Sydney Motorsport Park will host the 11th anniversary of the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed from 18-20 March.
The Festival is much more than just a motorcycle race…it is a showcase of riders from bygone eras and the machines on which they honed their skills.
Six grand prix stars will be gracing the Eastern Creek grounds including two-time World 500 Champion Freddie Spencer who first won the 500 title in 1983 and won it again in 1985. That same year he also won the 250cc World Championship racing a special V-twin factory Honda. Alongside Spencer is Texan Kevin Schwantz, whose GP career overlaps that of Spencer.
Fittingly, Schwantz’s first ride on a 500cc four cylinder two-stroke is attributed to Sheene after he’d witnessed Schwantz’s performances in the Anglo-American Match Race Series in Britain. In 1986 he persuaded Heron Suzuki’s Denys Rohan to get one of his old bikes out of the museum and let Schwantz race it in the Race of the Year at Mallory Park.
This lead to wildcard rides for Suzuki in 1987 before Schwantz joined the grand prix series in 1988 as a full-time rider.
Joining Spencer and Schwantz is one of Sheene’s closest friends, Steve ‘Stavros’ Parrish, who also raced in the World 500 Championship and went on to be a GP team manager.
Four-times world champion Kork Ballington of South Africa will also grace the paddock as well as Irish rider and former MotoGP 250cc winner Jeremy McWilliams.
Also racing is New Zealander Graeme Crosby who Schwantz, after spending two days trying to match the retired Crosby’s time said, “I’ve never heard of this old guy, but dang he’s fast”.
The Women in Motorcycle racing will be represented by former record holder and Isle of Man TT podium finisher Maria Costello.
Representing Australia is the ‘Horsham Hurricane’ Kevin Magee, onboard a Yamaha YZR500cc GP Bike.
Maria Costello on Paton 500 at the IOM TT 2015 (this bike is being shipped out from Switzerland and belongs to Peter and Barbara Beugger)
Chris Vermulen, the 2003 World Supersport Champion, will be riding a Suzuki XR35 500cc GP bike.
Here’s some of the machinery that will be on track and on display throughout the weekend:
- Suzuki XR14 RG500 1975 – The original bike that Barry Sheene rode in 1975 (to be ridden by Jeremy McWilliams)
- Suzuki XR84 500cc – Kevin Schwantz factory 1994 bike (to be ridden over the weekend by Kevin)
- Suzuki RG 500 MK6 (to be ridden over the weekend by Steve Parrish)
- Honda RS 500 (Triple 500cc) to be ridden by Freddie Spencer
- Yamaha YZR500 (1993) to be ridden by Kevin Magee
- All Ex Team Kawasaki Bikes some to be on static Display and other to be ridden over the weekend by Kork Ballington, Graeme Crosby and Murray Sayle.
Freddie’s Honda RS500R 3 cylinder two stroke, owner Paul Galles from Luxemburg
Kevin Schwantz’s original factory Suzuki XR 84 500cc bike that he rode in the 1994 World Championships, now owned by Steve Wheatman from the UK
As in previous years there will be a host of trade displays and stands, bike club displays and the ever popular spectator parade laps giving riders a chance to share the track with legends.
QBE Barry Sheene Festival of Speed
Where: Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek, NSW