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Freddie Spencer - what was the deal there?


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#1 ghinzani

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 13:54

Watching Motors TV's excellent Motorsport Memory series reminded me of when I first started to take notice of Bike GP racing in 85 and Freddie seemed invinvible, winning the 250 & 500 in the same year. Yet he dissapeared almost as quickly as he arrived. What happened? Injury, drink, drugs, women or what? I have heard he has been around the tracks recently, but surely this is a waste of talent on a massive scale. He must have had it in him to have dominated the late 80s like Rossi is doing now? I recall vaguely that he was going to race in the Barber-Saab series but I dont recall his results? Anyone shed any light on this enigma?

Thanks

ps did they ban people from competing in more than one class these days or did people realise its just too much bother risking yourself on a 250 when theres a 500 that needs riding?

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#2 ian senior

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 14:04

Wasn't it some kind of injury?

#3 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 14:21

Freddie left the scene very rapid indeed. I vaguely remember something with his knee, but this was a rumor. Other rumors where that he was burned out, or even had seen succes to quickly, and too rapid, or too much attention all of a sudden. He tried to make a comeback in 1992, but soon found out that Doohan, Rainey, Schwantz et al were far too fast (despite a test at Kyalami where he was only 0.2 sec of Gardners fastest lap of that year GP).

This is what I googled:

"Today Spencer owns and operates the very successful Freddie Spencer's High Performance Riding School, situated at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Spencer's school, designed for riders of all abilities, reaches out to novice riders - who wish to improve their street riding -- as well as racers who dream of winning world championships. Spencer and a select group of highly skilled instructors - who are renowned for their personal touch - coach students using specially equipped Honda CBR600 motorcycles. For more information, go to: http://www.fastfreddie.com."
From: www.motorsports-network.com

Indeed the website of his school comes out first during googling. Lets take a course!

Still #19 remains in our memory as that fast young gun, unique double champ!

#4 philippe7

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 15:02

The Spencer case needs to be explained in a little more details , if only out of respect for his great talent of which a large share was obviously wasted . It's not simply a case of "star in 85 and then disappeared" . There is a bit of a myth though about the "extraordinary" level of his 1985 250/500 double world title : while I do not whish, I repeat, to cast any doubt about the level of his talent, little mention is made today of the very strong technical advantage he had that season , not so much in the 500 class where the V4 Honda (that he was the only one to be allowed to use for the whole season) was powerful but difficult, but specially in the 250 class where his unique real factory Honda was miles ahead of all the opposition, as the other "semi-works" or "supported" Honda riders found out in 86 when they got the roughly same model .

Freddie Spencer arrived on the GP scene in 1982 , preceded by a very positive ( and deserved ) reputation he had gained the previous years in the USA , and during his few occasional european appearances . He fared well in the factory Honda team with the first 500 V-3 model , notably outclassing reigning World Champion Marco Luchinelli on the same bike , and won his first GP's

In 1983 , still with the V3 Honda, he fought all season and until the last race with Kenny Roberts , to win his first World Title after a splendid season, and against strong opposition.

1984 was his first "off" year , on a prototype V4 Honda which proved very difficult to handle , and pitched him off a couple of times . And strangely enough , although Freddie was rather fearless on his bike , those falls seemed to have uncommonly strong effects on him . The first rumours in the press started then , about a supposed disease that was making his bones weaker and more likely to heal badly....

In 1985 , with a now usable V4 and a terribly efficient 250 V2 , he stormed the opposition as is fairly well known .

Trouble hit again at the start of 1986 , when he started to suffer from a syndrome in the tendons of his forearms, which led him to quit after a few laps in the first GP's of the year, before disappearing altogether to be treated back home in the States...

He came back in 1987 , on an unsponsored factory Honda ( which does show that Honda still reckoned his talent, but maybe didn't wish to get into a potential conflict with Rothmans for non-appearance of the number one rider .....) . Fell and hurt himself at the first GP in Japan , came back late in the season to lead a few laps of the British GP before, again , retiring for physical ailments..

