Barry Sheene MBE took two 500cc World Championships in 1976 and 1977, though by then his credentials as a racer were well established and he was already hugely popular off-track.
Fighting Angel Nieto for the 125cc title in 1971 and then winning the 500cc Dutch TT in 1975, toying with Giacomo Agostini just months after breaking his leg, collarbone, arm and two ribs in a high-speed spill at Daytona, had already earned Sheene legendary status. His Dutch triumph was the first of 19 wins and 40 podiums in the premier class over nine full seasons.
Sheene gathered numerous British titles and thrilled his army of fans with unforgettable races against Kenny Roberts in the late 1970s and early 80s. He was on-track for a third 500cc crown in 1982 (with five podiums from seven rounds) until the huge practice smash at Silverstone that battered both of his legs and drove his profile into the stratosphere.
He continued to race for two further seasons after that crash, taking his last podium with a brilliant third place ride in the wet at Kyalami in 1984 – a performance he rated as one of his best.
He remains the last British rider to win a premier class race (the 300th, Sweden in 1981) and the UK’s last two-wheeled World Champion.