Cycle News

Cycle News 2021 Issue 22 June 2

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 131 of 141

VOLUME 58 ISSUE 22 JUNE 2, 2021 P131 racing in 1989. He'd done what he wanted to do—win a Pro title. But Craig was, once again, conspiring to keep his little brother in the game. Craig came up with the idea of taking a mild-mannered Honda Hawk (a be- ginner's bike with an under-powered 650cc V-twin engine) and making it into a race bike. It was just the kind of challenge little brother Kevin could sink his teeth into. Former factory Honda tuner Mike Velasco was lending his expertise to the project, but they had major teeth- ing problems early on. After the first two rounds in 1989, Kevin had nothing to show for his efforts—no points, and three broken engines. A poorly braced cam-chain tensioner turned out to be the prob- lem. Once that was fixed, the bike became reliable. And with work, that little mild-mannered Hawk became an incredibly fast and sharp-handling Two Brothers rocket ship. Kevin became untouchable in the Modified class: From Loudon on, he swept five straight races. Along the way, Craig Shambaugh, a Ducati contender who broke out to a big early lead in the champion- ship and suddenly saw Erion closing in fast, just knew the Two Brothers bike couldn't be legal. Also, the guys were obviously factory; they had Mike Velasco, for God's sake! Pro- tests began flying, but Velasco was a master at "interpreting" the loosely written rulebook. "The problem was, the rulebook was vague," Kevin laughs. "For example, the rules said the bike had to have the original headlight bucket. We had it; it was just cut up and put it in a baggy under the seat—but it was there." All the protests ultimately bounced off the Two Brothers Honda, but Kevin still needed some help going into the last race of the season, in Topeka, Kansas. He needed to find someone who could come and race the backup Two Brothers Hawk and finish between him and Shambaugh. Fortunately, through Kevin and Craig's associa- tion with Reg Pridmore's school, they had some fast buddies. "We called this guy Kenny Greene," Kevin says. "Greene was this older, maybe in his late 30s, fast Willow Springs club racer. I called him up and said, 'Kenny, I need your help. I need you to come to Topeka and race our second bike. And, oh yeah, I need you to finish between me and the Shambaugh guy so I can win the championship.' "In the race, Kenny actually was in front of me, the bastard," Kevin continues. "I was out there racing for a championship, and he was there just having fun. I was tighter than you-know-what because my nerves were so shot, and he finally pulled over at the end and let me by." Along with a fun advertising campaign (featuring a cartoon character, "Hawkman," taking aim at all the Ducks) that ran in racing publications, that little Hawk GT helped launch the successful Two Brothers Racing company. Inspired by Kevin's success and the relative- ly cheap entrée into road racing the Hawk provided, the bike exploded on the club-racing scene, and to this day it has a cult following. Two Brothers began selling parts to service those club racers, and the business took off from there. Eventually Kevin branched out on his own to start Erion Racing. Kevin says that ideas from the Hawk also helped inspire the engi- neers at Honda. "They took a real interest," he notes, "and two Honda engineers who came over to look at what we were doing eventually were the guys who developed the RC51." Kevin and Craig developed a bigger version of the Hawk using a 750cc Twin from the Europe-only Honda Africa dual-sport machine and moved up to Pro Twins GP1. Kevin did very respectably, finishing third overall in the championship, behind Ducati stars Jamie James and Jimmy Adamo. Kevin feels his biggest accomplishment was beating 1987 BOTT champ Doug Brauneck, who was riding Dr. John's Moto Guzzi, at Loudon. "At Loudon, the little Hawk was just more maneuverable," Kevin says. "I consider Brauneck a better rider than me, but I was able to get around him and finish on the podium because our bike handled so well." That little Two Brothers Hawk GT became so famous that it would certainly be considered a major collector's item today but being racers and never thinking about history, the Erions sold the Hawk to an enthusiast in Guam shortly after retiring the bike. "I know where the bike is today," Kevin says. "I told the guy if he's ever interested in selling it to call me and give me the chance to buy it back." CN This Archives edition is reprinted from the March 17, 2010, issue of Cycle News. CN has hundreds of past Archives editions in our files, too many destined to be archives themselves. So, to prevent that from happening, in the future, we will be revisiting past Archives articles while still planning to keep fresh ones com- ing down the road. -Editor Subscribe to nearly 50 years of Cycle News Archive issues:

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