Early before the start of the 1988 season, he announced he was retiring from the sport....first retirement .

He however came back as a member of the Marlboro Yamaha 500 GP team at the start of the 1989 season . Unfortunately, a shadow of his former self . Overweight , unfit , unable to cope with the Yamaha chassis style , he gave up ( or was respectfully requested to leave ) half way through the season . End of first comeback

After a few years off he started to race again on Superbikes in the US , and showed sufficient glimpses of speed to be offered a ride for the 1993 season by the french Sonauto-Yamaha team . There was a lot of scepticism about this new comeback, which unfortunately proved justified since Freddie was totally out of his depth , and this second comeback ended once again half way through the season . There is little doubt now that his drafting was a desperate last bluff by the Sonauto team, who had never recovered from Christian Sarron's retirement and were after a media coup to justify keeping their factory Yamaha's and their Gauloises sponsor .....

So Spencer's career end was unfortunately not very glamourous . Some people were angry with him , for having spoilt the magical memories he had left them with , and not having stopped in 1986 , at the top of his glory . On the other hand , I don't think Freddie did those comebacks for the money, which he probably had enough of , but purely for the passion of the sport and seeking to be again what he had once been....pathetic maybe, but however totally respectable.....

#5 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 15:05

From The 500cc World Champions by Michael Scott -

"Freddie was supreme. First away, fast for ever, marvellous to see. What went wrong after that? Every thing. Freddie ran out of physical strength with a series of injuries and a bad case of Racer's Wrist. He seemed to run out of motivation, having achieved so much by the age of 23, telling me "I don't see myself racing into my late twenties". Two more years with Honda saw a steady decline and at the beginning of 1988 Spencer announced his retirement. (He returned in 1989) but Freddie had agined weight and (it seemed) lost his greatness".

After a number of heavy crashes, and the realisation that younger, fitter riders were quicker than him, he finally retired for good.

#6 Greystone

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 15:05

Freddie Spencer won the 1983 500cc championship on a Honda triple and the 1985 250cc and 500cc championships on a twin and four respectively. Freddie was one of the greatest natural talents of his era but , in my view, saw racing motorcycles as part of the greater picture of his life, not necessarily the only goal as some riders do.

My view is that if you compare him with his greatest adversary of the time, Eddie Lawson, you have opposites. In terms of natural ability Eddie Lawson made more out of less and Freddie made less out of more, although perhaps this was not necessarily of his own doing. In terms of professional dedication the reverse was the case.

No one can deny that Spencer performed exceptionally in 1985 by winning two championships, although if you look back to the days of Hailwood, Agostini, Read, Surtees etc. two, or more classes in a day was the norm.

Could it happen today? That is very unlikely in my view. Each class is much more specialised and intense that it was twenty years ago and I am not even sure if the rules would permit it. If it were to be attempted today I believe that there is only one current racer who could achieve this and I'm sure that I don't need to mention who that would be.

Following his championship win in 1985 Spencer succumbed to the scourge of many motorcycle racers - Tendonitis. After he recovered from that he was never the same racer again. He competed for a few more years in the GP world championship on Honda and Yamaha with mediocre results. This was followed by a period in the US Superbike championship, on Ducati IIRC. Again results were mediocre. He formally retired in 1996.

Regarding drink, drugs and women, Freddie was very religious and nearly became a Presbyterian minister instead of a motorcycle racer. He was always one of the clean living guys on the circuit and, to the best of my knowledge, there were never any issues in those areas.

The first time that I saw Freddie Spencer was at the 1980 Transatlantic Trophy races at Brands Hatch. There were all of the established stars competing at the time - Roberts, Sheene, Mamola, Haslam etc. I was standing on the bank at Clearways when the first race started. The pack went out of sight onto the GP circuit with all of the established fast men at the front. The best part of a minute later, at the end of the first lap, a lone silver TZ750 Yamaha shot out from under the bridge at Clearways with a lead of between 50 and 100 yards on the rest of the field. That was Freddie Spencer, the first time that he had been seen outside of the U.S.

