Kevin Schwantz addressed an enthusiastic gathering of motorcyclists, congressional staff, and military commanders at the third annual National Capital Region Joint Services motorcycle safety event held Friday, May 1, 2009 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Schwantz is the 1993 500cc World Champion and founder of the track-based Kevin Schwantz School, located at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. His appearance at the Pentagon coincided with an announcement by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) that it has officially recognized the Kevin Schwantz School, making it the first outside training curriculum to receive this distinction.
Organized by the Department of Defense (DoD), the motorcycle safety event emphasized the critical need for service members to adopt safe riding habits. The military’s Joint Service Safety Council has identified motorcycle safety and training as the number one non-combat safety concern across the services.
Schwantz’ comments at the podium focused on the lessons that can be learned on the track and how they apply to making better judgments on the street. He referenced his experience in the 1987 AMA Superbike series, calling the competition with Wayne Rainey, "…definitely a battle. A battle he won, by the way."
Schwantz continued, "But that’s a battle on the racetrack. It may look intense but it’s actually a very controlled environment. And that’s nothing like the battles our brave service personnel are fighting. For the military sportbike riders we’re talking about today, the real battleground is right here at home – on the streets."
In addition to Schwantz, the roster of guest speakers included the Honorable Deputy Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Mr. Addison (Tad) D. Davis, IV, Air Force Safety Headquarters Commander Major General Frederick F. Roggero, Navy Safety Center Commander Rear Admiral Arthur Johnson, and Army Safety Center Commander Brigadier General William T. Wolf.
"The feedback to Kevin’s participation at the event was very positive," noted Managing Director of MSF Programs Al Hydeman. "Several of the military commanders expressed their appreciation to Kevin for assisting the military with its goal of decreasing accidents and fatalities among their forces through safety and training."
Immediately following the speaker portion of the event, the MSF staged several riding demonstrations of exercises from the Military Sportbike RiderCourseSM, which was developed in close collaboration with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Safety Center and is now available to all branches of the Department of Defense.
"The entire crowd was riveted by Kevin’s riding demo," Hydeman said. "He executed the skills – quick stops and cornering – smoothly, at an appropriate speed, with precision and control; characteristics of riding that are emphasized in both the MSF Military Sportbike RiderCourse and the Kevin Schwantz School."
"The purpose of the demo," Hydeman continued, "was to emphasize risk management and visual awareness as much as riding skills. Mental preparedness plays a vital role in the training equation – it gives you the tools you need to make better judgments and respond, rather than react, to any situation you might encounter in the real world."
During the demo, Schwantz also pointed out that mastering your technique, knowing your equipment and being mentally prepared will "make riding much more fun, which is why we do it in the first place."
The MSF attracted event attendees to the booth they shared with the Army CRC (Combat Readiness Center), where the center of attention was the Honda SMARTrainer (Safe Motorcyclist Awareness & Recognition Trainer), a traffic simulator on a special frame with actual motorcycle controls for the user interface. Of 11 new RETS (Rider Training and Education System) courses the MSF is scheduled to roll out in 2009, two will integrate the technological capabilities of the SMARTrainer.
Since 1973, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has set internationally recognized standards that promote the safety of motorcyclists with rider education courses, operator licensing tests, and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military, and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders can enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling.