The 2011 racing season marked the end of a 21 year hiatus for Eric “KazMan” Kondo. Riding a production Kawasaki Ninja 250 with the AFM “KazMan” finished 5th overall in 250 production, 19th in 250 Superbike only racing in two rounds, and 9th overall in 500 Twins, racing against 450 and 500cc machines. He was running in 5th in the last round of 250 Superbike when he had a mechanical failure and had to retire.
In addition to being “Sneaky Fast” Eric is a pretty good video editor.
Eric is poised to have a very busy 2012 on his “50 is Nifty” tour and Cycle Gear is excited to be a part of it. KazMan will still be riding the Feel Like a Pro Ninja 250 with the AFM, but that is not his only ride. He will also be on a 600 in both the production and superbike classes. He has plans to campaign the same 600 in the AMA Super Sport class shooting for Rounds at Infineon Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park, and Laguna Seca Raceway: possibly more if additional funding comes his way. As if that is not enough, He will do some vintage road-racing with AHRMA, and then leave the road courses to do some flat-tracking and also plans to run some enduros and hare scrambles with district 36.
Eric will be getting all of this done with the help of Cycle Gear Racing, GoPro cameras, Feel Like a Pro, CT Racing, Motion Pro, Suomy, and the Bay Area Riders Forum.
What’s that? you want some pictures and a little more history about KazMan? Well, here ‘ya go!
Class Champion in Formula IV 1984, Formula III 1988, and Top 10 Overall Club Points earner in 1988
AMA Pro 1985 to 1989.
Competed in the inaugural MotoGP held at Laguna Seca,Monterey,California, in 1988 and also competed in 1989.
Eric started racing in 1981 with the American Federation of Motorcyclists organization and quickly became a regular in the top 10 positions of the highly contested 600cc class which had grids upward of 60 riders and a half dozen factory supported riders.
In 1982, Eric made the transition to GP motorcycles. With Madco Welding as a sponsor, they put together a program based on Yamaha’s TZ125 which were 2 stroke race only machines. His transition was immediate as he made the podium on his first race and never stepped off of it.
1983 was a productive season with the Madco Welding sponsored TZ125. Eric placed either first or second in all 19 events contested this year which culminated with an AFM class championship.
1984 Eric made the transition to the more powerful and agile Yamaha TZ250. This was the motorcycle which was being ridden at the entry level of the professional AMA series. Eric’s first race inRiverside,CA, resulted in a win against a former class champion and the son of Bud Askland, tuner for World Champion Kenny Roberts. The following year, Eric competed in his first Pro-Am on the 250 and was running 4th place before a chain failure 2 laps from the finish. In front of him were Honda Factory rider, Sam McDonald, who won the series, and Wayne Rainey, eventual winner of the Federation International Motorcyclists (FIM) 500cc World Championship.
1985 combined efforts to race locally as well as selected AMA Pro events which was highlighted by racing at Daytona Speedway finishing in the top 10 in the highly contested international event.
1986 was campaigning a Yamaha FZ600 but his season was dramatically cut short when an on track incident caused by the negligence of a less experienced rider resulted in Eric breaking his ankles, tailbone and back. Highlight of this season was Eric returning later in the season on a friends motorcycle and finishing 2nd after starting in the last spot on the grid of almost 60 riders.
1987 Eric campaigned a Spondon framed TZ250 at select AMA events finishing in the top 10 in all races entered.
1988 would see Eric campaign a 1988 TZ250 in the AFM and AMA. In the AFM, Eric often won the hotly contested FIII races, while finishing in the top 5 in the F1 races against highly modified 1000cc machines with his 250cc motorcycle. Despite the displacement disadvantage, Eric won several of these F1 races, and the combined class efforts culminated in Eric being awarded the AFM’s #10 plate for overall points in the club.
On the professional arena, the results were consistent top 8 finishes against riders such as, John Kocinski, Rich Oliver, Jim Filice, Alan Carter, and Kork Ballington.
1989 would be a struggling year as he attempted to compete in the full AMA schedule campaigning a TZ250 in the Castrol 250 GP series and an FZR600 in the newly established 600 SuperSport class. This year would ultimately bring the retirement from racing. However, this year was highlighted by the birth of his first child, and the beginning of a wonderful 21 year hiatus from a sport he loves very much.
Photos courtesy of 4TheRiders and Max Klein