Rambling on about my old Suzuki GT250 a while back, I remembered a time when British Police Officers might ask speeding motorcyclists if they thought they were Barry Sheene, so popular was he in the media at the time. Always a hero of mine, I had the pleasure of meeting Barry a couple of times as a youngster. On both occasions he was very approachable, disarmingly friendly and had plenty of time for his many fans (I still have my 1979 Transatlantic Trophy race programme from Oulton Park that he happily signed whilst answering loads of questions from other similarly bike mad teenagers). As well as his undeniable talents on two wheels, Barry was also a master when it came to publicity and promotion (probably the first motorcycle racer to be truly ‘media savvy’) and as he was never shy of the cameras, you could almost guarantee that in any 1970’s British motorcycle magazine there would be at least one ad featuring Bazzer in there somewhere, usually promoting one of the then current Suzuki range, or occasionally a bottle of Brut 33 aftershave!
This Yamaha LC250 ad however is one of my favourites and comes from 1980 by which time Barry was racing a Yamaha YZR500. Fully appreciative of his popularity with their target market for the 250LC (you could ride a 250 on ‘L’ plates at 17 back then, so many UK teenagers aspired to owning one) concessionaires Mitsui were quick to make sure that Barry was involved in the launch of the new LC. This early ad features the RD250LC (a UK market 4LO model) and makes much of the the ‘race developed’ heritage that was common to all Yamaha road going 2-strokes. As the ad says: “The predictable handling, precise steering and superb braking expected of a racing machine make their road bikes that much safer for you.” All true, but the fact remains that most of us wanted an Elsie because it looked fantastic, went like the clappers and was the best wheelie machine on the planet!