Andrew

#7 subh

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 15:49

It must be worth mentioning that Freddie won the AMA Superbike race at Laguna Seca in 1995. Apparently, he “was stunning in victory ... simply took off in a rainstorm on Monday morning and never looked back, leading by as much as 23 seconds at one point, only to slow with fatiguing tyres as the track began to dry.” He was ninth in that year’s final standings.

#8 MoMurray

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 16:37

Intersting thread. I don't think Freddie's talent was wasted. I also don't think there was ever a hint of alcohol or drug abuse about him. I believe Greystone is correct in that although he was dedicated to the quest in the early eighties, it was not the all consuming dedication that ruined the last few years of Raineys riding career. I think he believed life was about more than racing. He is now a respected elder (still quite young) of the US race scene and is very, very tight with Honda. He is often seen in the factory Honda pit at AMA races and I know they use his school to evaluate young talent. He also announce AMA races on TV.

I think the tendonitis was real but the will to recover and get back into the fray, against his own desires, was not as strong as his fans would have hoped. Remember, in Michael Scott's Rainey book, Rainey talks of a huge sense of relief when he realized he would neer ride again.

I like Spencer and think he was very good for the sport and the only one who can judge whether he wasted his talent or not is the man himself. When you see him on TV or at the events, he does not project the visage of frustration or under achievement, rather the same confidence that he showed in 1983-85.

Just as a personal aside, in 1987, we were testing at the old Hockenhiem one vey wet day and Spencer and the red and white Honda showed up. This was something of a surprise as he was not the most reliable at arriving for races that year. Antway, he got on that bike and in the rain and on an empty track, proceded to absolutely ring it's neck. Man he could ride! You could hear the scream of the V4 all the way around the circuit and I recall all present stopped what they were doing just to listen. It was surreal.

Mo.

#9 subh

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 17:04

For those interested, here are his Grand Prix stats:

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#10 philippe7

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 17:25

Originally posted by subh
For those interested, here are his Grand Prix stats:


Ooops....you just saved me from making a fool of myself Subh....I was pretty sure that Freddie's european appearance on his "silver TZ 750" was in 1981 , and not 1980 as Greystone had written.....but thankfully your list made me think twice ! It was indeed in 1980 that Freddie rode a few european races with his "silver" racers , which included a rented TZ500 Yamaha for the Belgian Grand Prix held, unusually, at Zolder that year . His 1981 GP entry was , IIRC, at Silverstone for the British GP where he rode the mythical 4-stroke NR500 Honda and featured quite well before retiring, well better anyway that the NR had ever done before......

#11 subh

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 22:41

Erv Kanemoto is quoted as saying, “I often realised during the ’85 season that Freddie was working very, very hard. We rode two practice sessions in each class for three days and then two full Grand Prix races on Sunday, and we were up against the best in the world. Some people believed that maybe we had it easy in 250, but Carlos Lavado and Toni Mang, especially Lavado on the Yamaha, were pushing Freddie every inch of the way. It was a great thing that Freddie was able to accomplish in 1985, but I often ask myself if the toll he paid was the rest of his career.”

The above is from the Motocourse 50 years volume, where Dennis Noyes, via Kanemoto, relates that Freddie’s problem “was not tendonitis, but a serious condition called carpal tunnel syndrome.” The effect of which was that he would gradually lose feeling in his right hand, stopping him from feeling the brake lever.

There are two books: The Champions: Freddie Spencer, by Michael Scott; and Fast Freddie: The Man and his Machines, by Nick Harris and Peter Clifford. They both came out in the mid-1980s, so don’t tell the full story, but the second of these starts out with the tale of his first European race - the 1980 Transatlantic Trophy at Brands, as described here by Andrew.

