Phil Read

Do you want to post a tribute about your favourite retired drivers, perhaps you want to discuss the rantings of the MIT (men in tweed). They thought they were safer when they retired, perhaps not mumblers!! How about a tribute to those that are not drivers but still in the game?

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Phil Read

Postby Petra L'ead » Sat 27 Jan, 2007 6:43 pm

Wikipedia has this to say

Phillip William (Phil) Read (born January 1, 1939 in Luton, England) is an English former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer nicknamed "the Prince of Speed." Although he would often be overshadowed by his contemporary, Mike Hailwood, he would become the first man to win world championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc classes.


In 1964, he gave Yamaha their first world title when he won the 250cc class. He would repeat as champion the following year. For 1966, Yamaha would introduce a new, four cylinder 250cc bike. Teething problems with the new engine meant he would lose the crown to Hailwood. In 1967 he would battle Hailwood on his six-cylinder Honda all the way to the final round. They would end up tied but, Hailwood took the crown due to having five wins to Read's four.

The 1968 season proved to be controversial for Read. The Yamaha factory had wanted Read to concentrate on winning the 125cc title and team-mate Bill Ivy to take the 250cc crown. After winning the 125cc championship, Read decided to disobey team orders and fight Ivy for the 250cc title. They finished the season tied in the points and Read was awarded the championship based on elapsed times. It was a costly decision as Yamaha would never offer him another ride.

After sitting out most of the 1969 and 1970 seasons, he returned to Grand Prix racing in 1971 but, this time on a privateer Yamaha after his falling out with the factory. In spite of not having factory support, he was still able to claim his fifth world championship.

In 1972 he was given a ride with the MV Agusta team and in 1973, he took the 500cc world championship. He successfully defended his crown in 1974 in what would be the last world championship for the legendary Italian marque. It would also be the last time a four-stroke machine would win a title until the advent of the MotoGP class in 2002.

He would give Agostini's Yamaha a strong fight for the 1975 500cc championship but finished in second place. Realizing the writing was on the wall for four-stroke machinery, he left the Italian company to campaign a privateer Suzuki in the 1976 season after which, he retired from Grand Prix racing. His last race was at the Isle of Man TT in 1982 at the age of 43. The FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend" in 2002.

Motorcycle Grand Prix Career
    Nationality United Kingdom British
    Active years 1961 - 1976
    Team(s) Yamaha, MV Agusta
    Grands Prix 113
    Championships 125cc - 1968
    250cc - 1964, 1965, 1968, 1971
    500cc- 1973, 1974
    Wins 52
    Podium finishes 121
    Pole positions 5
    Fastest laps 1
    First Grand Prix 1961 350cc Isle of Man TT
    First win 1961 350cc Isle of Man TT
    Last win 1975 500cc Czechoslovakian Grand Prix
    Last Grand Prix 1976 500cc Nations Grand Prix

Now, most of us are too young to remember Phil Read.

But I tell you all this so I can tell you that, in addition to winning 8 world titles in three different classes, he is a also an old git.

Several years before Phil Read was named as a Grand Prix "Legend" a friend and I took our bikes to the Isle of Man so that we could enjoy a week or so screaming around on the Island's unrestricted roads which make up the famous TT circuit.

It is glorious and if you have never been you really should go. It is a motorcycling Mecca and one of the finest places to ride a motorcycle anywhere in the known universe.

Anyway, one afternoon as my friend and I were charging around the "circuit" it began to rain. The Island is no place to crash a motorcycle so we decided to shelter in the nearest pub.

As we pulled up in the car park this old boy wanders over to us .....

"Nice bikes" he said.
"Thanks" we replied.
"Coming in from the rain?" he asked
"Yeah, it gets a bit slippery out there when it's raining."
"Gets slippery does it?"
"Yeah, especially the white lines, they're really slippery"
"Oh" he said, "Are they bad?"

The conversation went on like this for a little while and then we went into the pub. Later, I spotted the same old guy walking directly towards me with a pen in his hand ....... hurriedly looking around I figured out he was walking towards the framed photo of a 60's motorcycle racer on the wall above my head ..... and .... he was clearly going to sign it ......

"'Scuse me"
"Is that you?"
"I'm really sorry .... but I don't recognise you, who are you?"
"Phil Read" he says.
"Doh! ......"

Phil Read.

Phil Read 8 times world motorcycling champion.

We had just spent 10 minutes explaining to an 8 times world champion just how slippery the white lines get when it rains........

He is a git!

Nonetheless he was very pleased that we knew his name and his reputation even if we didn't know his face. He spent a bit of time chatting with us and before he left I asked him to sign a Manx pound note.

My friend who had been even more earnest than I had when it came to expressing just how slippery white lines can be showed contrition by asking Phil to sign a Manx fiver.

He wrote on it ......

To Charlie, who taught me all I know......

I told you he was an old git!
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Petra L'ead
World Champion
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