Barry Sheene

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Barry Sheene
Barry Sheene winner.jpg
Barry Sheene winner
NationalityBritish
Born11 September 1950
Died10 March 2003 (aged 52)
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years1970 - 1984
First race1970 125cc Spanish Grand Prix
Last race1984 500cc San Marino Grand Prix
First win1971 125cc Belgian Grand Prix
Last win1981 500cc Swedish Grand Prix
Team(s)Suzuki, Yamaha
Championships
StartsWinsPodiumsPolesF. lapsPoints
10223521820
 
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Barry Sheene
Barry Sheene winner.jpg
Barry Sheene winner
NationalityBritish
Born11 September 1950
Died10 March 2003 (aged 52)
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years1970 - 1984
First race1970 125cc Spanish Grand Prix
Last race1984 500cc San Marino Grand Prix
First win1971 125cc Belgian Grand Prix
Last win1981 500cc Swedish Grand Prix
Team(s)Suzuki, Yamaha
Championships
StartsWinsPodiumsPolesF. lapsPoints
10223521820

Barry Stephen Frank Sheene MBE (11 September 1950 – 10 March 2003) was a British World Champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer.[1][2]

Contents

Early life

Sheene was born in London, the second child of parents Frank (resident engineer at the Royal College of Surgeons) and Iris. He grew up in Queen's Square, Holborn, London.[3]

Racing career

He became the British 125cc champion aged just 20, and finished second in the World Championships for that class a year later.[2] Sheene won the newly formed Formula 750 European championship for Suzuki in 1973.[4] A spectacular crash at the Daytona 200 in the 1975 season threatened to end his career, breaking his left thigh, right arm, collarbone and two ribs, yet he recovered and was racing again seven weeks afterwards.[3][5]

In 1973, he won the Formula 750 World Championship. In the 1976 season, he won five 500cc Grands Prix, bringing him the World Championship.[2] He repeated as champion in the 1977 season with six victories.[2]

Sheene on the 1980 Akai Yamaha

Sheene's battle with Kenny Roberts at the 1979 British Grand Prix at Silverstone has been cited as one of the greatest motorcycle Grand Prix races of the 1970s.[6][7] After the 1979 season, he left the Heron-Suzuki factory team, believing that he was receiving inferior equipment to his team-mates. He shifted to a privateer on a Yamaha machine, but soon started receiving works equipment. In 1981, Kenny Roberts was the reigning World 500cc Champion for the third time, and Barry Sheene, now on a competitive Yamaha, was determined to regain the championship. Ironically, Sheene and Roberts battled all season and let Suzuki riders Marco Lucchinelli of Italy and American Randy Mamola beat them for the top two spots. Roberts finished third and Sheene fourth for the 1981 championship. A crash during the 1982 season largely ended Sheene as a title threat, and he retired in 1984. He remains the only rider to win Grand Prix races in the 50cc and 500cc categories.[8]

Sheene was known for being outspoken in his criticism for what he considered to be dangerous race tracks, most notably, the Isle of Man TT course, which he considered too dangerous for world championship competition.[1][9] He was a colourful, exuberant character who used his good looks, grin and Cockney accent to good effect in self-promotion, and combined with an interest in business was one of the first riders to make a lot of money from endorsements.[3] He is credited with boosting the appeal of motorcycle racing into the realm of the mass marketing media.[10] He also tried his hand as a TV show host, including the ITV series Just Amazing!, where he interviewed people who had, through accident or design, achieved feats of daring and survival (including the former RAF air gunner, Nicholas Alkemade, who survived a fall of 18,000 feet without a parachute from a blazing Avro Lancaster bomber over Germany in March 1944). Sheene and his wife Stephanie also starred in the low-budget film Space Riders.[3]

Personal life

In 1975 while on crutches, Sheene met fashion model turned glamour model Stephanie McLean, who was Penthouse Pet of the Month for April 1970 and Pet of the Year in 1971, while they were working together on a photoshoot for Chrysler. After she had divorced her first husband, the couple married in 1984, and had two children, a son and a daughter.[3]

Emigration to Australia

The Sheene family moved to Australia in the late 1980s, in the hope that the warmer climate would help relieve some of the pain of Sheene's injury-induced arthritis, moving to a property near the Gold Coast.[3] He combined a property development business with a role as a commentator on motor sport, first at Nine Network with Darrell Eastlake, then moving with the TV coverage of the motorcycle Grand Prix series to Network Ten.[3]

