Barry Sheene laps Brands Hatch in a 1976/7 Surtees TS19 Ford in his first F1 drive on 25 April 1978…
It would have been interesting if Bazz gave cars a ‘red-hot’ go from about then, born in 1950 he was 28 and had already won the 1973 Formula 750 and 1976/7 500cc World Titles for Suzuki.
Not too many motor-cyclists have made the transition from bikes to cars successfully at elite level. Three spring to mind; John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and less obviously Johnny Cecotto. His speed and race wins on bikes flowed into F2 drives, badly broken legs in his Toleman Hart during 1984 British GP practice, he had already banged himself about on bikes, ended an F1 career of great promise.
Sheene still had unfinished business on bikes though; always a threat when on a decent machine, he raced on in 500’s, his battles against Kenny Roberts the stuff of legend, his last win the 1981 Swedish GP.
An accident at Silverstone during 1982 British GP practice was one too many. He hit a fallen competitors obscured bike at around 160mph, slid for 150 metres, breaking both legs again, and an arm. Undimished, Sheene had enormous courage and resilience, he raced on into 1983 on a semi-works Suzuki even finishing 8th in the British GP 12 months after the awful accident. Unsurprisingly, his ultimate edge was dulled, he retired from bikes in 1984.
Barry did race touring Cars and trucks prior to emigrating from the UK to Oz in the late 1980’s, he left his beloved Britain in search of sun to help ease arthritis partially caused by his many race prangs down the years.
An immensely likable character, he was soon as popular here as in Europe mixing property development, motorsport TV coverage and commentary with product endorsements. He and Oz Touring Car Legend Dick Johnson did a series of TV ads for Shell for years which both polished its brand and were iconic in terms of their laconic humor. Sadly lost to cancer at the all-too-young age of 53 in 2003.
Roger Lings, Bob Thomas, Patrick Litchfield, Keystone France
Tailpiece: You can be certain the one thing, ‘the two amigos’ aren’t talking about is Texaco…