My tribute to British racer Barry Sheene

One story I want to share was my encounter with the former world champion and Grand Prix racer  Barry Sheene . He was a celebrity, he was an icon, and he was a household name in his native Britain. There is so much to say about him and his accomplishments as the reigning world champion in his era of racing and of his life, it would fill books. These books all were written and a ton of information can be found on the web. Unfortunately, he lost the battle with cancer after refusing chemotherapy in 2003 and left nothing short of a legacy.

Some of the action on this link:   Barry Sheene

I was lucky to have landed a five-minute supporting role within such a glamorous and heroic life and lucky to have had the honor to meet him at the most special race of my own career in 1984 on the Circuit of Hockenheim in Germany. Here is the story and the only pictures existing to this event of the century. I am proud to say that I have cherished my race leathers ever since and the autograph is hardly recognizable anymore but whenever I pull out the leathers to stroll down memory lane, I can feel the sensations of that day. Another short excerpt of:

          Chapter 7    “Passionate Intuition:”                                                         

I was really looking forward to the second race of that season scheduled in Hockenheim. Again, it was the German Grand Prix event, with all the big racing stars in attendance. Barry Sheene was there, of course. I had imagined I would make it a point to finally meet him, but when it came down to it I was too chicken to walk up to him, shake his hand, and babble something incomprehensible in my (at that time) very rudimentary English, so it was probably for the best that I didn’t embarrass myself either way.

The real prize was a surprise Fred arranged for me. He had no boundaries or fear, and knowing my obsession with a certain someone, he arranged for none other than Barry Sheene to visit my trailer after the race! When Barry pulled up on a little scooter he used to get around the paddock, I nearly fell over. It was a stunning moment. I couldn’t find the right words in English, and we all kind of stumbled around with this language barrier. Barry didn’t seem to care; he just parked his scooter and walked over to me. He shook my hand, congratulated me on my finish, kissed my cheek, and then signed his autograph on my leathers.

Fred took some pictures of the whole event, and when Sheene left, I practically passed out; for a week afterward, I was virtually useless, unable to concentrate on much of anything except on my racing fever and finally having met my racing idol in person. I never cleaned those leathers again for fear of wiping off that autograph. I decided I could now die happy. In my world, I was on Cloud “7” with racing and with everything around me. That date of May 13, 1984, in Hockenheim has been firmly lodged in my long term memory ever since, complete with every single detail of events and emotions, even down to the blue sky that day and the electrifying atmosphere, with the screeching engines and the smell of burning rubber and gasoline. It is heavenly to think back on it.


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