With his long flowing hair, a charming lopsided grin, a cigarette in-between fingers, alcohol in one hand and a gorgeous girl in the other, Barry Sheene partied till the early morning and yet won races the next day. This was the super ‘70s, the time before motorcycle racers became more proper, ate healthy, worked out and slept early.
Barry Sheen was a household name in Britain. He was seen in Brut commercials and had his cut-out poster at Texaco stations. He partied with celebrities like James Hunt, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Girls want to be with him and men wanted to be him.
Sheen was also known to set off metal detectors at airports. They called him the bionic man due to the many implants he had from his numerous injuries during his career. In March 1975 while testing at Daytona, his bike locked up, throwing him off violently. The accident was caught on film by a TV crew, which happened to be shooting a documentary on the rising stars of British racing. Sheen suffered a broken right arm and left thigh, compression fractures to several vertebrae, broken ribs and extensive road rash on his back. He said later, "If I’d been a race-horse, I’d have been shot." 7 weeks later, he was back on a GP bike. The TV coverage propelled Sheen to celebrity status. Everyone loved Sheen.
He took the championship in 1976 and again in 1977, both on factory-tuned Suzuki RGB500. The Suzuki two-stroke, square four engine made a huge impact in the Grand Prix grid. It was tuned to 103bhp at 11,250rpm in 1976 and further tuned to 118bhp in 1977. With a magnesium crankcase, weight was reduced to just 135kg. Handling improved with air-assisted Kayaba front suspension. The fairing profile was made slimmer to reduce drag.
For 2 years, Sheen dominated the championship until a young American, Kenny Roberts, came on board to deny Sheene the ‘78 championship. In 1979, Sheene came back with a vengeance. One of the most memorable battles was fought at the British GP at Silverstone. Sheene raised his middle finger to Roberts and for 13 laps, they continued to swap the lead. Battling right to the last corner, Roberts was leading. As he drifted to the outside towards the white paint, Sheene charged from the outside line, kicking up dust in a dramatic fashion but crossed the line in just 0.03 of a second behind. Silverstone was simply unforgetable.
In 1982, Sheene collided with another rider and suffered a serious injury which was worse than the accident in Daytona. He underwent 8 hours of complex surgery to save his badly-damaged leg. It was said to look like a ‘crushed egg’. There was major rebuilding with screws and plates. It took more than 5 months before he was racing again.
Sheene eventually migrated to Australia where the warmer climate was kinder to his injury. In March 2003, at the age of 52, after battling with cancer for 8 months, he passed away.
In 2001, FIM honoured him a Grand Prix “Legend”.
Engine: 2-stroke, Square Four
Weight: 299Ib (136kg)
Power: 120ps @ 11,000rpm
Top Speed: 180mph (290 km/h)
Print Size: A2 (420mm x 594mm)
Approx 16.53" x 23.38"
Print Type: OffSet Lithographic 4C Printing
Paper: Maple White - Acid Free - 220gsm
Take Note: Paper stock base colour do differ slightly from batches to batches due to its 50% recycle properties.
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Discount Code: FRSP
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