A special place in the hearts of all Goodwood fans, let alone motorcycle racing enthusiasts, will always be reserved for Barry Sheene. The double 500cc World Champion and 1970s pin-up loved the Revival Meeting and won the Lennox Cup bike race on no fewer than five occasions, including 2002, just a few months before he lost his fight with cancer in March 2003. Renamed the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy for September 2003, the two-part event still pits current Superbike and TT stars against historic aces and retired legends on indecently quick 1950s/’60s bikes and is a highlight of the event.
One of Barry’s greatest performances in his chosen sport’s premier class came on home ground at Silverstone in the 1979 British Grand Prix – against his bitter rival Kenny Roberts, the outspoken Yamaha ace who had come over from America and relieved Barry of his crown in 1978.
In the 10 Grands Prix up to this, the penultimate event of ’79, Sheene had only won two races – in Venezuela and Sweden – to Roberts’ four – in Austria, Italy, Spain and Yugoslavia – so he was determined to get one over the champion at home and retake the title.
Watch two of the world’s greatest-ever riders duke it out over 28 laps round the flat-out sweeps of Silverstone, still home to the race for the modern-day MotoGP bikes. Marvel, in the company of the irrepressible Murray Walker, at the two-stroke 500cc Suzuki RG500 XR14 of home hero Sheene versus the yellow-and-black Yamaha YZR500 OW48R of King Kenny as they pick their way to the front, grapple with backmarkers during lappery and lean on each other while swapping places throughout – Roberts edging it to the tune of just 0.03s.