Ask some of the veterans of the MotoGP paddock who the greatest racer of all time was, and you'll get a fairly short list of names, usually including Valentino Rossi, Giacomo Agostini, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz. But the answer to that question is almost always followed up by the words "And then there's Freddie Spencer, of course..." Spencer's career was cut short by a wrist injury, but before he was forced to retire, the young American shocked the world by being the only man to win both the 500cc and 250cc World Championships in the same year. Fast Freddie was precocious, sensitive and blindingly, mind-bogglingly fast.
Since retiring from racing, Spencer's fortunes have been very mixed. The Louisiana native ran a successful riding school and was the motorcycle racing commentator for the US SpeedTV channel, but both of those ventures have gone sour. Spencer's riding school was forced to shut down at the end of 2008, after financial problems saw the instructors go unpaid and the bikes repossessed. Spencer's commentary work also dried up, with Daytona legend Scott Russell taking his place in the commentary booth.
There are signs that things are getting even worse for Spencer. The American has been forced to put two of his championship-winning race bikes up for sale. Specialist dealers RMD Motors have up for sale Spencer's 1983 championship-winning Honda NS500 triple and his NSR250 twin, one of the bikes he won that legendary double title on in 1985. The bikes are to be sold as a pair, and are likely to fetch a handsome sum, due to both their rarity and their historical importance.
Potential purchasers should head on over to RMD Motors' website for more details, including who to contact to arrange a viewing. Interested parties with lottery tickets and hope in their heart should head on over to the website anyway, and take a look at some of the other bikes the company has on offer, including a 1950s NSU 250 racer, a 1988 Schwantz Pepsi replica Suzuki RGV250, and my own personal favorite, a 1976 Yamaha TZ750.