#12 angst

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 22:59

Originally posted by subh
Erv Kanemoto is quoted as saying, “I often realised during the ’85 season that Freddie was working very, very hard. We rode two practice sessions in each class for three days and then two full Grand Prix races on Sunday, and we were up against the best in the world. Some people believed that maybe we had it easy in 250, but Carlos Lavado and Toni Mang, especially Lavado on the Yamaha, were pushing Freddie every inch of the way. It was a great thing that Freddie was able to accomplish in 1985, but I often ask myself if the toll he paid was the rest of his career.”

The above is from the Motocourse 50 years volume, where Dennis Noyes, via Kanemoto, relates that Freddie’s problem “was not tendonitis, but a serious condition called carpal tunnel syndrome.” The effect of which was that he would gradually lose feeling in his right hand, stopping him from feeling the brake lever.

There are two books: The Champions: Freddie Spencer, by Michael Scott; and Fast Freddie: The Man and his Machines, by Nick Harris and Peter Clifford. They both came out in the mid-1980s, so don’t tell the full story, but the second of these starts out with the tale of his first European race - the 1980 Transatlantic Trophy at Brands, as described here by Andrew.


Thanks for that. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a terrible affliction - I don't believe there is a cure, as such. So the magnificent achievement of '85 is quite possibly what forced a halt to his career. A pity, because he really was such an exciting talent. Good to hear though that there is no regret for him - why should there be? He'll always be one of the very best.

#13 ghinzani

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 23:25

I think the regret just lies with us, but hey if you've been to the top of mountain and seen the promised land then perhaps you dont need it so much anymore? Thanks everyone for setting me straight on Fast Freddie. Bizzarely I think my Mother has carpal tunnel. Cant say she's won any Bike GP's though! ;)

#14 ehagar

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 02:32

Ah... I see that carpal tunnel syndrome has been mentioned. I have heard explanations to the effect that he lost feeling in his hand, exactly as subh has described.

The only thing I would like to add is that Spencer had absolutely incredible throttle and brake control. He would enter a corner so fast that he would literally overload the front tyre, *then* add throttle to relieve pressure on the front tyre and somehow avoid highsiding.... he was hyper-precise in what he did.

He was the master of throttle roll on and roll off, and could simulataneously apply various levels of throttle and brakes (to essentially settle suspension).

It has been said by some that his competitors were convinced that Spencer had an advantage with torque out of the corners when riding the 3-cylinder bike. It has been even said that the reason that Kenny Senior chose a 3-cylinder 2 stroke for the Proton came because of his battles with Spencer.

As far as drugs or women, I highly doubt it. Spencer was, and as, a squeeky clean character. So much so that the King took to calling him, 'That bleeping choir boy'.

#15 wildman

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 04:44

Originally posted by ehagar
The only thing I would like to add is that Spencer had absolutely incredible throttle and brake control. He would enter a corner so fast that he would literally overload the front tyre, *then* add throttle to relieve pressure on the front tyre and somehow avoid highsiding.... he was hyper-precise in what he did.



Make that "has." One of the most valuable experiences of my 45 years was doing the Spencer school in Las Vegas a few years ago, highlighted by a lap of the LVMS road course on the back of a CBR954 piloted by The Man himself. He may not be ready to do battle with Rossi anytime soon, but he still has some otherworldly skills. (Hence his nickname, 'E.T.') With two up, he'd have the bike leaned over at angles that most riders wouldn't try solo. And so smooth on the throttle and brakes as to make the whole affair seem completely effortless. Not to mention that he's an outstanding teacher and surpassing gentleman off the bike - one of the great ambassadors for all of motorsports.

#16 theunions

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 06:51

Freddie has also done reports on AMA and other cycling events for Speed News on Speed Channel for at least the past year.

#17 Macca

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 13:17

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome became a major problem for bike GP riders in the mid-80s with the huge iron brakes, so much that several had surgery to open up the tunnels in order to continue their careers. Freddie took a wider view of life and wouldn't do that.

When carbon brakes came into common use, requiring only two fingers on the lever to get enough retardation, the problem tended to disappear in recent times.

