Barry SHEENE

SHEE Y AR NE RS ’S E FI V R I S N T A I T R L A E E 4 ANNIVERSAR Y Y 0 40-YEAR - - 0 Y 4 E E 1976 A Spe­cial L R T I A N T I RS VE FI ’S RS EENE ARY SH

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

Alan See­ley

Steve Par­rish: ITV’S tele­vised doc­u­men­tary that in­cluded Barry’s big crash at Day­tona had al­ready made him a huge star in the UK by 1976. But he was also hugely pop­u­lar be­cause of all the girls and the Rolls Royces and all the other things that bik­ers didn’t nor­mally do.

Alan See­ley: 1976 was an age of he­roes. We had Evel Knievel, James Hunt and Barry Sheene so it was a bril­liant time to be a school­boy! Be­tween Knievel and Sheene, how could you NOT be in­ter­ested in mo­tor­bikes?

SS: Was 11 years old in 1976 and ob­sessed with Barry Sheene. He is now a re­spected mo­tor­cy­cle jour­nal­ist. the end of 1975 to treat the in­juries he re­ceived at Day­tona that year, but by the start of the 1976 sea­son, he was fine, although I think his knee was al­ways a bit of a worry af­ter Day­tona. But af­ter tak­ing his first few wins in ’76, Barry be­came very con­fi­dent that he could win the world ti­tle.

SP: Barry was favourite for the ti­tle that year sim­ply be­cause the Suzuki RG500 was so good. When it first came out it was hugely fast but a bit un­re­li­able but it was ob­vi­ous that Suzuki would make it re­li­able. With the four-strokes hav­ing come to an end, it was the bike to have, and Barry was the num­ber one rider in the Suzuki fac­tory team.

Chip Hen­nen: In 1976 Pat and I watched Barry very, very closely on and off the track and lis­tened to his ev­ery ut­ter­ance to learn what we could from him, and we learned quite a lot. I’m sure that’s part of what made Barry so ner­vous about Pat.

AS: Of course, you couldn’t watch the races on TV be­cause they weren’t shown so we had to read about them in Mo­tor­cy­cle News. You’d get news sto­ries on the ra­dio and TV though, telling you how Sheene had done.

SS: Pad­dock life wasn’t as glam­orous as peo­ple might think. At first I was just sit­ting around in pad­docks that had very few ameni­ties so it took a bit of get­ting used to. At least we didn’t have to stay in the pad­dock though – we al­ways stayed in ho­tels. And we trav­elled around in Barry’s Rolls Royce, which was nice!

SP: Barry was a bril­liant rider and won the first three races of the sea­son but I think his big­gest tal­ent was in get­ting the troops be­hind him. He was great at get­ting all the me­chan­ics – even the Ja­panese ones – be­hind him. The tyre peo­ple loved him, the chain peo­ple loved him, the spark plug peo­ple loved him – every­body loved Barry Sheene so he had the whole pad­dock push­ing him along. Tech­ni­cally, he was very good too. He could take an RG500 – or any bike for that mat­ter – to bits and put it back to­gether again. AS: As the mo­men­tum built through­out the sea­son, the me­dia at­ten­tion just grew and grew. Sheene wasn’t only in the mo­tor­cy­cle press – you got posters of him in kid’s mag­a­zines like Look-in and girl’s mag­a­zines like Jackie so he was ev­ery­where. Every­body knew who he was. If you got stopped for speed­ing on a bike in the 1970s the po­lice would in­vari­ably ask “Who do you think you are? Barry Sheene?”

PH: I wasn’t re­ally friends with Barry but, look­ing back, to be hon­est, part of how rac­ers be­come re­ally good rac­ers is by be­ing very fo­cused, to the point of not re­ally de­vel­op­ing close friend­ships with many peo­ple around you.

SS: At first I didn’t re­ally think of the dan­gers when Barry was out on track. But then peo­ple were fall­ing off, left, right, and cen­tre, and peo­ple were

'Every­body loved Barry Sheene so he al­ways had the whole pad­dock push­ing him along’

THE EYE­WIT­NESSES and Lead­ing Wil­liams Pot­ter at the Transat­lantic was race, Mal­lory. Sheene the the only rider to beat Amer­i­cans in 1976 Part fac­tory team, part fam­ily af­fair: Sheene’s fa­ther Frank was never far away

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