SHEENE

ARY RS SH VE EE I N N Barry E ’S A F R I A R E S T Y - 0 I 40-YEAR 4 T ANNIVERSAR E L L E T Y 4 I 1976 0 Spe­cial - Y T S E R A FI R S A E’ NN EN SHE IVE • RSARY

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

Was he a PR man’s dream to work with?

Yes, ab­so­lutely. He didn’t need any as­sis­tance with that at all. Even when we first started with him he knew ev­ery­body – all the Fleet Street boys, the Editor of MCN, and the likes of Peter Jay who was The Sun’s top pho­tog­ra­pher. Barry was on first-name terms with him which was pretty un­usual for a mo­tor­cy­cle racer. I was ghost­ing a lot of ar­ti­cles for Barry back then and we had a big deal with The Sun. For a while Barry did road tests of cars for the pa­per, and the way it worked was Barry would drive around the block, say a few words, and then leave it to me!

Was Barry the first bike racer to have a PR man?

That’s a good ques­tion but I’d be tempted to say per­haps no. Maybe some of the Amer­i­can rid­ers who were com­ing over at that time had PR peo­ple, I can’t quite re­mem­ber. But we were def­i­nitely at the fore­front of that sort of thing.

Chip Hen­nen (Pat Hen­nen’s brother) once said you scripted many of Barry’s wit­ti­cisms. Is there any truth in that?

Did he re­ally? No, that’s com­pletely un­true!

Could he be quite de­mand­ing to work with?

Oh ab­so­lutely, yes. Par­tic­u­larly when there was a deal in hand. He al­ways wanted to have his say on how the deal got done. He was pro­fes­sional about it but he was also very cock­ney about it – even though he was tech­ni­cally from Cen­tral Lon­don and not the East End. He was the bright­est per­son I’ve ever met from that sort of back­ground.

What do you re­mem­ber of the clas­sic 1976 sea­son when Barry won his first 500cc world cham­pi­onship?

I went to vir­tu­ally all the races with him in 1976. He had a good bike in the Suzuki RG500 XR14 and a good set-up that year but it was so dif­fer­ent to how it is now. Barry’s team was a fam­ily team – he sort of ran it al­most as a satel­lite team of Suzuki. Half the time, the bikes were down at his place in Wis­bech, not at Suzuki’s HQ in Croy­don. And, this is how dif­fer­ent things were, he paid his own per­sonal me­chan­ics, although ev­ery­thing was still un­der the of­fi­cial Suzuki um­brella. It was a great sea­son.

Did you have a big party in Swe­den af­ter he won the world ti­tle?

No, I was shut in a room writ­ing my copy for The Sun! They went re­ally big on him win­ning the world cham­pi­onship so I never ac­tu­ally got to go to the party.

Is it true that he got through 30 bot­tles of cham­pagne at the party that night?

It wouldn’t sur­prise me be­cause he loved fine French wines – that was what he drank.

What was the best deal you ever did for Barry?

One of the best was sell­ing the X-rays of his bro­ken legs from the Sil­ver­stone crash in 1982 to the Daily Mail news­pa­per. Barry and I dreamed that one up to­gether and we got quite a lot of money for it. That just shows per­fectly what he was like! Even when he was badly hurt he was right on it, think­ing of all the ways to make a buck.

When did you last see Barry?

I spoke to him a cou­ple of weeks be­fore he died. Ba­si­cally, I worked with him right through his racing ca­reer but we stopped work­ing with him af­ter he moved to Aus­tralia in 1987.

What are you up to these days?

I was ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the movie Stevem­c­queen:the­m­anan­dle­mans, I’ve made hun­dreds of TV pro­grammes for Sky, and I work as a pit­lane re­porter for Fox Sport in Amer­ica and at Le Mans so I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades re­ally.

How do you re­mem­ber Barry Sheene?

I worked with a lot of peo­ple over the years, from Mario An­dretti to James Hunt, Mike Hail­wood and var­i­ous foot­ballers, but Barry was my favourite – my ab­so­lute favourite. James Hunt was frus­trat­ing to work with be­cause he wasn’t very re­li­able but Barry was very re­li­able and very pro­fes­sional and, from a com­mer­cial point of view, he was bril­liant. Peo­ple ar­gue about how good a rider he ac­tu­ally was but as an all-round sports­man, there’s no-one to beat him. An­drew Mar­riott is a vet­eran motorsport com­men­ta­tor, jour­nal­ist and broad­caster with over 40 years ex­pe­ri­ence in car and bike racing. He is the founder of Pit­lane Pro­duc­tions, an all-en­com­pass­ing motorsport con­sul­tancy.

‘He al­ways wanted to have his say on how the deal got done. He was very cock­ney about it’

PR guru An­drew Mar­riott says he’s never worked with any­one to match the great Barry Sheene

ABOVE: Splash on the great smell of Brut… and the great smell of cash that came with the deal that had Sheene all over our screens LEFT: Cheeky, cock­ney and yet al­ways 100% the pro­fes­sional. Sheene au­to­graphed this shot of him­self with Mar­riott Mar­riott

Mar­riott en­sured that Bazza was never far from the pub­lic eye ABOVE: Sheene didn’t take him­self too se­ri­ously, as this beauty from for­mer MCN car­toon­ist John Mock­ett proves RIGHT: With mul­ti­ple world cham­pion Phil Read af­ter the Day­tona crash that made S

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