Two-stroke Tribute: Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hamish Jamieson was once again spinning wrenches for 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz.


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After Kevin Schwantz won the 500cc world title in 1993, Suzuki presented him with one of the two machines on which he competed that season, set up as raced to victory at the Dutch TT in Assen, Holland. For years, the two-stroke V-Four sat idle at Schwantz's home in Texas. A few years ago, he shipped the bike to American Suzuki in Brea, California, where Aki Goto replaced leaky brake and fork seals, and Troy Lee repainted the Lucky Strike-liveried bodywork. The RGV500 was then returned to Schwantz. Again, it sat—a mechanical memento of other times, other places.

Earlier this year, Schwantz was asked if he would make a few demonstration laps on his GP winner prior to the start of August's Indianapolis GP. He phoned Suzuki race engineer Stuart Shenton, who recommended that he ask Hamish Jamieson (one of Schwantz's mechanics in '93 and Alex Barros' crew chief in '94) to inspect the bike and determine what might be needed to get it track-ready. Jamieson, who left GP racing in 2002 after more than two decades of wrenching, flew to Texas from his home in the Republic of The Gambia in Western Africa.

"I stripped the bike down and, basically, it was in good order," Jamieson said. "The engine was quite fresh when it was given to Kevin; it was just a case of a little bit of corrosion in some of the magnesium on the water system. I repaired those things, and the bike fired up straight away."Schwantz rode the Suzuki briefly at Barber Motorsports Park, re-familiarizing himself with the engine's abrupt, narrow powerband and, more importantly, the old-style carbon front brakes. "The material needs some temperature to work," explained Jamieson. "If you ride the bike slowly, it feels like the brakes aren't working." Of the Michelin slicks, he said, "The tires are new, not old stock. What was important is that they had the same profile, so the bike would feel the same."

At Indianapolis, Jamieson was all smiles, pleased to be back among friends. "This past month with Kevin, his family and the guys from his riding school has just been a great thrill for me," he said. "I've really enjoyed being back in this racing environment. The main thing I've missed is the people that are here."

That doesn't mean he wasn't nervous watching Schwantz circulate Indy's roadcourse. "I'm back to being a mechanic again," he laughed. "As a mechanic, you're so concerned that the bike is going to hang together, if you've done everything properly. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life!"