— Insight —
Sheene proved a natural fit for Australian TV
A man like Barry Sheene was never going to disappear into obscurity after hanging up his leathers. Not surprisingly, his first thought was to try his hand at other forms of motor sport. Already during his bike racing heyday he had shown interest in an eventual move to cars, undertaking a test in a Team Surtees Formula 1 car, but a season driving a Toyota Supra in the British Saloon Car Championship failed to ignite a spark. Neither did a number of truck race outings.
Not to worry, Sheene was much in demand off the racetrack. He was already hosting television programmes for ITV when he decided to move his family he had recently become a father to Australia, where the drier, warmer weather would be kinder to his aching limbs. In fact there was another reason for the escape: over the years Sheene had been somewhat economical with the truth when dealing with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
It did not take very long before he was back in the centre of things Down Under, joining Channel Nine’s Formula 1 commentary team alongside Alan Jones. Sheene’s willingness to deploy colourful language at which even local commentators baulked ensured that the Aussies loved him as much as or maybe even more than the British back at home.
In 1998 Sheene was back racing bikes again. He rode a Manx Norton at the Goodwood Revival and that did ignite a spark. He became a regular winner at classic events in Britain and Australia. By the time of his final win at the 2002 Goodwood Revival he had already been diagnosed with the illness that would take him at the age of 53.