for six months, whether you’ve had it for five or ten years, it’s something that really does come into play. So having people on their own machines, I think in a way, is better. It’s always been that first Suzuki and then Suzuki and Honda both have really felt like that they do so much to support our program that that’s really the only brand they want. So that was why we kinda had that barrier we had in the past, it was kinda dictated to us. We’ve always felt like there’s been a lot more people out there we felt would get to come to school.”The school’s move back to Road Atlanta wasn’t planned. Originally, the plan was to move to a permanent base at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, but that track has beset with various financial problems which have delayed construction. So the school is going back to Road Atlanta and also to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”We had told Barber that we were probably leaving at the end of the year in hopes that things would be done in Austin a lot earlier than they are actually going to be done,” Schwantz said. “We just needed a place to go. Barber’s been okay to us; it’s just been a tough place with the cost of the track, plus medical. It’s just a really, really big nut to crack every two-day program that we run. In our three years there, we were never allowed a three-day weekend. We never got a three-day weekend. We had to go to Atlanta to get our three-day. They’re busy enough, I guess, as it is that they didn’t have to cater to us.”The school currently has one less weekend than last year, though that’s likely to change. Also changed is the date of the Indy school. Because IMS has two less weeks to get ready for the Red Bull United States Grand Prix, the school has been moved to the Monday-Tuesday, Aug. 20-21, after the grand prix.In addition to his schools in the U.S., Schwantz will serve as the guest instructor for the Club Pontgrup Safety Schools (the Pont Grup is a large Spanish insurance concern) around the time of each of the four Spanish GPs, “either right before or right after those events,” Schwantz said. There will be two days of schools, but a single day curriculum. “So we that we can bring more people in. They have a school that’s already set up, we’re just trying to make it a little more special.”2012 Schwantz School DatesRoad AtlantaApril 16-17

May 26-28 (Three Day)

June 30/July 1

September 1-2Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayAugust 20-21



Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.