"Feet up, beers within arm's reach...Friday night sorted" Motorcycle News
The late 1970s was a classic era of motorcycle Grand Prix racing. Now, two films from the BP archive put us in the heart of the drama as stars including Barry Sheene, Phil Read, Giacomo Agostini, Johnny Cecotto, Tom Herron and Mick Grant put their full focus into exhilarating GP action.
In 1976 Barry Sheene claimed his first 500cc World Championship and cemented a legend which endures today. The award-winning film Focus 500 charts three Grand Prix from that season showing the different sides of Sheene – the dominant rider, the elbow-to-elbow racer and the outspoken critic of authority.
Focus 500 is an important film. You may have seen sequences featured in authoritative profiles of its stars, but it has never been available on DVD complete and as respected director David Wood intended – until now.
The adventure begins with the first GP ever held at Mugello, the third round of the 1976 season, and an almighty battle between some of the greatest names in motorcycle racing. Suzuki-mounted Sheene battles first with Giacomo Agostini, who has traded in his MV Agusta for a Suzuki and then with multiple World Champion Phil Read, now running as a privateer. It is an amazing race, showing Sheene at his determined best as he secures victory by just 1/10th of a second. Next is Assen for the Dutch TT, where Sheene hunts down local favourite Wil Hartog in a clinical and determined performance where his nearest rival, Ago, suffers yet another mechanical failure. The action then moves to the Nurburgring for the West German GP, the last race of the year. With the title secured, Sheene refuses to ride and we join the new World Champion at his home as he explains exactly why he didn’t turn up. Back on track, Agostini had swapped back to his MV and, despite the rain coming down, takes a remarkable victory, his only win of the season.
We move forward a year for Assen, the story of the 1977 Dutch TT. This is more than just a race review, director David Wood created a fascinating documentary displaying the unique on and off-track atmosphere of the legendary Assen circuit. We hear from the fans, watch practice in the rain and experience the drama of the 250cc, 350cc and 500cc GPs. All the stars, including Sheene, Grant and Agostini, are here, but the story focuses on privateers Tom Herron and Kork Ballington as they take on the factory-backed racers. The action culminates in the historic 500cc win for Hartog, but the chance to see Grand Prix racing from the privateers’ side, and hear Herron’s views on race safety, make this absorbing viewing.
(Assen previously featured in the VHS Race to the Top.)
"Focus 500 charts the career of Barry Sheene during his debut 500GP world title-winning season. 1976 saw Sheene battle with greats like Read, Agostini, Cecotto, Herron and Grant to pull off the title victory - with a GP to spare....which he refused to race at! Feet up, beers within arm's reach...Friday night sorted" Motorcycle News