When we reported the sensational news that Wayne Rainey is heading to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year (2022), to be reunited with his championship winning Yamaha GP bike 29 years after he last rode it, it would appear that Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan and Kenny Roberts all read it. Who knew those boys were 44Teeth fans? Anyway, not only have they quite obviously read what we wrote, they’ve pledged their allegiance to their erstwhile competitor by promising to be by his side, in the Sussex countryside, for the historic occasion.
Anyone who had even the most passing interest in motorcycle racing in the late 80’s and early 90’s would have been acutely aware of the Schwantz vs Rainey rivalry. They might not have been bezzy mates back when they both started their GP careers in 1988, but there’s no denying the fact that they were both a massive part of each other’s careers, and there’s quite clearly a massive amount of mutual respect.
The 1993 World Champ, Kevin Schwantz said
“Riding 500cc Grand Prix bike alongside Wayne Rainey is something that has really underpinned my whole life. To be able to have that experience again – it being so long since Wayne has been on his race bike – for me, is going to be unbelievable.”
Mick Doohan would almost certainly be the next name anyone thought of when discussing Motorcycle Grand Prix championship contenders of the early 90’s. He wasn’t far off winning it in ’91 and 92, and then he went and won five on the bounce from ’94 to ’98.
Mick Doohan said
“It will be a very memorable moment to see Wayne back on two wheels”, said Australian Doohan, whose son now races in FIA Formula 2. “To have raced against him for several years, plus having got close to wrestling a title from him on a couple occasions, in the early 90’s, were very special memories in my career. He and I had a great rivalry, especially ’91 and ’92, unfortunately for me, Wayne came out on top. To be able to ride with him at the Festival of Speed is sensational and it will be a real spectacle to see him back on a bike.”
One of the most pivotal people in Wayne Rainey’s career was another World Champion, but this time not one of Rainey’s on-track contemporaries. Kenny Roberts, who took a hattrick of world titles between 1978 and 1980, became Rainey’s team boss in 1984 on a 250. Later he would ride for the Roberts Yamaha squad in the premier class, the 500cc Grand Prix, from 1988 until the end of his racing career in 1993.
“Having heard that Wayne Rainey will be riding his championship-winning 1992 YZR500 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I just had to be there to witness this amazing occasion alongside Shae and Rex [Wayne’s wife and son].
Wayne’s determination to make this all happen is no surprise. When he has something in his head that he wants to do, it’ll happen and it’s testament to him that two of his greatest rivals, Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan will be present at the festival this year to live this dream with him. I can promise there will not be a dry-eye in the house. It’s gonna be some party.”
Since the crash in 1993 that left him permanently paralysed from the chest down, Wayne Rainey might not have raced a motorcycle himself, but he has been actively involved in bike racing; at the moment he’s one of the blokes in charge of MotoAmerica, the organisation that promotes the AMA Superbike Championship (that’s the American’s version of BSB). Although he’s briefly ridden an adapted road bike over in the states, this will be the first time in 29 years that he’s ridden a GP bike.
When he found out that his old mates were flying across the Atlantic to be with him on his big day, this is what he said
I never thought I’d have a chance to throw a leg over a Grand Prix bike again, and I certainly never thought I’d have an opportunity to share a track with Kenny, Mick and Kevin. This could only happen at the Festival of Speed. Obviously, Kenny played a major role in my racing career and my life so having him with us at Goodwood is going to make an incredible experience even more so.
And many fans know Mick and Kevin were a couple of my greatest rivals during my Grand Prix career, and it means so much to me that they are making the trip to the Festival of Speed for what will be a very special time. We all share so many memories of competition, it will be fun to experience a new sense of camaraderie with them. This will be my first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and I can’t wait for June to get here.
If that’s not a good enough reason to get yourself to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, than I don’t know what is! The FoS will run from the 23rd to the 26th of June, and you can get hold of tickets on the Goodwood website.