‘IT WAS A BEAST – BORN BAD AND IT NEVER CAME GOOD’
COLIN E DWARDS Texas Tornado talks tuned Yamaha PW50S and fireball Aprilias
You weren’t brought up in a racing household, so what kicked off your interest in bikes?
Well my dad always had bikes and wherever in the world he was working with the oil industry, he would have a bike in the garage. And ever since I was able to crawl I was interested in bikes. I would go missing and be found in the garage sat near the bikes. When I got a bit older I would climb up on them.
When did you get your first bike?
I was three and a Suzuki JR50 was dropped off by Santa Claus in our apartment in Houston, Texas. I still remember it today. I started racing on that and my dad tuned the bike a bit. He wasn’t an engineer but he just seemed to pick it up. I raced that at the GMC Finals at the Astrodome in 1981.
What came after the JR50?
The Yamaha PW50. They were awesome. My dad bought three in a crate, he built his own monoshock linkage, tuned the hell out of it and that thing would haul ass. Once dad built a few he was building them for people all over the place because they were so fast. We bought them for $300 and sold them race ready for $2800; that’s how much work was done to them. I don’t have any of the PW50S in my possession and that’s sad times for me. I would love to find one of them again.
You did a lot of motocross racing after that didn’t you?
Yes, and all of those bikes were just dirtbikes. Meant nothing to me other than being a racing tool. But in 1990 a local rich guy had seen me racing in my novice year of road racing and he had seen me winning so he asked if I would be interested in racing his kit-tuned Honda RC30. To have a full kit-tuned RC30 round here at that time was unheard of and I just rode the sh*t out of that bike. It was a lovely bike to race.
stage. What was that TZ250 like?
In the AMA class my bike was awesome. It was fast and reliable. But I went to Jarama in Spain for an international race and Tetsuya Harada, Loris Capirossi and others were there and their bikes just smoked me. I couldn’t even stay in the draft!
You started WSB in 1996. What was the Yamaha YZF750R like to race?
To be honest, I didn’t like that bike. I tried so hard to love it, we won the Suzuka Eight Hour on it and I tried to con myself but it had some inherent set-up issues that even running 21mm of offset couldn’t cure. It was around this time that racing engineering in superbikes started to get serious.
The bikes you are most usually linked with is the Castrol Honda SP-1 and SP-2. Are they your favourites?
You mean the ‘Ducati Killer’? That bike started really good in 2000 and ’01 but a new Michelin rear caused problems with chatter. The bike was changed for ’02 and it was the best bike I ever raced. I just couldn’t do any wrong on it. I only needed to think about turning and that bike was already doing it. It just wanted me to go fast. I never raced it but the Michelin test bike I have been using is a full-factory M1, the same as Valentino’s and that bike is just incredible.
What about the one that tried to kill you, the Aprilia RS3 Cube?
That bike was a beast. It was born bad and never came good. The problems were with the engine and where it produced the torque and the power in the rev range. I used to bitch all the time but it barely changed. Car people tuning bike engines doesn’t work. I genuinely felt like it was 50/50 if I was going to die riding it. The engine was reliable but it leaked oil all the time. One race I came in and there was no oil on my boots so the team boss, Gigi Dall’igna, grabbed a bottle of oil and squirted some on my boots, just for consistency.