In later years, Sheene became involved in historic motorcycle racing.[1]

Death

He died in 2003 aged 52 of cancer of the oesophagus and stomach, and is survived by his wife Stephanie and two children.[3][11]

Honours and awards

Following reconstruction of the Brands Hatch Circuit in England for safety concerns after requests by the F.I.M., the Dingle Dell section was changed for safety, and shortly after Sheene's death the new section was renamed Sheene's Corner in his honour. The FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend" in 2001.[12] At the 2004 season, V8 Supercars Australia made a memorial medal, calling it the Barry Sheene Medal. A memorial ride from Bairnsdale, Victoria to Phillip Island is held by Australian motorcyclists annually, before the MotoGP held at the island.[13]

In popular culture

On a side note, the obscure Eric Idle song "Mr. Sheene" which describes "Mr. Sheene's riding machine" appears to be about Barry Sheene.[citation needed] It was released as a B-side of the 1978 single "Ging Gang Goolie" and is credited as released by Rutles-offshoot duo "Dirk and Stig." He is also featured on one of Artist Grayson Perry's Vases My Heroes (1994).

Motorcycle Grand Prix results

The following is a list of results achieved by Sheene.[2][14]

Position12345678910
Points1512108654321

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

YearClassTeam12345678910111213PointsRankWins
1970125ccSuzukiGER
-
FRA
-
YUG
-
IOM
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
FIN
-
ULS
-
NAT
-
ESP
2
1213th0
197150 ccKreidlerAUT
-
GER
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
CZE
1
SWE
4
NAT
-
ESP
-
236th1
125ccSuzukiAUT
3
GER
-
IOM
NC
NED
2
BEL
1
DDR
2
CZE
3
SWE
1
FIN
1
NAT
3
ESP
3
792nd3
250ccDerbiAUT
-
GER
-
IOM
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
6
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ULS
-
NAT
-
ESP
-
533rd0
1972250ccYamahaGER
-
FRA
-
AUT
4
NAT
-
IOM
-
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
DDR
-
CZE
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
ESP
3
1813th0
1974500ccSuzukiFRA
2
GER
-
AUT
3
NAT
-
IOM
-
NED
-
BEL
-
SWE
-
FIN
-
CZE
4
306th0
1975500ccSuzukiFRA
-
AUT
-
GER
-
NAT
-
IOM
-
NED
1
BEL
DNF
SWE
1
FIN
-
CZE
-
306th2
1976500ccSuzukiFRA
1
AUT
1
NAT
1
IOM
-
NED
1
BEL
2
SWE
1
FIN
-
CZE
-
GER
-
721st5
1977500ccSuzukiVEN
1
AUT
-
GER
1
NAT
1
FRA
1
NED
2
BEL
1
SWE
1
FIN
6
CZE
-
GBR
NC
1071st6
1978500ccSuzukiVEN
1
ESP
5
AUT
3
FRA
3
NAT
5
NED
3
BEL
3
SWE
1
FIN
NC
GBR
3
GER
4
1002nd2
1979500ccSuzukiVEN
1
AUT
12
GER
NC
NAT
4
ESP
NC
YUG
NC
NED
2
BEL
DNS
SWE
1
FIN
3
GBR
2
FRA
1
873rd3
1980500ccYamahaNAT
7
ESP
5
FRA
NC
NED
NC
BEL
-
FIN
-
GBR
NC
GER
-
1015th0
1981500ccYamahaAUT
4
GER
6
NAT
3
FRA
4
YUG
5
NED
NC
BEL
4
RSM
2
GBR
NC
FIN
NC
SWE
1
724th1
1982500ccYamahaARG
2
AUT
2
FRA
-
ESP
2
NAT
-
NED
3
BEL
2
YUG
3
GBR
DNS
SWE
INJ
RSM
INJ
GER
INJ
685th0
1983500ccSuzukiRSA
10
FRA
7
NAT
9
GER
NC
ESP
-
AUT
13
YUG
13
NED
NC
BEL
-
GBR
9
SWE
NC
RSM
NC
914th0
1984500ccSuzukiRSA
3
NAT
NC
ESP
7
AUT
10
GER
10
FRA
5
YUG
7
NED
NC
BEL
9
GBR
5
SWE
NC
RSM
NC
346th0

References

Further reading

External links