FAST FREDDIE SPENCER AND PHIL READ TO PAINT THE 2018 MOTORLEGEND FESTIVAL IN WORLD TITLE COLOURS
16 March 2018.
The 2018 MotorLegend Festival will bathe in the world title colours of great riders: first Giacomo Agostini, and now Freddie Spencer and Phil Read have confirmed their participation in the first edition of the event, taking place at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari track in Imola from 20 to 22 April.
For Freddie Spencer, this will mean a return to Imola exactly 35 years after he won his first world title. It was at Imola, in 1983, that Fast Freddie took on his more experienced rival Kenny Roberts, finishing second and triumphing in the championship, a feat that represented the beginning of a new era, also in terms of riding style and race approach. He will ride the 500cc Honda RS during the show.
Phil Read will have the opportunity to meet up with his long-time rival Giacomo Agostini, with whom he shared some unforgettable duels, as well as the common experience of riding for MV Agusta.
The presence of two true motorcycle legends, from two different eras, in addition to many four-wheeled champions, confirms the international interest being shown in the Italian event.
Following on from the Agostini/Read era, and prior to that of Valentino Rossi, Freddie Spencer marked another age, one which went beyond his victories. Born in Shreveport in Louisiana on 20 December 1961, he began racing at 5 before turning professional at 16. By 20, he was a Honda factory rider. His career was a crescendo of memorable achievements: he won his first world title in the 500cc class at just 21 years of age, in 1983, igniting Imola with a thrilling duel with fellow countryman Kenny Roberts during the final San Marino Grand Prix, a battle that has gone down in the history of motorcycling. He repeated the feat in 1985, winning – and this was a first – both the 250cc and 500cc world championships. Spencer revolutionised the way of riding a bike on track – he was the first to understand the importance of extreme leaning in order to effectively execute the corners and ensure the bike’s maximum acceleration on exit.
Spectacular but always correct, Fast Freddie had a relatively brief international career, as tendinitis was to comprise the seasons that followed the 1985 titles. But his CV remains an important point of reference today: he is the only rider to have achieved the triple during Daytona Bike Week, winning the Superbike race, the F1 class and the Lightweight International in 1985 before also winning (once his world championship career was over) a further three American championships, finishing up with a memorable victory at Laguna Seca in 1995. The holder of various records, he was, until the advent of Marc Marquez, the youngest ever world champion and the youngest rider to win an AMA race in 1979, when he had just turned 17. In terms of his international career, Spencer took part in 72 Grand Prix, achieving 27 wins, 33 pole positions, 610.5 championship points and three world titles. In terms of the ratio between number of races run and victories, he is one of the most successful riders in history.
Nowadays, and having collaborated with TV networks NBC, ESPN and Speed Channel as a GP commentator between 1997 and 2009, Freddie Spencer is a brand, motorsport and event ambassador, a role that involves significant travel across the five continents. He also writes a column for American Cycle World Magazine and Motor Sport Magazine, for which he undertakes the role of MotoGP reporter. He founded the High Performance Riding School in Las Vegas, which he ran from 1997 to 2008. In 2017, he published his autobiography FEEL for Virgin Penguin Random House and is currently busy writing his second book.
PHIL READ MBE
A Member of the British Empire and a rider who has been inducted into motorcycling’s Hall of Fame, Phil Read competed in the world championship for 15 seasons, beating any rival in any class or category hands down. Born on 1 January 1939 in Luton and having grown up with the legend of Geoff Duke, he debuted in Great Britain at just 17 before landing in the world championship five years later, in 1961. His career stats are impressive: 145 Grand Prix races completed, 52 wins, 121 podiums, 7 world titles achieved across 125cc, 250cc and 500cc. To this we add his title in the TTF1 Tourist Trophy class, bringing his total to 8.
He began his international career on the Norton 350 in 1961, a bike with which he won the Tourist Trophy and finished fourth in the world series. The following year, again with his trusty Norton, he came third in the 500cc world championship. 1963 saw him move to Gilera, the manufacturer that had made Geoff Duke a star and with which he scored two podiums and fourth place overall in the 500cc world championship. This was to be his final season without a title: hired by Yamaha, that had him compete as of the Japan GP of 1963, his first world title arrived in 1964. This was an historic result, in that it was the first win in the category for a two-stroke engine and the first win for the Japanese manufacturer. He did it again in 1965. His great rivalry with team-mate Bill Ivy began in 1966. In 1967 he lost the 250 title to Mike Hailwood, despite scoring the same number of points, only to make up for this with interest the following year, when he won both the 125cc and 250cc world titles. Again on a Yamaha, albeit privateer, he won the 250cc world championship in 1971. In 1972 he was unexpectedly hired by MV Agusta, competing for them in the 350cc class, before moving up to 500cc the following year. There was great rivalry between him and Giacomo Agostini, also due to their very different personalities. The concreteness and humility of Agostini versus the multicoloured race interpretation of Read, who would arrive at the circuits in a Rolls Royce wearing furs over his racing suit. The two had some epic battles and Read, against all odds, went on to win a further two world titles, in 1973 and 1974, just missing out on a third in 1975. He continued to compete until 1976, a season in which he took part in just three races with a Suzuki, before 1977 brought success at the Tourist Trophy in the TTF1 category. Read raced against all the greats, from Hailwood to Agostini, from Ivy to Redman, from Pasolini to Saarinen and Bergamonti. A tough but at the same time tactical and intelligent rider when it came to his race approach, Phil Read was one of the first to apply professional rider rules to his career. He is a pillar of motorcycle racing history.
SOCIAL MEDIA & WEBSITE
MotorLegend Festival is a wide-ranging event, with track activities flanked by a whole host of other events and things to see and do in the paddock. To have a clearer picture, the event’s website and very active social channels are a useful reference point, continuously updated.
Guido Schittone – Press office manager
Sandra Strazzari – Press office and accreditations
© For Phil Read’s Photo – Credits: Vincenzo Zaccaria