The late 1980s and early 1990s are remembered as one of the most competitive eras of Grand Prix racing with a field rich in talent that included Rainey, Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Eddie Lawson, Randy Mamola and Kevin Schwantz in Team Suzuki.
Schwantz was often at a disadvantage in that his Suzukis never seemed to be as fast as those of his Yamaha and Honda mounted rivals. His determination to win at all cost meant that he seemed to crash as often as he won. This trait made him a popular favorite among race fans the world over. His last lap pass of Rainey to win the 1991 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, with his rear tire fish-tailing on the verge of control, typified Schwantz' "do or die" riding style.
He culminated his career in 1993 by winning his only 500cc World Championship. After suffering through a crash-infested 1994 season, the injuries he had incurred over the years began to take their toll on him, as did the career ending injuries suffered by his rival Rainey, at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Early in the 1995 season, after a conversation with Rainey, Schwantz decided to retire from motorcycle competition.