The Golden Era
World GP Bike Legends is THE revival of the Golden Era of motorcycle racing. 80s and 90s – the decades that every fan remembers for the brutal bikes, fierce attitudes, parties and seriously cool fun of race weekends…
It’s 1985, half-way through the heyday decade of Grand Prix racing. Hippies have clashed with police at Stonehenge, Live Aid raised £50 million worldwide and the first dot-com has been registered. In bike racing, Grand Prix is seriously, seriously cool. Names like Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene are hugely popular and 1985 was the year Freddie Spencer dominated, winning both the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix World Championships with Rothmans Honda. Adopting the name ‘Fast Freddie’, this historic season cost him dearly through physical strain and wrist injuries – it was his once in a lifetime moment.
The following year saw Wayne Gardner step up to become Rothmans’ lead rider, battling hard with Randy Mamola and Eddie Lawson in separate Yamaha teams. Lawson exuded a ‘don’t mess’ attitude throughout the paddock and fought hard on the Yamaha to win the 500cc World Championship that year. Gardner’s turn was 1987 as he took the incredible Honda NSR500 to victory, earning the nickname ‘The Wollongong Wild One’ for his hard riding attitude in taming the wild Honda machine with ultimate straight line speed. Lawson, however, went on to win a total of four 500cc Championships, his final after signing with Rothmans Honda alongside his arch rival Wayne Gardner for 1989.
The 1980s was the era when the battle between factories for technological dominance got real and dangerous. Bikes were untamed beasts of metal and fuel thrust in to the hands of only the most courageous individuals. Speed was the goal here, sheer speed. The ‘Honda line’ created envy amongst the pack, Yamaha held on tight through the corners and Suzuki sought raw power.
1990 saw the beginning of the Wayne Rainey domination. His three consecutive years of taking the World Championship title through some of the toughest competition were remarkable but sadly brought to a premature end with a crash in Misano 1993. His duels with Kevin Schwantz will remain unforgettable and their rivalry is one of the most memorable in the history of the sport, a bitter clash of adrenalin – hatred unreasoned except for their total desire to beat each other. The legendary Mick Doohan then took five consecutive 500cc World Championship titles during the late 90s with an often comfortable lead in races. These riders along with their beautifully engineered machinery are considered some of the world’s greatest in racing history with now legendary status.