Not just a talented racer, Barry Sheene was everything that the racers of those days were afraid of being. He rode like a tornado, lived like a rock star and spoke like a rebel. His cornering and wheelies on straights sent his fans into uncontrollable raptures. Not only did he make motorcycle racing popular, he even added a lot of colour and money to it.
Appearing in advertisements and endorsements was something only a chap like Barry, with such a huge fan following, could do. He brought in the culture of coloured leather suits during the days of white and even spoke for a higher fee for the factory riders. Not just that, he raised his voice for rider safety, too, and openly announced his opposition to including the dangerous Isle of Man TT course in the list of World Championship race tracks. He invented a back support system for riders, using old helmet visors, and later sold it to riding gear maker, Dainese.
Sheene also tried his hand at television shows and was even seen in a sci-fi film with his wife. Sheene moved to Australia in the late 1980s with his family in search of a slightly warmer climate for his arthritis. Later, in 2002, he was diagnosed with the cancer of the throat and oesophagus. His state was so bad that he could hardly eat anything. One day he decided to eat and regain his strength. Why? Because he wanted to race for the last time ever at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Not only did Barry win the race, but, rising like a phoenix, he won the hearts of many round the world.