Honda's Exhaust System Provider
NewsFeaturesRacingPointsGarageAdvertisersContact UsNavigation
The Interview: 
Kevin Cameron
by dean adams

In the realm of motorcycle journalists there is an entire gamut of persons and personalities, a tiny microchosim of society as we know it. From shameless egotistical posers interested in only printing stories about themselves and their supposedly fascinating lives and surreptitious word spinners twisting the truth to suit their own predicament, to arrow straight scribes who sleep like babes with an unburdned concinse, to glorified pr men with blinders so huge its a wonder they can see to walk, in bike writing we all survive in a enviorment of hybred bottomfeeding.

And then there is Kevin Cameron. Not fitting easily into any catagory or lable, Cameron the near twenty-year contributing editor of the now defunct Cycle magazine is easily one of the most well read and well known motojourno scribes on the planet. His column--TDC--is read with interest each month by everyone who facnies himself a serious mover or shaker or even serious enthusiast. From Marlboro Roberts mechanics in Europe to a quiet woodworker in LaCrosse Wisconsin all read his columns in Cycle World and Motorcycle International, addicted to the imagry.

We chatted in Erv Kanemoto's trailer at the USGP in 1994.

thanks, brain 'brain' nelson Q. How have you acclimated to life after the demise of Cycle? Which was your favorite period there?

A. You get accustomed to a life and you get accustomed to dealing with people in a certain way and then one day it has changed. It wouldnít do to yell or tear out one's hair, time has done that to  me anyway. There were people who worked at Cycle that took it very hard and are still taking it hard. I can understand that. But Iím not a businessman, I donít have to make the decision as to which of two magazines makes more money. Those people who interest themselves in those matters come up with their decisions and that is their lot.

Well, I suppose to a Cycle connoisseur, and I never was one, the Cook Neilson years are regarded highly but I really donít have an opinion. I never was involved in the production so I never really evaluated the magazine. 

I enjoyed working with Steve Anderson because he being an engineer he had interests that paralleled my own fairly well.

Q. Do you see a time when you might publish a book of TDCs?

A. I think it would be an interesting thing to do. Iíd like to run it up the pole once to see what response I was given. Itís probably better to self-publish something like that and I just donít have the money nor can I see myself fumbling off to the post office each morning with twenty-eight little packages or loading my computer memory with address or cutting my tongue with uncountable stamps. But if I could turn everything over to a publisher - sure. Nice thing about books is they stay written whereas magazine articles have to be written every month.

click for larger version
caption #1
click for larger version
caption #2
click for larger version
caption #3
click for larger version
caption #4
click for larger version
caption #5
click for larger version
caption #6
Q. Will you ever actively tune for a 250 rider again?

A. The problem with that of course is that when you are young you can pay yourself in your own enthusiasm. A person who is twenty-five years old thinks that working for a week with possibly as much as three hours of sleep a day to get ready for Daytona and then driving straight through and then working four more days without sleep is kind acceptable means to an end. But if you have a family and if you are old enough to know better you might not make those same choices.

In any case I think that people who are trying to accomplish something by working two shifts or three shifts are simply admitting that they are badly organized. You can see race teams here or at any AMA race that are trying to do business on that basis and they will make mistakes.

Q.You had a very close association with the AMA for a long time in being the acting technical inspector on the roadracing scene ...

A. The years of doing AMA tech were a valuable transition for me. I had gone off and worked in industry for a while making X-ray detectors and when I came back I dropped my engine building business. I tried to get that back going again on a business-like basis and it was un-satisfying to me.

Going to the races was a priority for me because I did not want to be divorced from all the people I knew and all the activities. So doing tech was a good way for me to be on the scene, plus at the time the Roger Edmonson mediated revolution was in progress. The elderly gentlemen with the bellies and the attitudes were on their way out and a younger group, people I considered more competent and more motivated to produce good quality racing had come in. People who had come up in club racing, that was the time of fusion, the AMA kind of realized there was some valuable dynamic in regional racing. The aligned  themselves to it and solved the problem of the one way start group. But I am afraid that my goals and the AMAís goals were not parallel. One of the other tech inspectors summed it up one day when he said, Kevin you know the thing that you donít accept is true nevertheless - thereís them and then thereís us. (Laughs)

He was, I think, to a considerable extent right. Itís not proper for somebody who is part of the regulatory apparatus to think like a rider, to think like a builder.

A fellow came in the garage at one point and asked if he could grind a stand lug off of his bike because it was grounding at Loudon. The other tech inspectors grabbed their rulebooks and started rippling through the pages like people looking for a Biblical quote.

I said to the guy, do you have a body grinder? He said yeah.

I said ĎWell, hold the body grinder at the angle of mother earth and grind the stand lug off so that the lines of the grinding simulate those of the roadway and whoís to know the difference? And donít ever come in here with trivial problems like this that you should be able to solve.í
When he left that was when they said, thereís them and thereís us and that what I had done was a very bad thing to do, etceteras.

I thought this is the day that I should be out of here, and shortly after that they decided they should go their way and I should go mine.

Q. You have named one of your sons after Erv Kanemoto, which must be seen as a deep measure of respect and admiration you have for the man ...

A. The idea that a person could relentlessly pursue an abstract goal and remain a fine person at the same time is what makes me admire Erv. In racing as in any other endevor, for example politics, there are too many examples of people who relentlessly pursue their goals while turing into shits. And Big Ervís steadfast interest is that he has a life that he wants to have something to happen, he makes it happen and that is admirable in itself; but even more so is to be able to remain a fine human being.



© 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Hardscrabble Media

Buy a t-shirt