Kevin Schwantz on Casey Stoner

The 1993 500cc world champion reacts to the Australian’s MotoGP retirement announcement.

Kevin Schwantz on Casey Stoner

Kevin Schwantz on Casey Stoner

Kevin Schwantz left Grand Prix racing in 1995 in part because he could no longer ride in the manner in which he had become accustomed. He couldn’t lock his left wrist, which greatly affected his ability to support himself when braking.

Casey Stoner is leaving the sport at the end of this season for other reasons. Schwantz, like others, was surprised by Stoner's decision to hang up his helmet. "Casey's not that old, and he has no real injuries," he said. "We thought he was going to be around for another five or 10 years."

Stoner gave several reasons for his departure, including changes to the sport. "That's just an excuse," said Schwantz. "When I quit, I needed a reason to quit. For me, it was the injuries. I wasn't able to ride like me any more, so why be out there?"

In his announcement, Stoner said the press has treated him unfairly. “He’s always been very critical of the media,” said Schwantz. “I’ve never heard Stoner say, ‘You know what, the media did a really good job covering that.’

"No one else is quitting because of the pressure the media has given them. Valentino Rossi is getting a pretty hard time right now from his lack of performance on the Ducati. Casey gets plenty of kudos in the press.

“At the end of 1992, journalist Mat Oxley wrote that ‘I’d better watch out, that I might be past my sell-by date.’ I carried the comment around through the end of my career and a few years after that. It was motivation for me: I’ll show him ‘past my sell-by date!’”

Stoner also said that he loves motorcycles and doesn’t want to lose his passion for two wheels. Schwantz identifies with that sentiment. “When I quit racing,” said Schwantz, “I didn’t even want to see a motorcycle. I spent two or three years driving cars in Australia, never once even sat on a motorcycle. Came back home, bought part of a NASCAR team, drove cars. I talked cars, played cars.

“One day, I woke up and thought, ‘Man, I miss my motorcycle.’ When I got back on a motorcycle, I realized what I’d been missing and how childish it was for me to think, ‘Motorcycles? I don’t need those things any more.’”

If Stoner doesn’t want to race, he should retire, concluded Schwantz. “If you’ve decided that you’re tired of doing it or not in love with doing it any more, you ought to quit. It’s a dangerous sport, and it’s easy to hurt yourself. Get out while you can, and go make the most of life.

“One championship, three championships, 15 championships, however many wins, it’s all your interpretation of your achievements. If you’re happy with what you’ve done, and you don’t feel like doing it any more, then walking away is absolutely the right thing to do.”