The NS500 was an outstandingly compact and light bike and Freddie could push it to its limits, turn it on a sixpence and use all of its power, which Roberts couldn't do on tight circuits with the bigger V4 Yamaha which still had rotary valves in 1983 - it was better on fast circuits.

With Honda breaking the manufacturers' pact about no full works 250s in 1985 with Spencer's bike, Yamaha brought out a v-twin for Lavado late in the season, with which he won in 1986 - if it had been ready for all of 1985, Freddie would have had an even bigger fight, as old 'Careless Bravado' was at the top of his form.

Paul M

#18 MoMurray

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 16:23

Just for you Ghinzani...

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I took these in Daytona but I can't remember when...blame Mr. Bushmills!

I am glad this thread is developing the way it is...as a tribute rather than a critique of Fast Freddie. I once heard a funny story from someone who was very close to Honda in the early eighties that illustrates how highly they regarded Spencer.

Early in his career Freddie was invite to a formal dinner in Japan with Mr. Honda and a host of other senior Big Red execs. Freddie apparently hated japanese food and was terrified at the prospect of having to eat it so as not to embarrass his hosts, knowing how high on protocol they are. When the meal was presented under silver domes, Freddie was relieved to see that while everyone else at the table had some variety of raw fish, he was presented with a Cheeseburger and Fries.

They should have revered him. Remember he was the first to win the 500 championship for them and the first since Hailwood in '67 to win a chmpionship at all.

Mo.

#19 subh

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 19:22

He was with Fast By Ferracci Ducati Corse USA in 1995, with the 916, so that will be when.

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#20 MoMurray

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 19:44

Yeah...what he said...;)

Mo.

#21 fines

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 14:09

Originally posted by philippe7
The Spencer case needs to be explained in a little more details , if only out of respect for his great talent of which a large share was obviously wasted . It's not simply a case of "star in 85 and then disappeared" . There is a bit of a myth though about the "extraordinary" level of his 1985 250/500 double world title : while I do not whish, I repeat, to cast any doubt about the level of his talent, little mention is made today of the very strong technical advantage he had that season , not so much in the 500 class where the V4 Honda (that he was the only one to be allowed to use for the whole season) was powerful but difficult, but specially in the 250 class where his unique real factory Honda was miles ahead of all the opposition, as the other "semi-works" or "supported" Honda riders found out in 86 when they got the roughly same model .
...

I respectfully disagree! His 'technical advantage' was not in the bikes, but in his riding style. This was also recognised by his main adversaries of the day, Toni Mang, Carlos Lavado and Martin Wimmer. He would brake deeper into the corners, and accelerate much earlier, courtesy of his dirt track scholarship. The bikes were the same, and Sepp Schlögl was as good a mechanic as Erv Kanemoto! Period.

#22 Bob Riebe

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 19:46

Freddy was riding during the years I followed bike racing very closely; I cannot say for sure but I am quite sure that more than one writer, said the head games one had to deal with whilst riding for Honda, also helped in his demise.

He was also the only one ever to win a race with the oval piston Honda, when he won, one of two heat at Laguna Seca with it.
Bob

#23 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 20:29

I had the pleasure of meeting Freddie at dinner at Goodwood Revival in 2002. I found him to be quite approachable, very modest and a delightful dinner partner. I think he hasn't been back since then, but I would like to see him out on the circuit again.

Jack

#24 philippe7

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 20:44

Originally posted by fines

I respectfully disagree! His 'technical advantage' was not in the bikes, but in his riding style. This was also recognised by his main adversaries of the day, Toni Mang, Carlos Lavado and Martin Wimmer. He would brake deeper into the corners, and accelerate much earlier, courtesy of his dirt track scholarship. The bikes were the same, and Sepp Schlögl was as good a mechanic as Erv Kanemoto! Period.


Once again, let me first make it clear that I was fortunate enough to see Freddie ride live in a couple of Grand Prix , and that I think he was an exceptionally gifted rider .

