Barry Sheene MBE
(11 September 1950 – 10 March 2003)
Barry Sheene was born on September 11th 1950 and grew up in Queens Square, Holborn, London. He became British 125cc Champion aged 20 and his first Grand Prix was the Spanish 12cc Grand Prix where he took a podium 2nd place. He won his first Grand prix that year, the 50cc GP in Czechoslovakia on a Kreidler. In 1971 he took 2nd place in the World 125cc title including wins in the Belgian, Swedish and Finnish Grand Prix events. In 1972 he took a podium 3rd on Yamaha 250 at the Spanish GP and in 1973 on Suzuki won the Formula 750 World Title. In 1974 he took two podiums places at World 500 GP rounds and in 1975 notched up two 500cc GP wins at the Dutch and Swedish Grand Prix. In 1976 he won five Grand Prix to take the 500cc World Title for Suzuki, and backed that up again in 1977 with six GP wins and the title again. In 1978 he was runner up and in 1979 came third. In 1980 he switched to Yamaha as a privateer and in 1981-1982 had the best factory machines but couldn’t match his earlier success. His last Grand Prix win was the 1981 Swedish Grand Prix and his last podium was a third at the South African GP in 1984 aboard a Suzuki and his last GP race was the San Marino GP that year and came in sixth in the world rankings.
In 1984 he married glamour model Stephanie McLean and they had a son and a daughter. The family moved to Australia in the late 1980s and settled on the Gold Coast. Barry became a motorsport commentator for both car and bike racing on and in his later years became involved with historic motorcycle racing. Sadly the world lost one of colourful characters of motorcycling on March 10th 2003 when he died aged 52 of cancer of the oesophagus and stomach.
Each year the Post Classic Racing Association of Australia host the ‘Barry Sheene Festival of Speed’ at Eastern Creek in his honour and now in New Zealand our historic road race movement will host the ‘Barry Sheene TT Challenge’ in his honour. Come join us at Hampton Downs Labour Weekend and see some of the best presented historic race machines in the world being both displayed, paraded and raced around Hampton Downs by the fast men from Australia and New Zealand.