Frederick "Freddie" Burdette Spencer (born December 20, 1961), 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.
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 AMA Superbike series, and the European Grand Prix circuit, helping Honda develop the exotic, 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 at the age of 21, becoming the youngest person to win the title, a distinction previously held by Mike Hailwood. 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 NSR500 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 three times with the NSR500, and twice more on the NS500 three cylinder machine.
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. That made him the fifth (& last) rider ever to win in the 500cc & the next class down and, due to class changes, the only rider to win in both 500cc & 250cc in one year. 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 at the beginning of 1988, although there were a couple of abortive GP comeback attempts, in 1989 and 1993. He returned to race in the AMA Superbike Championship in the 1990s, winning three races. He was eighth in 1991, riding a Honda for Two Brothers Racing, and went one better in 1992. In 1995 he raced a Fast By Ferracci Ducati to ninth, and at the end of the year took over the works Ducati from Mauro Lucchiari in Superbike World 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 operated a motorcycle riding school at least until October 2008, when financial difficulties led to the school ceasing operations
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