However ( :blush: ) , in 1985 he was the only rider to run what you would today call an "A-spec" 250 Honda , Tony Mang thought he had the same bike ( remember, he was Marlboro sponsored that year ) and him and many others , who remembered what a piece of crap the first Honda 250 had been the year before, couldn't believe how Freddie dominated the scene . When Mang and a few others ( Dominique Sarron, Sito Pons, Jean-Francois Baldé...) got the same model he had used , the year after, they understood....

In 500 , Freddie was the only Honda rider entitled to the V4 all year long . Gardner , Mamola or Haslam still had to use the V3 most of the time . Of course , I don't think any of those three was a real match for Freddie , and the V4 was probably often more difficult to ride.....Once again, I'm not meaning to lessen Freddie Spencer's 1985 achievement , but only stating the fact that he also had a technical advantage that year .....recognizing someone's great talent is one thing , blind "idolatry" ( I hope the word exists in english...) is another one .....

#25 subh

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 12:01

There is some more on Freddie Spencer here, including some information I’ve added about his 1990s AMA Superbike career - and a link back to this discussion thread...

#26 picblanc

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 15:30

Originally posted by philippe7


Once again, let me first make it clear that I was fortunate enough to see Freddie ride live in a couple of Grand Prix , and that I think he was an exceptionally gifted rider .

However ( :blush: ) , in 1985 he was the only rider to run what you would today call an "A-spec" 250 Honda , Tony Mang thought he had the same bike ( remember, he was Marlboro sponsored that year ) and him and many others , who remembered what a piece of crap the first Honda 250 had been the year before, couldn't believe how Freddie dominated the scene . When Mang and a few others ( Dominique Sarron, Sito Pons, Jean-Francois Baldé...) got the same model he had used , the year after, they understood....

In 500 , Freddie was the only Honda rider entitled to the V4 all year long . Gardner , Mamola or Haslam still had to use the V3 most of the time . Of course , I don't think any of those three was a real match for Freddie , and the V4 was probably often more difficult to ride.....Once again, I'm not meaning to lessen Freddie Spencer's 1985 achievement , but only stating the fact that he also had a technical advantage that year .....recognizing someone's great talent is one thing , blind "idolatry" ( I hope the word exists in english...) is another one .....


Although sometime a go this thread, I feel its worth saying that I agree with Philippe, with regards to the 250 Honda, have attached pictures of Freddie and Anton Mang for comparison, and a couple more of Freddie as my tribute to one of the greatest riders of modern times.

Freddie and Alan Carter Silverstone 1985.
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Anton Mang Silverstone 1985.
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Silverstone 1983 Honda 3.
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Silverstone 1985 Honda V4.
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Transatlantic Trophy Brands Hatch 1991 Honda RC30.
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All pictures copyright Graham Etheridge, racebikepics.

#27 ex Rhodie racer

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 16:36

I have only just seen this thread and would really like to add my two pence worth.
When looking at, and evaluating, a riders career, so much more than just pure riding talent has to be taken into account. No matter how brilliant a rider might be, without other very essential qualities, success will be limited.
Unfortunately for Spencer, aside from his enormous natural talent, he was, sadly, lacking in the other qualities that make a champion truely remarkable.
I remember his crash at Kayalami when the carbon wheel he was testing for Honda, collapsed. Although not seriously injured he returned to America, and it was quite awhile before he got back on the bike. His commitment was always questionable as far as I was concerned, and unless everything was running just right, he would lose interest. Just compare Doohan´s guts and commitment with Spencer´s. Mick almost lost his leg and had to have his rear brake mounted on his handle bar in order to race again, but he bounced back before he could even walk properly and showed what a truely great champion he was.
I would also like to say that, IMO, he was nowhere near as good on a 250 as he was on the 500. Mario Radamayer was little more than a good national campaigner, but on a 2 year old production racing TZ Yamaha he gave Freddie a very hard race in the 85`250 SA GP. It might have been his home GP, but Spencer was on the works Honda, which Phillipe quite rightly pointed out, was head and shoulders above anything else at the time. On equal machinery I believe Mang would have beaten him in the 85 championship.
While Freddie was undoutably a worthy champion, I would never go as far as to rate him as one of the greats. He had far too many failings as a racer to claim that accolade.

