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Pat Hennen RIP


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#1 Macca

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Posted 07 April 2024 - 16:44

Sad news coming out on social media. Brilliant rider who might have been 500cc WC in 1978 but for his career-ending crash in the TT.

Paul M

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#2 LittleChris

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Posted 07 April 2024 - 19:43

Sad news. Someone who I feel would've won a championship if not for his accident at the Island in 78



#3 10kDA

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Posted 07 April 2024 - 23:03

Sorry to hear this. He was on his way to greatness. RIP Pat Hennen.



#4 brands77

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 07:22

Very sad to hear this. Another one of my childhood heroes gone. Godspeed Pat Hennen.

 

Here is an appreciation https://superbikepla...d-prix-has-died - as ever from superbikeplanet, the opinions are very forthright.


Edited by brands77, 08 April 2024 - 07:23.


#5 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 07:25

A career tragically cut short, and a big talent lost to the sport. Was he better than Kenny Roberts? Probably not, but he had a good run going in '78, and was in a better position than Barry Sheene to profit from Kenny's problems later that year. In many ways, he was the real trail blazer for the US in International Road Racing, not only because of his seminal win at Imatra. The change was already in the air, from the late sixties onwards at the very least, but it took the actions of individuals to make it happen, and Hennen was at the forefront with his regular visits to Australia and New Zealand, and then to Europe for the first proper try by an American in a frontrunning World Championship factory team.

 

 

Whatever happened to Pat Hennen? (motorcyclenews.com)



#6 brands77

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 07:54

Yes, many people forget he was the first American to win a 500cc GP (B Parriott was the first to podium in the 500cc at Daytona in 65 and Ron Grant in 64 in the 250cc class).

Hennen was, I think, the first top class American to come over to Europe to try a full season in the GPs. I think he showed the others it could be done and after him came Baker, Roberts and the rest in the 80s. He seemed to be happy to race all over the world and Rod Coleman from NZ was his first main sponsor when he came over for the GPs. He won his first GP as a privateer sponsored by Coleman.



#7 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 08:00

Ron Grant was British, anyway, and Parriott was hardly trying to go for the World Championship. In fact, I think he didn't beat a single European that day.


Edited by Michael Ferner, 08 April 2024 - 08:03.


#8 brands77

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 09:41

I didn't know Ron Grant was British, both Bula and Haeflinger have him down as USA for that result. He finished a lap down on Alan Shepherd and the third place finisher was 2 laps down. Bula has D Brown in 5th place, Haeflinger has J Dunphy in 5th place (which I am assuming is Joe Dunphy) and F Brown in 6th place. Dunphy is listed British riding a Greeves. Not wanting to sidetrack this thread from Pat Hennen, but do you have a definitive result?


Edited by brands77, 08 April 2024 - 09:47.


#9 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 11:43

Ron Grant was a British expatriate, living in the US at the time (and, presumably, racing with a US licence). He did also race for the US at the Transatlantic Match Races, which generated some debate if I recall correctly. Dunphy was initially classified outside of a points finishing position, but protested the lap count and was given fifth after a review of the official results.

 

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was not to sidetrack from Hennen, but to lend perspective. Those sixties US GPs were 'strange' events, in that they were hardly representative of the US as a motorcycle nation. The reason behind that was that the leading US club, the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) was at the time not interested in representing the US at the FIM, the sanctioning club of the world championships, so that the initiative for those GPs came from the American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM), which still exists today, billing itself "the oldest amateur road racing club in the US". Back in the sixties, the AFM was perhaps best described as a semi-professional (at best) West Coast club with ambitions, and so it came that those Grands Prix were actually more of glorified club meetings with a bunch of Californian amateurs taking on a few Florida locals, and a sprinkling of works riders from Europe and Japan. Parriott, for example, was pretty well known in AFM circles, but not at all outside of California. And even in the Sunshine State, Parriott was not really a star, as the AFM was conducting its racing mostly during during lunch breaks of amateur sports car events!

 

The story of the 1960s US GPs is a bit more convoluted and pretty fascinating (for example, the US member at the FIM was actually the United States Motorcycle Club, which was basically the former Florida Chapter of the AFM, with additional support from NASCAR!), and eventually spawned a new policy by the AMA which finally joined the FIM later in the decade, leading to wholesale reforms both in the US and the rest of the world, and the introduction of Formula 750 racing which provided a transatlantic 'bridge' to enable drivers from both sides of the pond to race each other on equal terms (which had not been possible before, due to various reasons). That was the foundation for Roberts, Hennen and Baker to even only think about going to Europe, and race for the World Championships!


Edited by Michael Ferner, 08 April 2024 - 11:58.


