More On Wayne Rainey’s Adventure At The Goodwood Festival Of Speed

More On Wayne Rainey’s Adventure At The Goodwood Festival Of Speed

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Three-time 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Wayne Rainey’s rides on his World Championship-winning 1992 Yamaha YZR500 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June created some memorable moments for the fans watching trackside and following along at home via social media and television coverage. The project, however, did not go off perfectly smoothly and there were some bumps along the way.

 

Wayne Rainey seated on his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 during preparations for the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Wayne Rainey seated on his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 during preparations for the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.

 

“The R1 that I rode a few years ago at Suzuka was very easy to set up for electric shift,” with hand controls,” Rainey told Roadracing World. “It had up/down buttons on the left handlebar, there was a gear indicator on the dash, I knew what speed I was going. As long as I didn’t fall down as I started, I was going to be OK. But there’s no electronics on these (old) Grand Prix bikes, and they’re not made to ride around easy. They’re made to race.

“The way they set it to upshift was by hitting the kill button on the left bar, and the way you back-shifted it was pulling in the clutch lever. All this had to happen at 8,000 rpm or less with no strain on the engine. It worked perfectly at the test track in Japan, but when we got it there it wouldn’t shift out of first gear.”

 

During testing in a large parking lot, Wayne Rainey found his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 wouldn't shift out of first gear using the special modifications made by Yamaha. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.
During testing in a large parking lot, Wayne Rainey found his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 wouldn’t shift out of first gear using the special modifications made by Yamaha. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.

 

In spite of the bike shifting fine when run on a stand, neither the Yamaha test rider/technician who accompanied the bike from Japan nor Rainey could get the bike to shift while test riding it in a big parking lot. In the end, Rainey figured since the bike was geared for 80-90 mph in first gear, he would just do his rides in first gear.

 

In addition to being modified for hand shifting, Wayne Rainey's 1992 Yamaha YZR500 was fitted with other modifications, including stackable tank pads custom made by Saddlemen. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.
In addition to being modified for hand shifting, Wayne Rainey’s 1992 Yamaha YZR500 was fitted with other modifications, including stackable tank pads custom made by Saddlemen. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.

 

“Most runs were pretty good,” said Rainey, who did eight runs in front of fans during the four-day event. “I started feeling a little more confident on it. Being stuck in first gear, the thing was always going to be difficult to ride, but it was going to be very responsive if you could ride it to a certain level. I was able to do that. Then the weather cooled down and leaned out the jetting, and I actually did some half-wheelies that weren’t really expected. So that was fun.”

Each run, however, was a big undertaking for Rainey, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a crash at Misano in 1993. Due to an unrelated shoulder injury he suffered earlier in 2022, Rainey needed assistance getting in and out of his custom Alpinestars leathers and getting on and off his motorcycle. Much of this help was provided by his son, Rex.

On the bike, Rainey’s Alpinestars boots were fastened to the footpegs using cycling clips; his legs were kept in place by special straps; and a stack of tank pads custom-made by Saddlemen not only allowed Rainey to maintain his torso’s position, they also allowed him to “feel” the bike, he said.

 

Several people were needed for Wayne Rainey to make each exhibition run on his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Several people were needed for Wayne Rainey to make each exhibition run on his 1992 Yamaha YZR500 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.

 

“It took 13 people to make a run,” stated Rainey. “I had five or six guys at the bike when I started. Then I had a driver who was driving me and my wheelchair, my leathers, and the stand to the bike in a $500,000 Rolls Royce SUV the Duke of Richmond gave us to use for the week.

“Each time I would go up the hill, my wife Shae, Rex, his wife Skylar, and the Yamaha test rider would all jump into the Rolls Royce and chase us going up the hill. So, if I had any incidents, they could be there to get me.”

 

Wayne Rainey (1) as seen during a practice run ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Wayne Rainey (1) as seen during a practice run ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speed.

 

As Rainey said, most runs went well, but on the last run of the weekend, the YZR500 suddenly bogged and died. Rainey knew he wouldn’t make it up the hill, and he also knew that dozens of other motorcycles were going to making a mass run up the hill behind him, as they did throughout the weekend.

“I pulled in the clutch and as I started coasting I thought, ‘This is going to be interesting,’” Rainey recalled. “I noticed there were haybales along both sides of the track. So, I decided I would stop and lean up against the haybales. But I didn’t know if the haybales were going to fall over or if I was going to bounce off them.

“I got my hand and my head out, so I was able to turn the bike to the haybales and stopped up against them. But then I started thinking, ‘What about these 60 other bikes that are about ride up the hill?’

“I was just about to put my hand up so everybody could see me when the Rolls Royce pulled up and these big ol’ eyes jumped out. It was Shae. I forgot that they had always been following us up the run every time.

“But other than that little hiccup, we had an amazing time. The Duke of Richmond really took good care of us, and the event was amazing. If you haven’t been to it, that’s the one to go to. It’s a motorsports playground.”

 

Wayne Rainey (right) wasn't alone on his rides at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. (From left) Kevin Schwantz, King Kenny Roberts, Jeremy McWilliams, and Mick Doohan followed Rainey on some of his runs. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speedway.
Wayne Rainey (right) wasn’t alone on his rides at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. (From left) Kevin Schwantz, King Kenny Roberts, Jeremy McWilliams, and Mick Doohan followed Rainey on some of his runs. Photo courtesy Goodwood Festival of Speedway.

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