Freddie Spencer (born December 20, 1961 in Shreveport, Louisiana), known by the nickname Fast Freddie, is an American former World Champion motorcycle racer. Spencer is regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of the early 1980s. He was a racing prodigy who began racing at the age of four, competing in dirt track events near his hometown of Shreveport.
After winning the 1978 250cc U.S. National Road Racing Championship, American Honda signed Spencer to ride for their Superbike team. He gained international prominence at the 1980 U.S. versus Britain Trans-Atlantic Match races when he won two legs, defeating World Champions Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene in the process. In 1981, he split his time between the U.S. Superbike series, and the European Grand Prix circuit, helping Honda develop the exotic but snake-bitten, oval-cylindered NR500 four-stroke Grand Prix bike.
By 1982, he had been promoted full time to Honda's Grand Prix team, who by then had given up on the NR500 and developed the NS500 three cylinder, two-stroke. In 1983, Spencer won his first 500cc World Championship, becoming the youngest person to win the title. The 1983 season would be remembered as one of the most dramatic title chases in the history of Grand Prix racing; Honda's Spencer and Yamaha's Kenny Roberts fought back and forth for the points lead with each of them earning six victories. The season culminated at the penultimate round in Sweden when the two riders collided on the last lap. Roberts ran off the track leaving Spencer to sprint to the finish line and victory. Roberts won the last race but Spencer finished second, securing his first world title by two points.
In 1984, Honda developed a radically new V4 NSR-500 that featured the fuel tank under the engine and the expansion chambers under a false tank above the engine. Teething problems and injuries from crashes hindered Spencer's defense of his crown and he was relegated to fourth place in the championship. In spite of this, he still managed to win 5 times that year.
1985 proved to be an historic year for Spencer. He began the season by winning the prestigious season opening Daytona 200, including the 250cc and Superbike classes, making him the only rider to win all three divisions in a single year. Spencer also competed in both the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix World Championships, winning both titles in the same year, and becoming the only rider in history to accomplish the feat. His career was cut short by wrist injuries that some believe were caused by the physical strain of competing in two championships during a single season. After his historic 1985 season, Spencer never won another Grand Prix race. He retired from Grand Prix racing in 1988. After a couple of abortive comeback attempts, he returned to race in the U.S. National Superbike Championship.
Spencer raced under several different marques during his racing career, winning his first Superbike National Championship race aboard a Kawasaki, but he is most closely associated with Honda and his partnership with Grand Prix tuner, Erv Kanemoto. He won all three of his world titles on Hondas with Kanemoto as head mechanic. Spencer had a short stint with the Agostini Yamaha team and ended his career on a Ducati in the U.S. National Championship.
Spencer now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he operates a successful motorcycle riding school for novice and advanced riders.
He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
Motorcycle Grand Prix Results
Grand Prix career statistics
- 1985 Daytona 200 - 1st