Schwantz School Lites | Track Time

The Same Great School, Less Schwantz

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kendrick Kirk

The Schwantz School’s Premier program is an incredible opportunity for any racing enthusiast. Kevin Schwantz is still one of the fastest men on two wheels, and one of the rare few able to clearly communicate the techniques he employs to ride so well. Premier schools allow attendees to ride alongside the 1993 500cc World Champion, absorbing his hard-earned go-fast knowledge through classroom and on-track drills. Participants pay dearly for the privilege, however: Those schools cost between $1800-$2900, depending on length and location.

Last year the Schwantz School launched a stripped-down "Lites" course that distills the multi-day Premier program into a single-day format. Revvin’ Kevin doesn’t attend Lites events—his well-trained assistant instructors teach instead. But the cost of entry is considerably more affordable at just $500, and the core curriculum remains essentially the same.

“Basically, it’s a Premier school with the ‘country club’ perks removed,” Lites instructor Lee Acree explains. “Premier events are like vacations for some customers, many of whom are super-fans of Kevin. Lites schools tend to be attended by club racers or track day enthusiasts who want Kevin’s tips and techniques, but aren’t so concerned about having dinner with the man.”

Even without Schwantz’s presence, Lites students are in capable hands. Each student gets lots of one-on-one attention, so each lesson is personally tailored to be appropriate to any rider’s skill level. Instructors ride alongside students on the track, alternately leading and following to provide on-bike guidance. Post-lap debriefings follow each session, giving students immediate feedback and concrete ideas to think about during the next session.

Classroom sessions focus on fundamentals like extending your visual horizon and overcoming panic response, along with concrete instruction on the physics of riding motorcycles. Body positioning is discussed in detail, along with countersteering, braking and other essential riding skills. Nothing revolutionary, just sound, solid advice presented in a logical and easy-to-implement manner. On-track sessions include lessons on gear selection, finding and using reference points, cornering lines and the merits of early versus late apexes. “There’s no trick to good riding,” Acree explains. “It’s just basic skills, executed well. Anyone can do it.”

Schwantz’s Lites option packs an incredible amount of quality instruction into a one-day, $500 package. Ample one-on-one time made the classroom theory easy to implement on track, and the fact that other students were serious about learning created a no-nonsense environment where it was easy to get good work done. The overall experience is undoubtedly more glamorous with the World Champion lapping and commenting at the same time, but receiving the same valuable information for approximately one-fourth of the cost seems like a fair trade-off.  MC

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