#28 philippe7

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 17:09

I felt bit uneasy when this thread came back to the front because in its days, I had the feeling that some of the comments I had made about Freddie Spencer had attracted some bittersweet replies from members that I like and respect and I felt sorry that my - maybe not carefully enough phrased - statements had triggered such conflicting opinions.....but maybe it is just that we Motorcycle Nostalgia Forum members are a wise bunch who usually share very similar opinions, and that such disagreements are very rare ;)

Although Picblanc and ex-Rhodie do me the good grace of agreeing with me about the specific point of the "unfair advantage" that Spencer may have had on the 1985 250cc Honda , may I just make it clear again that my point was purely to put Freddie's achievments back in perspective, and to fight again the common myth of "out of the blue for one sensational double title , and then disappeared into the black " ( to paraphrase my favourite rock musician ) . It was never meant as a negation of Freddie's talent , or a lessening of his courage and dedication.... Even more so since, unlike some of you, I never put my bum on a proper racing motorcycle, so who would I be to judge, anyway ?

#29 vivafroilan!

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 19:01

Originally posted by philippe7
Although Picblanc and ex-Rhodie do me the good grace of agreeing with me about the specific point of the "unfair advantage" that Spencer may have had on the 1985 250cc Honda , may I just make it clear again that my point was purely to put Freddie's achievments back in perspective, and to fight again the common myth of "out of the blue for one sensational double title , and then disappeared into the black " ( to paraphrase my favourite rock musician ) . It was never meant as a negation of Freddie's talent , or a lessening of his courage and dedication.... Even more so since, unlike some of you, I never put my bum on a proper racing motorcycle, so who would I be to judge, anyway ? [/B]


philippe7,
Though I certainly remember Spencer I wasn't following it closely enough then to add much here, but I did want to say that I most heartily agree with your choice of favorite rock musician!

#30 philippe7

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 19:21

Originally posted by vivafroilan!


philippe7,
Though I certainly remember Spencer I wasn't following it closely enough then to add much here, but I did want to say that I most heartily agree with your choice of favorite rock musician!



Hey Hey, My My ! :up:

#31 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 07:20

:wave: To me Freddie was one of the greats , and his rather luckless achievements after the double etc. should not not spoil the overall picture. Many others faded slowly out of competition and as to his machinery advantage , his talents clearly showed being able to make the maximum of it. Not really wanting to mix others here , but what about the all time winner allways named Ago ? He was often alone and on the very best and did win a lot of rather hollow championships !
If you go back and look at the results , how interesting would the WCs not have been without the Ago MVs !
As to Freddie I seem to remember he had a lot of trouble with nerves in his arm(s) and shoulder, wich took a long time to find and treat ! In fact years . After the double he did not fade but was very unlucky with other small injuries . He was also a very analytic driver ! Problem seems to be his very top years where too short to be considered to be great , but to me he was!

#32 picblanc

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 07:35

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
:wave: To me Freddie was one of the greats , and his rather luckless achievements after the double etc. should not not spoil the overall picture. Many others faded slowly out of competition and as to his machinery advantage , his talents clearly showed being able to make the maximum of it. Not really wanting to mix others here , but what about the all time winner allways named Ago ? He was often alone and on the very best and did win a lot of rather hollow championships !
If you go back and look at the results , how interesting would the WCs not have been without the Ago MVs !
As to Freddie I seem to remember he had a lot of trouble with nerves in his arm(s) and shoulder, wich took a long time to find and treat ! In fact years . After the double he did not fade but was very unlucky with other small injuries . He was also a very analytic driver ! Problem seems to be his very top years where too short to be considered to be great , but to me he was!


