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it be­cause Sheene re­fused to do the race for safety rea­sons and now I was re­fus­ing on the same grounds. When I signed my con­tract for ’78 it did not in­clude the TT. Just be­fore Christ­mas, Knight phoned to tell me there had been a change in plans and that the trans­porter I had ex­pected to use was not go­ing to be avail­able so I was go­ing to have to buy my own. How­ever, he said that if I changed my mind about the TT he would do what­ever was nec­es­sary to make the trans­porter avail­able to me. He knew I couldn’t af­ford to buy my own trans­porter and it was too late in the year to ar­range one from a spon­sor, so I re­lented and agreed to do the TT.’

So what hap­pened at the TT? Hen­nen had just posted the first sub20-minute lap of the TT Course in the Se­nior and was lead­ing the race when he crashed at more than 170mph at Bish­op­scourt. ‘I re­mem­ber the start of the race and the first lap or so but noth­ing af­ter that so I only know what peo­ple tell me,’ Hen­nen says. ‘When I vis­ited the Isle of Man in 1984 a woman ap­proached me and said she ac­tu­ally wit­nessed the ac­ci­dent. Ap­par­ently Tom Her­ron and I went through the cor­ner to­gether – he was on the out­side, right next to me. I clipped the in­side kerb with my rear tyre and it sent me cat­a­pult­ing down the track. I do know I didn’t strike a bird with my hel­met or any­thing like that be­cause I still have the hel­met I was wear­ing and the vi­sor isn’t ob­scured at all. The fact is that rac­ing can be very dan­ger­ous.’

Did Hen­nen re­cover? Re­cov­ery was very slow and grad­ual as Hen­nen, now 62, suf­fered brain dam­age in the crash. He still has im­pair­ments to his speech, mem­ory, and mo­bil­ity but lives a fairly nor­mal life now in the San Fran­cisco Bay area. ‘Af­ter I re­tired from rac­ing I worked for Em­mick En­ter­prises, a well-known man­u­fac­turer of rac­ing go-karts in the US,’ Hen­nen says. ‘Then I worked for United Air­lines for about 12 years, in the Tur­bine Shop, where we did main­te­nance work on jet tur­bine en­gines. I then went to work as an ap­pli­ca­tion en­gi­neer for Mo­tion Pro – one of the largest dis­trib­u­tors of mo­tor­cy­cle parts in the U.S. I’m still very in­ter­ested in rac­ing and cer­tainly don’t feel cheated by the sport. I hon­estly wouldn’t change a thing.’

Back in the days when even the top guys raced ev­ery­where, Hen­nen (23) leads team-mate Sheene ( 7) at Oul­ton. Sheene felt threat­ened by the US up­start Hen­nen is still part of the bik­ing world

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