celebrating 40+ years of motorcycling

OK, who IS Steve Parrish?

If you’ve been watching the MotoGp telecasts on OneHD, you might be wondering who this Steve Parrish guy is. He also did the TV for the recent Isle of Man races.

Well, here’s the Wikipedia biography. It might help to make a bit more sense of it.

Steve, or “Stavros” as he was known back then (because of his swarthy complexion and his mop of curly, black Marco Simoncelli-type hair), was a team-mate and great buddy of Barry Sheene in the 70’s and went on to achieve a great deal, as you can see.

Parrish, who is known to be a stickler for accuracy in commentary, raised the ire of many Americans last night by referring to Ben Spies as the “rider from Tennessee”. Said Americans were quite red-faced when it was pointed out to them that Spies was, in fact, born in Tennessee and later moved to Texas!!

A couple of the quotes from the article do need some explanation. Sheene and Parrish were known practical jokers. Once, at a domestic meeting in Britain, Sheene was hurt and couldn’t get out for Qualifying. Stavros put on Sheene’s leathers, took out Barry’s bike and qualified it, then raced back to the pits, got changed and went out and qualified his identical Suzuki.

The reference to blowing up a brothel in Macau sounds altogether too far-fetched to be true, but, apparently it is. “Macau…Steve blew up a brothel with a huge bomb made out of fireworks. Steve knew some of the riders were inside the brothel being ‘treated’ so he thought he’d surprise them. The bomb was far more powerful than he’d imagined and the whole joint was practically wrecked in the explosion. Steve was chased out of the country by the police and just avoided being captured as he fled to Hong Kong. The authorities impounded his hire car and charged him for it and he’s still banned from the country to this day.”

I can find no proof of the “blowing up a toilet in Poland” story, but I do know that, very early in the campaign for riders’ rights, Barry Sheene and Parrish were attending the Finnish Grand Prix in Imatra. Conditions there were diabolical, the track at one point actually crossing a railroad level crossing!! Sheene’s complaints about rider amenities and safety were evidently falling on deaf ears, so he and Parrish dynamited the toilet block as an unmistakable protest. I believe that the writer of the Wiki article might have confused the location.

They sure were characters.

Comments

  1. Stavros came from a wealthy background which funded most of his racing. Because of this he also mixed in some pretty well to do circles. As an example a mate of mine who was staying with Stavros while racing in the UK many years ago was about to join him down the local pub for lunch when Stavros said, “do you mind if a mate of mine joins us there?”. When the “mate” arrived at the boozer it was none other than George Harrison from the Beatles.

    • Phil Hall says:

      That would be something to tell your kids about, wouldn’t it? You know, out in the garage I have dozens of copies of the old “Motorcycle Racing” magazines from that era and there are several articles about him, if I recall. I must go dig them out and have a look. The sport could sure do with some characters like him these days. Thanks for sharing that little gem.

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