:up: :up: yep spot on Bjorn.;)

#33 neni

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 05:07

I found this thread only a couple of days ago. Shame on me. Although not exactly a fan os Fast Freddie, I admired him a lot, and I'd like to give one more opinion about the Spencer deal.
Maybe Freddie Spencer didn't have the resilience showed by other greats (Lawson, Rainey, Doohan, to start with just a few world champions). Also, he had the help from very fast works Hondas, the RS250W and the NSR500, which no other Honda riders had (as for his '83 NS500, Marco Lucchinelli, riding another factory NS500, was pissed off mid-season with being effortlessly overtaken by Freddie on a straight). For sure it tends to lessen the briliance of his achievements, but it can't overcome the fact that he was extremely gifted, a true natural talent. Maybe all this talent made things a bit easier for him, and an easy path doesn't help to build a strong character.
Another interesting Spencer trait: he wasn't very good at setting up or developing a bike (Katayama and Lucchinelli would do that anyway), but he had the ability to ride almost anything extremely fast. Kanemoto was said to work out how much Freddie's bike needed setup improvements by the amount of sweat the rider had built and not by the lap times, which didn't seem to suffer very much from bad setup.
One fact hasn't been mentioned so far in thes thread: in the end of the 92 season he tested a Erv Kanemoto-tuned NSR500 at Kyalami, and his fastest time would have left him with the second position on the grid. But lack of funding and other circumstances prevented Freddie and Erv to be paired again. In my opinion, it's one of the biggest "what if" in motorcycle Grandprix.
Here's the link with some details of the story:
http://www.superbike...May/050510b.htm

Cheers, lads.

#34 fines

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 12:23

My best memory of Fast Freddie is him on the NR500 at Silverstone in 1981: here's a bike that world champions like Takazumi Katayama or Mick Grant couldn't even qualify (often they weren't even fast enough to crack the 350 line-up...!), and this teenager from Shreveport, LA is challenging for the lead in a full world championship Grand Prix, against Sheene, Roberts, Ballington et al. Need we say more?

#35 picblanc

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 13:06

Originally posted by fines
My best memory of Fast Freddie is him on the NR500 at Silverstone in 1981: here's a bike that world champions like Takazumi Katayama or Mick Grant couldn't even qualify (often they weren't even fast enough to crack the 350 line-up...!), and this teenager from Shreveport, LA is challenging for the lead in a full world championship Grand Prix, against Sheene, Roberts, Ballington et al. Need we say more?

Freddie on the NR(not ready)500 Honda
Posted Image
Photo copyright Graham Etheridge, racebikepics.
Fred at silverstone 1981 had the bike up to 5th place before it broke! great race that one, last win from a real privateer "Jumping" Jack Middleburgh, Sheene had long gone after overbraking and going down when Crosby lost the front at Stowe in front of him, Marco Luchinelli also went down but got going again, on lap 3? if I remember correctly! :
Graham

#36 ghinzani

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 20:35

Originally posted by picblanc

Freddie on the NR(not ready)500 Honda


Photo copyright Graham Etheridge, racebikepics.
Fred at silverstone 1981 had the bike up to 5th place before it broke! great race that one, last win from a real privateer "Jumping" Jack Middleburgh, Sheene had long gone after overbraking and going down when Crosby lost the front at Stowe in front of him, Marco Luchinelli also went down but got going again, on lap 3? if I remember correctly! :
Graham


Its been on ESPN here a few times recently and each time I have missed it on Sky plus - 82 GP tonight I think

#37 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 20:46

I see some of your points on Freddie perhaps not being one of the "Greats" but still dont agree ! I believe we can agree or dis- the same as much as we like , what makes a "talk" like this so splendid is that it is kept so decent ! And to me , it is in the end impossible to compare 100 % directly rider/driver or machines/team ,
besause there will always be differences.......but interesting ,even fun !

#38 AS110

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:17

This is where Freddie Spencer learned his throttle control.The NS750 Honda flattracker.A CX turned sideways.This bike wears the no19 plate,so I presume it's one he rode.


Posted Image