Freddie Spencer

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Freddie Spencer
Freddie Spencer 1989 Japanese GP.jpg
Spencer at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.
Nationality United States
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 1980 - 1993
First race 1980 500cc Belgian Grand Prix
Last race 1993 500cc Italian Grand Prix
First win 1982 500cc Belgian Grand Prix
Last win 1985 500cc Swedish Grand Prix
Team(s) Honda, Yamaha
Championships 500cc - 1983, 1985
250cc - 1985
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
72 27 39 33 24 610.5

Frederick "Freddie" Burdette Spencer (born December 20, 1961), known by the nickname Fast Freddie, is an American former World Champion motorcycle racer.[1] Spencer is regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of the early 1980s.[2]

Biography[edit]

Spencer was born in Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana. He was a racing prodigy who began racing at the age of four, competing in dirt track events near his hometown of Shreveport.[1]

Racing history[edit]

After winning the 1978 250cc U.S. National Road Racing Championship, American Honda signed Spencer to ride for their Superbike team. He gained international prominence at the 1980 U.S. versus Britain Transatlantic Trophy match races when he won two legs at Brands Hatch, defeating World Champions Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene in the process.[1] In 1981, he split his time between the AMA Superbike series, and the European Grand Prix circuit, helping Honda develop the exotic, oval-cylindered NR500 four-stroke Grand Prix bike.

By 1982, he had been promoted full-time to Honda's Grand Prix team, who by then had given up on the NR500 and developed the NS500 three cylinder, two-stroke. In 1983, Spencer won his first 500cc World Championship at the age of 21, becoming the youngest person to win the title, a distinction previously held by Mike Hailwood.[1][2] The 1983 season would be remembered as one of the most dramatic title chases in the history of Grand Prix racing; Honda's Spencer and Yamaha's Kenny Roberts fought back and forth for the points lead with each of them earning six victories.[3] The season culminated at the penultimate round in Sweden when the two riders collided on the last lap.[4] Roberts ran off the track leaving Spencer to sprint to the finish line and victory. Roberts won the last race but Spencer finished second, securing his first world title by two points.[2]

In 1984, Honda developed a radically new V4 NSR500 that featured the fuel tank under the engine and the expansion chambers under a false tank above the engine. Teething problems and injuries from crashes hindered Spencer's defense of his crown and he was relegated to fourth place in the championship.[5] In spite of this, he still managed to win three times with the NSR500, and twice more on the NS500 three cylinder machine.

1985 proved to be an historic year for Spencer. He began the season by winning the prestigious season opening Daytona 200, including the 250cc and Superbike classes, making him the only rider to win all three divisions in a single year.[1][6] Spencer also competed in both the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix World Championships, winning both titles in the same year. That made him the fifth (& last) rider ever to win in the 500cc & the next class down and, due to class changes, the only rider to win in both 500cc & 250cc in one year. His career was cut short by wrist injuries that some believe were caused by the physical strain of competing in two championships during a single season

After his historic 1985 season, Spencer never won another Grand Prix race. He retired from Grand Prix racing at the beginning of 1988, although there were a couple of abortive GP comeback attempts, in 1989 and 1993.[1]

He returned to race in the AMA Superbike Championship in the 1990s, winning three races. He was eighth in 1991, riding a Honda for Two Brothers Racing, and went one better in 1992. In 1995 he raced a Fast By Ferracci Ducati to ninth, and at the end of the year took over the works Ducati from Mauro Lucchiari in Superbike World Championship.

Spencer raced under several different marques during his racing career, winning his first Superbike National Championship race aboard a Kawasaki, but he is most closely associated with Honda and his partnership with Grand Prix tuner, Erv Kanemoto. He won all three of his world titles on Hondas with Kanemoto as head mechanic. Spencer had a short stint with the Agostini Yamaha team and ended his career on a Ducati in the U.S. National Championship.

Spencer now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he operated a motorcycle riding school at least until October 2008, when financial difficulties led to the school ceasing operations.[7]

Honors[edit]

Grand Prix career statistics [12][edit]

Points system from 1968 to 1987.

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1

Points system from 1988 to 1992.

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Points 20 17 15 13 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team Machine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points Rank Wins
1980 500cc Spencer Yamaha YZR500 NAT
-
ESP
-
FRA
-
NED
-
BEL
NC
FIN
-
GBR
-
GER
-
0 - 0
1981 500cc Honda-HRC NR500 AUT
-
GER
-
NAT
-
FRA
-
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
RSM
-
GBR
DNF
FIN
-
SWE
-
0 - 0
1982 500cc Honda-HRC NS500 ARG
3
AUT
NC
FRA
-
ESP
NC
NAT
2
NED
DNF
BEL
1
YUG
4
GBR
2
SWE
NC
RSM
1
GER
DNF
73 3rd 2
1983 500cc Honda-HRC NS500 RSA
1
FRA
1
NAT
1
GER
4
ESP
1
AUT
NC
YUG
1
NED
3
BEL
2
GBR
2
SWE
1
RSM
2
144 1st 6
1984 500cc Honda-HRC NSR500 RSA
DNS
NAT
1
ESP
-
AUT
2
FRA
1
YUG
1
NED
NC
87 4th 5
NS500 GER
1
BEL
1
GBR
-
SWE
-
RSM
-
1985 250cc Rothmans Honda-HRC NSR250 RSA
1
ESP
9
GER
2
NAT
1
AUT
1
YUG
1
NED
1
BEL
1
FRA
1
GBR
4
SWE
-
RSM
-
127 1st 7
500cc Rothmans Honda-HRC NSR500 RSA
2
ESP
1
GER
2
NAT
1
AUT
1
YUG
2
NED
NC
BEL
1
FRA
1
GBR
1
SWE
1
RSM
-
141 1st 7
1986 500cc Rothmans Honda-HRC NSR500 ESP
NC
NAT
-
GER
-
AUT
NC
YUG
-
NED
-
BEL
-
FRA
-
GBR
-
SWE
-
RSM
-
0 - 0
1987 500cc Rothmans Honda-HRC NSR500 JPN
-
ESP
-
GER
-
NAT
-
AUT
-
YUG
-
NED
-
FRA
-
GBR
NC
SWE
7
CZE
11
RSM
NC
POR
-
BRA
-
ARG
-
4 20th 0
1989 500cc Marlboro Agostini Yamaha YZR500 JPN
14
AUS
NC
USA
DNF
ESP
5
NAT
DNS
GER
9
AUT
9
YUG
27
NED
13
BEL
9
FRA
DNF
GBR
-
SWE
-
CZE
-
BRA
-
33.5 16th 0
1993 500cc Yamaha of France YZR500 AUS
DNF
MAL
-
JPN
-
ESP
-
AUT
-
GER
-
NED
-
EUR
-
RSM
-
GBR
-
CZE
DNF
ITA
14
USA
-
FIM
-
2 37th 0

Books[edit]

  • Harris, Nick; Clifford, Peter (1986). Fast Freddie: Double World Champion Freddie Spencer, The Man and his Machines. UK: Motor Racing Publications Ltd. p. 143. ISBN 0-947981-08-X. 
  • Scott, Michael (1987). The Champions: Freddie Spencer. UK: William Kimberley Limited. p. 64. ISBN 0-946132-31-3. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Franco Uncini
500cc Motorcycle World Champion
1983
Succeeded by
Eddie Lawson
Preceded by
Eddie Lawson
500cc Motorcycle World Champion
1985
Succeeded by
Eddie Lawson
Preceded by
Christian Sarron
250cc Motorcycle World Champion
1985
Succeeded by
Carlos Lavado