6/26/2003 0 Comments
13. Barry Sheene
"I lost a really good friend," Berger says, looking at the picture of two times 500cc motorcycle champion and Australian TV commentator Barry Sheene, who died earlier this year from cancer.
"We were both really similar in the way of seeing things and treating things and doing things, and his passing away gives me a lot to think about. When he phoned me - I think I was one of the first guys he phoned when he was just coming back from the doctor and found out what he had - when he phoned me and he told me, that was the moment I definitely started to think to stop. He was always the guy who said 'what are you doing, come on - let's enjoy ourselves; what are you doing with all this BMW stuff? You know it's not a question of money; let's have this life, I'll take this helicopter and we'll go for a ride, come with me now'.
"And we enjoyed ourselves so much when we were together, but then I never had much time, and he was much more consistent with contacting me and trying to do something together than I was, because I was so busy. But then when he phoned me I said shit - the guy would come and say 'let's spend the life, let's spend the time, life is too short, let's do it in a good way'. I thought, shit he was 100% right and he would know it; his time's going to be short, and how long is my time, you know?
"I spoke to him and said 'Barry, I mailed you a contact and they're the best guys', and he said 'no Gerhard, it's too late, it's not going to be alright anymore, it's going to be such suffering and it's not going to work in the end, and I don't want to let my children even see me in conditions like that - I decided to do just nothing, I decided to just spend the last days in the best ways that I could'. And I said 'oh shit'... it's really hard, you know.
"And now he's one of the guys I think regularly about, and I'm just trying to... you know, he always said to me 'Gerhard, let's do a race at Goodwood - Damon Hill with one bike, me with one bike and you with one bike', and I fixed it with him, but every year I had to change it because I had no time. And this year I said I was going to do it, and it was clear that we were going to do it, and now he died and he's not going to be there anymore.
"I just said to Damon the other day, when I met him, 'let's at least do the race, and I'll try to get Barry's motorbike at Goodwood'. I would love to go and do it, I really want to phone up the guys at Goodwood and see if they can organise me his bike and I can do a race with Damon."
DC: Barry always lived his life at 100% - do you think you do the same?
Berger: "Yes - and that's why I say we were very, very similar. All through my Formula One career coming to Australia I was just flat out with Barry, and this time I was there without Barry - that was just the last days that he was alive. I felt really terrible - it was just not the same. And actually it was Barry and myself and then George Harrison was part of it, and suddenly the group - George, Barry and myself - wasn't there anymore."
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