1988 Honda NSR250 | The Bike That Changed My Life

"I rode factory Yamaha Superbikes in 1986 and '87 and we didn't have much luck. Yamaha pulled out of racing in '88 and I was left without a ride. I had a new family, a two-year-old son and I just bought my first home, so I was really scrambling for something, anything, to jumpstart my career. Jerry Griffiths, Honda's dirt-track guy, was a good friend, and when he heard that Honda was looking for someone to ride the injured Masahiro Shimizu's NSR250 at the '88 USGP, he recommended me. I remember seeing a picture of Wayne Gardner at the beginning of that year on his NSR250 and thinking, "How cool!" I never imagined I'd soon have my own factory NSR250-the world's best racing bike-and Erv Kanemoto as my crew chief. Talk about a dream come true! That race was such a big event, the first USGP in 20 years, and I was up against the best of the best: Bubba Shobert (who was number one in America at the time), Christian Sarron, Sito Pos, John Kocinski-and I beat them all by 12 seconds! That bike opened up a whole new career for me. The year after that I raced full-time for HRC on a bike sponsored by Edwin Jeans, with Mick Doohan as my teammate, and I finished second at the USGP in '89 as well. That NSR250 opened so many doors, and opened some eyes too! Whenever I start feeling down, I think of that moment, that day, that bike, and feel better immediately."