Thursday, June 15, 2017

I, like many of you I suppose, don't know who Barry Sheene is. (If you do, be cool, don't blast me in the comments) but I'm blown away that he just beat Joey Dunlop and Soichiro Honda out for induction into Motor Sport Hall of Fame

Two-time world champion Barry Sheene was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame on 7 June. Sheene topped a 12-strong shortlist following a public vote, joining John McGuinness, Valentino Rossi and the late, great John Surtees among others

‘Fast Freddie’ Spencer raced against Sheene in the early 1980s and added his own memories: “In 1980, I was 18 and had never raced outside the US. I came over for a match race and won, beating Barry – but he was the first person to come up afterwards and say, ‘Good job’. Then, in 1982, I was signing autographs with him and we’d been there about an hour. I began to stir and he said, ‘Where are you going? We stay here until the last person has their signature’. That was the Barry I knew.”

So i looked around online to learn a bit about him...

"The miracle of his consummate 1976 500cc world title was that it came a year after he emerged from the wreckage of his 175mph crash at Daytona, where he broke his leg, six ribs, his back, a wrist and his collarbone. When he came to in hospital, the first thing he did was ask the nurse for ‘a fag’. (Brit speak for cigarette) 

Barry was no saint and for every achievement, such as his 137mph record lap at the treacherous old Spa-Francorchamps circuit, there was a TV thrown from a hotel window.

Yet he was the purest of competitors. Freddie Spencer, twice a 500cc world champion, still remembers fondly that it was Barry who hugged him after his first GP win. And Roberts once told me: ‘I could not have had a greater rival when we went to battle.’

By the late Seventies, Sheene was a bona fide star. He hung out with George Harrison and James Hunt

In his later years he formed a high-jinks gang named “The Squadron” with a bunch of friends including Steve Parrish. Once they underwent a clandestine rescue mission to reclaim £250-worth of goods owed to Sheene’s housekeeper by a former boyfriend. They broke into the house and then made their getaway in a Rolls-Royce.

"Barry worked much more than just twisting the throttle," adds Parrish. "He spoke three or four languages because he knew that if he could communicate with all his mechanics, he could get better equipment from those supplying his bikes.

"There was this huge respect for him in the paddock, not just for his sense of humour but also his technical ability. He would even help rivals sort their bikes out."

And it seems there will be, or was, a movie about him. IMDB says it's in development. So... since it's 18 months since they announced the movie was happening, I'm guessing it isn't going to.

and that's what's cool about this hobby, there are an unlimited number of real true stories out there, more to learn every day


  1. There's a massive ride before every Australian MotoGP in honour of Barry.

    He's legendary out here. I saw him around but never got to meet him. Wish I'd just shaken his hand, but was always in awe.

    It's very much worth watching "When Playboys Ruled The World" on Youtube to get an idea on some of his hijinks, especially involving the equally devilish James Hunt.

    Oh, and Barry's named Freddie.

  2. Xray of Barry's legs:

  3. Don't feel bad Jesse, when somebody is interested in as many areas of motorsports, as well as anything else with a motor, as you are, you can't be an expert on them all. I'm selfish, so I'm grateful your interests are so wide. ;o)

    1. Thanks Bruce! It's impossible to become an expert on any one thing when you don't spend the time focusing on that one thing. Some might say you or I know a lot about cars, we must be experts... right? Shoot, I think anyone that starts to know a lot about one topic will agree that as soon as you know a lot about something, you've learned enough to know you don't know much about it. Learning is just the beginning. If a person is lucky, they choose a simple topic that has a limited amount of information that doesn't take more than a year or so to learn all about.

  4. He was also a regular and popular TV personality in Australia. From the late eighties until early two thousand sometime.