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MARCH 11, 2003

Barry Sheene 1950-2003

Barry Sheene was a major figure in motorcycle racing, who won the World 500cc Championship in 1976 and 1977, but who truly found fame with his gritty recoveries from appalling accidents. He was, in some respects, the Niki Lauda of the motorcycle world. In 1978 he was awarded an MBE by the British government for his services to the sport. In the mid 1980s he switched to car racing and took part in the British Touring Car Championship and other international events and did well but he then retired from the sport and moved to Australia where the climate in Queensland made it easier for him to live because the dampness of the British climate caused him pain from arthritis. Barry went on to have a successful career as a TV commentator as a motor racing commentator and was a regular at the F1 race in Melbourne and a close friend of many in F1, notably Gerhard Berger.

Barry was one of those people with whom you would always have to expect the unexpected. Rules were for others but Barry always managed to get away with it because of his boyish charm and because he was who he was. He was one of the sport's most colourful and charismatic individuals and yet a man who was open and friendly to all.

Sheene was diagnosed with cancer last summer and tried to fight the disease with a special diet and radiowave therapy rather than the traditional surgery and chemotherapy. Sadly he has failed in that battle.