Barry Sheene Classic
Barry Sheene made his Scarborough debut in 1970 and immediately rose to the occasion with a record-breaking victory in the 125cc race on his Suzuki machine. He went on to become a household name during the 1970s culminating in two 500cc World Championships in 1976 and 1977 but he remained loyal to Oliver’s Mount throughout this time contesting numerous race meetings with his factory Suzuki and Yamaha Grand Prix machinery.
Despite his World Championship commitments and fame, he was an almost ever present at the Gold Cup meeting, only missing the meeting once in 1982 after the serious injuries he received in practice at Silverstone for the 1982 British Grand Prix.
He won the feature race four times in 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1984, with the latter being his final race victory before retiring from the sport. Conditions that year were far from ideal and Barry found himself locked in battle around the tree-lined circuit with old sparring partner Grant and rising stars David Griffith, Roger Burnett and Rob McElnea, all of them on identical RG500 Suzuki’s.
Griffith won the first leg from Grant and Sheene but Sunday’s ten lap second leg saw Barry roll back the years and take the win and with it the overall victory, the fourth and final time he added his name to the famous trophy as he called time on his illustrious career at the end of the season.
In addition, he won 500cc and MCN Superbike Championship races as well with his battles with Grant highlights of the era as the Cockney Rebel went up against one of Yorkshire’s home-grown heroes. Sheene never hid his love for Oliver’s Mount, holding the outright lap record for a number of years, and often returned to support the meeting, 1996 being a prime example when he rode a 500cc Grand Prix Cagiva in the numerous parade laps to celebrate the venue’s 50th Anniversary.
In total, Sheene won 15 races at Oliver’s Mount and upon his passing in March 2003, the climb from Mere Hairpin to the footbridge on Quarry Hill was named as ‘Sheene’s Rise, the section often seeing Sheene and Grant ascend side by side as the thousands of fans hung off the fences during their titanic battles.
Subsequently, the Barry Sheene Classic Festival was added to the calendar of events at Oliver’s Mount, with the two-day meeting primarily catering for classic machinery – both two-stroke and four-stroke and from 250cc through to Superbikes – but also featuring a small selection of races for modern machinery.
Traditionally held in July, many of the Classic racing leading exponents contest the meeting ahead of August’s Classic TT, and the Superbike class, held over two legs, sees the annual awarding of the Barry Sheene Classic Trophy with previous winners including Ryan Farquhar, Dean Harrison and David Bell.
A plaque in memory of Sheene was unveiled by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in September 2003 and is situated on the start and finish.