Frederick Burdette Spencer earned the nickname Fast Freddie for a good reason. The Shreveport, Louisiana-born rider started racing at just four years of age. In his teenage years, Fast Freddie claimed the 1978 250cc U.S. National Novice Class Road Racing Championship. Spencer parlayed that early success into a seat with Honda’s AMA Superbike Championship team, but his big break occurred during the 1980 Transatlantic Trophy.
The team-based competition pitted America’s top riders against Britain’s best annually from 1971 to 1991. The 1980 installment included some of the greatest racers in Grand Prix history such as Barry Sheene, Ron Haslam, Kenny Roberts, and Randy Mamola. Of course, the 18-year-old Spencer took the racing world by storm when he beat both Sheene and Roberts to the finish line for two victories at Britain’s Brands Hatch circuit.
By 1982, Fast Freddie joined the Grand Prix on a full-time basis. In his rookie season, Spencer delivered on his promise by finishing third in the rider standings. The wunderkind became the then-youngest rider to seize a Premier class title when he topped the 500cc class just one year later, in 1983. However, Spencer’s good fortune ran out in 1984, with Honda’s new NSR500 and injuries foiling the American rider’s title bid.
Fast Freddie returned stronger than ever in 1985, though. Racking up seven victories in both the Intermediate (250cc) and Premier (500cc) class, Spencer became one of the last riders to win a title in two classes during the same year. Unfortunately, Freddie’s rapid ascent quickly led to a sharp drop-off. He remained with Honda for the 1986 and 1987 seasons before two ill-fated comeback attempts with Yamaha in 1989 and 1993.
With three world titles in tow, Spencer established the Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School in 1997. That course laid the groundwork for the Yamaha Champions Riding School led by long-time journalist and champion racer Nick Ienatsch. To help dispel some common myths held within the motorcycle community, Ienatsch sat down with Spencer for the Champ School YouTube channel’s latest video.
While the two adamantly discourage riders from applying the front brake and throttle at the same time, Spencer does make an exception for simultaneous rear brake operation. With more than five decades of experience under his belt, we have a feeling you’re going to want to listen to what Fast Freddie has to say about going fast.
Sources: Yamaha, Ultimate Motorcycling