#10 brands77

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Posted 08 April 2024 - 13:18

Hi Michael, Thank you. I didn't know anything about the AFM organisation and it makes sense now why we didn't see the likes of Dick Mann, Gary Nixon and Roger Reimann against the GP stars at those US GPs in 64/65. I know the Harley's at that time were 750s, but the BSAs, Triumphs and Matchlesses being ridden in the AMA championship would have been 500s and therefore I suppose eligible to race in the 500 class.

I think this also puts into perspective Pat Hennen's achievements as a pioneer of US racing. No-one else had really had a go at GPs before him. He came along with his brother and a van, no knowledge of the circuits and finished third overall in his first try with only the factory Suzuki's ahead of him. I would guess his RG was  pretty standard spec and he still won a GP. Aside from Tom Herron at the TT all the other GP winners in 76 were works riders (although how trick John Williams' and John Newbold's bikes were I don't know), so Hennen's achievements were really very impressive.


Edited by brands77, 08 April 2024 - 13:24.


#11 Michael Ferner

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Posted 22 April 2024 - 11:45

For those who can read French (I don't, but my computer can! :)), our friend Philippe de Lespinay some time ago started an interesting Pat Hennen thread on the French pit-lane forum. Maybe a bit cumbersome to read using online translation, but definitely worth it!
 
http://www.pit-lane....dies-pat-hennen

 

Good forum, too. Wish it was in English! :(



#12 philippe7

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Posted 23 April 2024 - 13:17

Thank you for the kind comments Michael. However it's me (Philippe Roche, aka Philippe 7) and not our mutual friend Philippe de Lespinay (aka T54) who started this thread. Thanks for the link to the pit-lane forum, but I think one needs to register to be able to see the photos and press clippings, which are a definite bonus to the text. But registration is a very easy process.



#13 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 April 2024 - 14:22

Ah, mrd  :mad: Je suis desolĂ©:blush:  :blush:  :blush: Of course, it was you - I got confused by the common first name, and the fact that both of you seem to have more or less disappeared from this forum. Thanks for checking in and correcting me, and many, many thanks for the thread 'over there'  :up: It's been a real pleasure to read, and I'm laboriously fighting my way through the Degner/Kaaden thread at the moment. It's tough going, and I wish I'd paid more attention to my French lessons back at school!  :|

 

Yes, you need to register to get the full monty, but do it! It's easy even for us who don't speak French, and worth every bit of effort!! As a bonus, many of the clippings are in English, too!  :up:



#14 philippe7

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Posted 23 April 2024 - 15:50

I am not sure how acceptable it is to "advertise" for another forum on here, but I'll take the risk to point you to a few other threads that may be of interest since they veer away from the usual "euro-centered" ( or sometimes US - centered) topics : 

 

Story of the life of Pat Evans (similar to the Pat Hennen thread) : http://www.pit-lane....ldies-pat-evans

 

A (roughly) chronological history of international racing in south-east asia ( Singapore, Maysia, Indonesia, Macao ) http://www.pit-lane....iques-des-60-70

 

Various stories of Australian and New-Zealand racing  http://www.pit-lane....ns-bien-trempes

 

For the latter I have to be grateful to the Motorcycle Nostalgia Forum of the old days where I first virtually "met" antipodean luminaries like Stu Avant, Mike Sinclair, John Boote, the Sayle brothers, and many more .....that I was for most of them able to meet for real when I was living in the south pacific ......

 

Apologies for "blowing my own trumpet" ( or whatever one says in english ) :smoking:



#15 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 April 2024 - 19:50

I am sure nobody will even notice the ads, since this part of the forum is mostly cobwebs and tumbleweeds   ;)  :rolleyes:

 

Many thanks for the links, although to be perfectly honest, at the moment I'm overwhelmed by the forum, and since reading the stuff is rather slow going (machine translation is FAR from perfect!  :rolleyes:) I'm piling up a backlog of reading for months already!!

 

I'll make sure to read those threads, though, because those "backwaters" are of particular interest to me, too!  :up:  You don't, per chance, have a thread about South American racing, over there? For me, that's the hardest nut to crack so far!  :(



#16 nexfast

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Posted 24 April 2024 - 06:51

 

 

I'll make sure to read those threads, though, because those "backwaters" are of particular interest to me, too!  :up:  You don't, per chance, have a thread about South American racing, over there? For me, that's the hardest nut to crack so far!  :(

 

There is a guy called Bruno Andrenacci who has an active Facebook page on the Zanella bikes (Zanellas eran las de Antes | Facebook) who also publishes on YouTube that seems to have a lot of information, in particular access to documents about Argentinian races, both circuit and open roads, from 60's and 70's. Might be worthwhile to explore this track. His mail is in the Facebook page but no idea whether the gentleman speaks English or not.