26 September 2006
Schwantz returns to Macau for 40th anniversary.
That made him the second most successful American road racer after Eddie Lawson and, as a mark of respect, the world motorcycle governing body, the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), retired his racing number 34 as testament to his popularity.
However, years before the American hotshot made his trip to Macau, 'Rocket' Ron Haslam, so named for his ability to make great starts, had won the hearts of Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix fans with a run of six wins, interrupted only in 1984 when he was unable to make the trip to the Far East Classic and victory went instead to follow Englishman Mick Grant.
One of ten brothers and sisters from the mining town of Langley Mill in Nottinghamshire, UK, Haslam started racing at the age of 15 on a 750cc Norton Commando owned jointly by two of his elder brothers. Tragically, Haslam was to lose two of his brothers in motorcycle racing accidents over the next 12 years, but he continued in his chosen sport.
Haslam made his debut in 500cc GP racing in 1977, and in an eight-year period had 61 top ten finishes including nine on the podium. These results made him Britain's second best grand prix rider after Barry Sheene.
Today Haslam lives with wife Ann and his children in the UK, helps son Leon, who has followed in his father's footsteps and is currently battling for the 2006 British Superbike title, and nurtures stars of the future at his Ron Haslam Racing School at Donington Park.
Another rider with a successful racing school is de Radigues, who conquered the Guia Circuit in 1991. The popular Belgian enjoyed a successful World Championship motorcycle career for more than a decade, with 14 podiums and four wins, before turning his hand, just as successfully to sportscar racing and television commentary.
With the return of Schwantz, Haslam, de Radigues and Grant to Macau this November, a host of celebrations planned to mark the 40th running of the Far East Classic, plus Rutter's attempt at setting a new record of wins on the Guia Circuit, motorcycle fans can look forward to a rare treat.
Over the four-day 53rd Macau Grand Prix, practice and qualifying sessions will take place on November 16th and 17th (Thursday and Friday), with the races on November 18th and 19th (Saturday and Sunday). The 40th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is scheduled for the Saturday afternoon.
In addition to the 40th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, backed by Rio Hotel, the weekend line-up includes the Polytec Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, the unofficial 'world cup' of the category, the final round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and a host of support races.
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