East Gippsland Shire Council acknowledges and is disappointed following the announcement this week by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation that it has ended the Barry Sheene Tribute Ride, effective from this October onwards.
Acting Mayor Cr Arthur Allen said the iconic event has been an integral part of the local community events calendar since its inception almost two decades ago and had attracted thousands of visitors to East Gippsland.
“The Barry Sheene Tribute Ride was an event that captured the attention of the motorcycling fraternity in its formative years, and the crowds of riders, and involvement of volunteers in organising the Bairnsdale departure and accompanying events was something to behold,” Cr Allen said.
“The event grew in popularity and attracted a strong following year-on-year. It boosted the local economy every October and certainly put us on the map for our great hospitality and touring routes.
“The discontinuation of the ride will be disappointing for the many volunteers who contributed to its success across the 18 years. The event was made possible by the enthusiastic participation of numerous volunteers from our community,including local businesses and clubs. This event not only fostered camaraderie but also brought significant economic benefits to our towns.
“Council is proud to have played an active role in working with the Bairnsdale business community to ensure the event's success over the past 18 years, contributing both logistical support and event sponsorship.
“The event has certainly left a great legacy.”
The concept of the Barry Sheene Tribute Ride was conceived in collaboration with the Sheene family and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation nearly two decades ago. This journey, from Bairnsdale to the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, not only celebrated Sheene's enduring legacy but also brought together a community of riders who shared a passion for the open road.
Sheene's illustrious career saw him secure the world championships in 1976 and 1977.After retiring from racing in 1984, he found a new home in Australia where he became a prominent property developer and motorsport commentator. He died of cancer in 2003. The Moto GP will continue to honour him annually with a new Marshal Award created in his name to be unveiled at this year’s event at Phillip Island.