‘Even clos­ing in on the ti­tle, Barry kept par­ty­ing be­cause it didn’t make any dif­fer­ence’

Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

ac­tu­ally get­ting killed so that’s when I re­alised how se­ri­ous it was. But then I got into the time­keep­ing thing and once I did that it took my mind off be­ing ner­vous and gave me some­thing to con­cen­trate on. I re­mem­ber some of the wives and girl­friends be­ing ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied but, even though I’m a bit of a wor­ry­wart by na­ture, for some rea­son it didn’t bother me too much.

SP: As the world ti­tle got closer, there were more peo­ple want­ing his au­to­graph, more peo­ple wear­ing num­ber 7 T-shirts. He was some­one that peo­ple were just at­tracted to – he was a great hero. But I also un­der­stood the frus­tra­tion of the other rid­ers. I’d beat Barry at Scar­bor­ough or wher­ever and peo­ple would still just push me out of the way to get to him! So I worked out the best thing to do was be in the same garage as Barry and just get in his slip­stream! CH: The PR firm of An­drew Mar­i­ott and Barry Gill had a lot to do with shap­ing Barry’s pub­lic im­age and how he pre­sented him­self to the me­dia and the pub­lic. We had got­ten to know both of them over the sea­son and watched how in­flu­en­tial they were with Barry in those ar­eas. They did things like help Barry pre­pare “canned” re­sponses to the var­i­ous ques­tions the press asked him. They tended to al­ways ask him the same ques­tions and Pat and I no­ticed that Barry’s re­sponses were al­ways the same. Mar­i­ott and Gill also helped ar­range things like TV and ra­dio ap­pear­ances and were, in my opin­ion, two of the best rac­ing PR peo­ple I’ve ever known.

SP: Even as the cham­pi­onship closed in, Barry kept par­ty­ing be­cause it didn’t make any dif­fer­ence. There were no rid­ers back then who said, “Well, I’m go­ing to go to the gym and take it se­ri­ous.” Pat Hen­nen was a lit­tle bit like that be­cause he was Amer­i­can, and he hated it that Barry could party hard, avoid the gym, and still beat him. But by 1978 Barry re­alised he had to start train­ing be­cause Pat had started beat­ing him!

PH: I don’t know what Barry re­ally thought of me, or whether he was ever re­ally con­cerned about me as a rider.

SS: Even if things were go­ing bad at the track, Barry was never mis­er­able at home. I know some of the other rac­ers took things out on their wives but he wasn’t like that. I think he knew noth­ing was go­ing to take it away from him that year.

SP: Barry rode great that year but I don’t think he had a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent style to any­one else. He had gan­gly, skinny legs that stuck out a lot but I don’t think he came along and changed the way of rid­ing a Grand Prix bike be­cause peo­ple were al­ready hang­ing off them. And he was me­chan­i­cally sym­pa­thetic be­cause he un­der­stood en­gines. He was a good all-round rider; he wasn’t mad on the brakes or rad­i­cal in any one area - he was just a re­ally good, smooth rider.

AS: Sheene fi­nally wrapped up the ti­tle at the sev­enth round in Swe­den – although he’d sat out the TT which was still the British round in 1976. So we had two British world champions that year – James Hunt and Barry Sheene, and that seemed very spe­cial. It was a mag­i­cal time. Mo­tor­cy­cling was still viewed as a pretty dan­ger­ous pur­suit but Sheene some­how made it ac­cept­able.

On two With Hunt F1 champ and Sheene British wheels, it was a great time to be No stranger to the glam­ourous side of rac­ing, Sheene was al­ways up for a party The front page of MCN from July 1976 de­clared Sheene’s vic­tory to the UK The chang­ing of the guar

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