When Bazza won the 1976 world cham­pi­onship

EYE­WIT­NESS SPE­CIAL It’s easy to for­get that be­hind the in­juries, and cheeky quips 70s glam­our was a stel­lar rac­ing story of Barry Sheene’s tal­ent. This is the his­toric first 500cc told by those world ti­tle, who were there Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features - By Stu­art Barker MCN WRITER

On July 26, 1976, Barry Sheene wrapped up his first 500cc world cham­pi­onship at An­der­storp in Swe­den, af­ter win­ning the race by 34 sec­onds from Aus­trali­aõs Jack Findlay. To mark the 40th an­niver­sary of Sheeneõs his­toric achieve­ment, we asked those who were there for their mem­o­ries of that in­cred­i­ble sea­son. We also take an in-depth look at the bike that took him to the ti­tle and talk ex­clu­sively to his son Fred­die about his Dadõs last­ing legacy.

The sum­mer of 1976 was a scorcher for the UK, hot­ter and drier than any other year on record. It was also a scorcher for a young British mo­tor­cy­cle racer called Barry Sheene, as he lifted the first of two con­sec­u­tive 500cc Grand Prix world ti­tlee and be­came a global su­per­star and house­hold name in the process.

En­ter­ing that sea­son as the num­ber one rider for the Tex­aco Heron Suzuki team, Sheene had only won two 500cc Grands Prix Ð in Hol­land and Swe­den the pre­vi­ous year. His team-mates on the iconic or­ange-red-and-black liv­er­ied Suzuki RG500S would be fel­low Brits, John Wil­liams and John New­bold, but it would be Tepi Lan­sivuori and Pat Hen­nen that would prove to be his clos­est chal­lengers for the great­est prize in mo­tor­cy­cle sport.

Although there were 10 races on the 1976 cal­en­dar, rid­ers were al­lowed to select their six best scores to count to­wards their over­all tally. With five wins and one sec­ond place, Sheene won the ti­tle by 33 points from fel­low Suzuki rider Lan­sivuori. In fact, such was the dom­i­na­tion of the RG500 Sheene had helped de­velop, that the bikes filled nine of the top 10 places in the cham­pi­onship.

Sheene re­fused to race at the TT and sat out the fi­nal three rounds af­ter wrap­ping up the ti­tle be­cause, bizarre as it may sound now, trav­el­ling to GPS ac­tu­ally cost him money!

Sheene had be­come a star in 1975 af­ter his high-speed crash caused by a tyre blowout at Day­tona had been re­peat­edly shown both in a doc­u­men­tary and on UK news bul­letins, but by clinch­ing the 1976 world ti­tle, he be­came a su­per­star. Not only was he a dev­as­tat­ingly ef­fec­tive mo­tor­cy­cle racer, he was also in­tel­li­gent, charm­ing, multi-lin­gual, good-look­ing and cheeky at the same time Ð a per­fect celebrity cock­tail, and one that en­sured his sta­tus as a main­stream star and a very wealthy man.

This is the story of the sea­son that made Barry Sheene a leg­end, as told by the peo­ple who knew him best.

Stephanie Sheene

Started dat­ing Barry in 1975 and be­came Mrs Sheene in 1984. Mother of his chil­dren, Fred­die and Si­donie.

Steve Par­rish

Met Sheene in 1975 and would be­come his best mate and also his team-mate for the 1977 sea­son.

Pat and Chip Hen­nen

Amer­i­can brothers who took the fight to Sheene in 1976 – Pat as rider and Chip as his right-hand man.

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