Born on 11th of September 1950
(Full name and title: Barry Sheene, MBE)
Born: September 11, 1950. Died: March 10, 2003
Barry Sheene was perhaps the most famous English motorcycle racer ever. His fame spread outside of the tight knit world of motorcycle racing thanks to his cheeky personality and also through his keen sense of business. He was one of the first British motorcycle sports personalities to bridge the gap between his sport and mainstream name and fame. He achieved this with some help from the television advertising campaign for a famous brand of men's fragrance. He appeared in these alongside another sporting hero of the Seventies, boxer Henry Cooper.
Apart from his television appearances, he is probably also best known for his spectacular crashes and the resultant horrific injuries he sustained. His first major accident was at the Daytona 200 held in USA during 1975. The high speed spill left him with a collection of broken bones that would have ended the career of the average rider. But Sheene was not average and was back racing within an incredible seven weeks. Another spill, which also resulted in multiple fractures, was at SIlverstone in 1982. Sheene crashed into the wreckage of another fallen rider's bike in practice. He sued the circuit not, he later said, because he wanted the money but because he felt that a point needed to be made about safety.
A great rivalry existed at the height of Sheene's career between him and American racing legend Kenny Roberts. A big show was sometimes made of the pair's battles, which was depicting as a bitter fight between two racers who almost hated one another. The truth was a great deal of mutual respect, and friendship, existed between the pair.
His first World Championship in Grand Prix came in 1976 when he won five victories in the 500cc Grand Prix, enough for the World Championship. He was world champion again in 1977, this time with six victories.
Sheene's injuries were the main reason for him moving to Australia in the late 1980s in the hope of relieving some of the symptoms of his previous injuries in the drier climate there. He became a popular sports commentator for Australian television.
Sheene sadly died of cancer of the stomach and oesophagus. He had achieved superstar status as a motorcycle racer and as a personality. After his death, a corner was re-named in his honour at Brands Hatch. The Londoner was recognised for his exploits when he was awarded the MBE in 1978.
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