Nicky, when I first started covering Grand Prix, which was a long time ago, the Italians and the British were the guys to beat. And then came the Americans. The guys you grew up watching, the guys from '78 through Kevin Schwantz
and then you and Junior (Kenny Roberts Jr.) each had sporadic titles in there.
The Spanish TV stations that I would work for would consider a good day to be if all three riders on all three classes finish on the podium. And that certainly is possible going into this next season. Where did America start to fall behind and what does the United States needs to do to get Americans back on the podium again?
Well, it is true. Definitely the Spanish on some days, the amount of podiums they would take home were incredible. You would probably know better than me where things went off track in the early '80s and the '90s when all the dirt trackers made the transitions to 500. They were really suited to those with the amount of power and their sliding which I think dirt track was the best training for that. Where now the sport has changed a lot and with the electronics and tyres, the way the four strokes are ridden.
In Spain, I would say the main thing they are doing so good is starting the kids so young. It doesn't matter if you are golfing, riding motorcycles or want to be a cook. It is a young man's game. The younger you start, the better you are. I see it in Italy but mainly in Spain. These academies and schools where they are starting these kids on road racing on real bikes and real competition at a young age. If American wants to catch up, that is what America is going to have to do. The age limit in America is a little different.
It makes it a little bit harder, and it is a bit later to get on a bigger bike. We need to follow those next steps and get some kids in a competitive series earlier, like the Rookies Cup in Europe.