“Men like to see motorcycles; women like the story”. So said my wife after we finished watching this new video on the life of Barry Sheene.
An overly dramatic generalization to be sure, but we seem to agree about this every time we watch a motorcycle video.
There’s a good story here; the incredible life of Barry Sheene, told through many interviews, photos, newsreels and video that have been gathered and edited by Mark Tinkler. The two-disk set includes interviews with fans like Valentino Rossi, Carl Fogarty, Mick Doohan, Damon Hill and Murray Walker, the doyen of motorcycle and motorsports journalists.
The first disk is called a documentary, and although my wife liked the story about Barry Sheene living large — really large — I have to say I found the documentary interesting, albeit slightly on the stuffy side. Sort of like what would happen if they gave the directing job to Bill Moyers. Sorry, Mr. Tinkler…
Nevertheless, the video captures the essence of Sheene’s life and career, from his childhood up to his unfortunate demise from cancer. Sheene was enormously popular and he was one of the first of the “new generation” of made-for-media superstars, although he didn’t know it at the time. Or did he?
His “what me worry?” attitude was juxtaposed with the incredibly dangerous sport of motorcycle racing back in the days when knee pads, armor and back protection were for wimps, and this is what makes him all the more interesting. He won the 500cc World Championship — the MotoGP of its time — in 1976 and 1977, breaking more bones than any score of riders today do in their entire career. But Sheene also became one of the first safety advocates in motorcycle racing, prompting the adoption of better gear (he developed one of the first back protectors and gave one to Kenny Roberts, Sr.) and safer tracks.
The second disk includes some Sheene home movies and some video claimed to be previously unseen. This will probably become the definitive Barry Sheene video history, and I must say that whomever funds things like this should be knighted; as time passes, we lose touch with our history and archives, so any time that someone pulls it all together for posterity they should be rewarded.
I only vaguely remember Barry Sheene; although I started riding in the very early 1970’s, I had no access to any type of media at the time, either in print, radio or otherwise, that allowed me to follow any type of motorcycle racing, much less the far-away World Championship series.
You may not remember or even be aware of Barry Sheene, but like most of the motorcycle books and videos we cover at webBikeWorld.com, increasing your depth of knowledge about every aspect of the sport only increases your enjoyment.
So if you’d like to learn more about the Valentino Rossi of the ’70’s — an apt description, by the way, because Sheene paved the way for characters like Vale — Legacy: A Personal History of Barry Sheene should be in your video collection.