The journey to Acura began on a Mini Trail motorcycle
My first motorcycle was a Honda Mini Trail. I managed to con my parents into buying it for me when I was in the fifth grade because all my buddies in school were totally into motorcycles and dirt bikes.
That was back when there were minibikes, which were lawn mower engines on a tube frame -- rude and crude. Then Honda came out with this great little miniaturized motorcycle called a Mini Trail. It had suspension in the front, it had a three-speed transmission, and it was very cleverly packaged.
There were a couple of big knobs on the handlebars, and you could unscrew them and fold them down. And you could turn off a valve on the gas tank and throw it into the trunk of a car. Hence it was easy for my parents to take me to go riding.
The model I had even had a headlight and a taillight and could be registered if you wanted to ride around campgrounds and stuff like that. I just had to have one.
My first professional road race was on a Kawasaki superbike. I finished seventh. Later that year the factory Suzuki team tentatively offered me a factory ride for the following year, but at that time they didn't have enough money to field two riders. I decided to shop myself around and called Honda. There were only three factory teams in superbike racing in the U.S. in 1981. I knew the Honda team was a great team.
I got hold of the Honda race team manager. We had lunch, and the next day he called me back with an offer to come race for Honda.