RRR tak to Freddie Spencer
Motorcycle road race legends Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer and Jeremy McWilliams are in Sydney this week for the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Sydney Motorsports Park. The trio dropped into the offices of Ride Rage Radio earlier this week for a chat with RRR presenters Phil Harlum and Tim Graham. This interview with Freddie Spencer was conducted in March, 2016, ahead of the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed.
Freddie Spencer Interview
Phil: Freddie thanks for coming back to Australia. You obviously enjoyed the BSFOS so much last year that you put it in your calendar on the plane on the way home.
Freddie: Absolutely, and I want to say again it’s just a pleasure to be here ,and Peter and everybody and the whole organisation last year welcomed me and it went so well that I think it’s great for all the Australian fans
Phil: One of the best things about you last year, for someone had never met someone who achieved such great heights in the sport we all love, would have been completely blown away by the humble nature that you’ve got. You didn’t stop all weekend talking to people, shaking hands having your photo taken and signing autographs. And as we said to Kevin you know that the parade lap is just that.
Freddie: Well Kevin and I have done quite a few of these things together. But you talk about the fact of…. from my standpoint of….but to me….it is really a privilege that fans come out and motorcycling ….I’ve been doing this 49 years….Ive been riding since I was 4 years old. So for me it’s kinda full circle. When I started out riding as a kid it was about the experience of riding…so to go through all the years of racing, good bad and indifferent and at this point of my motorcycling it’s great to just be able to give back and share what motorcycling has meant to me. Again, It’s a privilege.
Phil: One thing we spoke about last time was that some young upstart from Spain has broken a lot of your records, but a lot of people still think that those efforts that you did back in those days when you won those two 500 championships and the two in one year which was the big one, it’s something people seem to remember a lot and that it will never be done again.
Freddie: Well certainly it’s a different era in that respect and the whole point in the two championships and winning the both together is that today you may not see the opportunity. I know that after Marc won the 2nd championship in a row they asked him about doing it and he said he thought about it for about five days and that was it. But any record could be broken and Marc could have had a shot at it. And Valentino last year had the possibility of doing it.
Tim: But no one can ever do the same record as there’s no more 500’s and no more 250’s.
Freddie: Times have changed and doing that championship, one of the races that stand out, the 1985 the Italian Grand Prix and I’m on the podium and I’ve just won the most difficult 500 race that year and it was just so hot, I remember, I’m standing there and of course I can’t drink the champagne and I’m trying to shake the bottle, but my hand is so tired….all I could do was hand the bottle to Eddie…..who said I’ll drink for both of us…….and I’m holding the bottle with both hands as my hands are that tired. And I hear the 250’s coming out of the paddock for the warm up for the sighting lap……and I’m barely able to hand him this bottle of champagne….as I’d torn my tricep at Salzburgring which nobody knew…and I’m running off to the bike and Tony Mang was waiting for me in the paddock and he wasn’t going to leave until I did. And we did the sighting lap and then we killed the engines and I was sitting there trying to drink as much I can. And we used to bump start them then…..and they throw the flag and everything went in slow motion……and bikes are going past me….and I’m pushing as hard as I can………and I thought I really got to get a good start cause I’m so tired….and I’m 19th on the 1st lap……… But it turned out OK, I took the lead with about 6 laps to go. But it was the most difficult race weekend….but those moments were the greatest ones.
Phil: Back in those days you would have been racing Kork Ballington too?
Freddie: At that time he was doing the 500, but it was Tony Mang that I was battling with, with Carlos, Sarron, Lawson.
Phil; I suppose last year you got to come out and do a few laps around the Eastern creek venue, was that the first time you had ridden here?
Freddie: No, I’d ridden the first one back in 1993. But I hadn’t ridden here since then.
Phil: I suppose it’s one of those tracks…did it really suit a 500?
Freddie: Well you know…tracks are basically what you make them be…..there’s been tracks……..like Jarama in Spain….very good on a 250, but difficult on a 500. But I always approach every track the same and it’s as difficult as you’re willing to make it….there’s certain tracks….Like Spa is my favourite track……and I like Phillip Island……Because I like flowing tracks……..and riding bikes has always been for me about precision. About making the bike move and getting the right angle and there’s nothing greater than on a day when you can ride a 500 to it’s limit….and somewhat control it….you never had complete control of it….because at that moment….it would teach you who’s boss and pitch you over the high side.
Phil: Tell us about the bike you’re going to be riding this year?
Freddie: Well it’s the RS500 the three-cylinder…and you know I have such a relationship with that…..cause that was kind of built by HRC for me.
Phil: And what’s the biggest thing about coming back to Australia for the 2nd year? What was the main drawcard for you coming back? Obviously we had pretty good crowds last year.
Freddie: To me these classic events are insuring motorcycling history. I believe that motorcycling is such a passionate sport. It’s very local. And the opportunity we have to come and get involved in a local and national level and for people to get to see the 500’s run, is something that you don’t normally get to see. And the bike I’m riding is a similar bike to what I raced. But we love spending time with you and talking about it.
Tim: And it’s the only place you get to see two strokes.
Phil: Thanks Freddie for coming back, thanks for being in the ride rage studio.
Freddie: Make sure you all come out and see us on the weekend.
This interview was conducted in March, 2016, ahead of the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed.