Welcome to the official home of Phil Read MBE, eight times world motorcycling champion.
Here you will find information on Phil’s story, his current activities and his plans.
There’s a huge Gallery of archive pictures as well as a “Read Memorabilia Gallery” containing old articles, programmes and brochures. There’s also an online shop offering a selection of memorabilia as well as the world famous “Phil Read Replica” crash helmet by Arai.
Phillip William Read was born on 1st January 1939 in Luton, England and is the eight-times world champion motorcycle road racer nicknamed “The Prince of Speed.” He was the first man to win world championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc classes.
In 1964, Phil gave Yamaha their first world title when he won the 250cc class. He repeated this as champion the following year. For 1966, Yamaha introduced a new four cylinder 250cc bike. Teething problems with the new engine meant he would lose the crown to Hailwood. In 1967 he battled Hailwood on his six-cylinder Honda all the way to the final round. They ended up tied but Hailwood took the crown due to having five wins to Read’s four.
The 1968 season proved to be controversial. The Yamaha factory had wanted Read to concentrate on winning the 125cc title and team-mate Bill Ivy to take the 250cc crown. After winning the 125cc championship, Read decided to fight Ivy for the 250cc title. They finished the season tied on points and Read was awarded the championship based on elapsed times.
After sitting out most of the 1969 and 1970 seasons when the major Japanese factories all withdrew from Grand Prix racing, he returned in 1971 on a heavily modified privateer Yamaha with no factory support. On this bike he claimed his fifth world championship and became the only man to win a world championship as a privateer.
In 1972 he was offered a ride with the MV Agusta team and in 1973 he took the 500cc world championship. He successfully defended his crown in 1974 in what would be the last world championship for the legendary Italian marque. It would also be the last time a four-stroke machine would win a title until the advent of the MotoGP class in 2002.
He gave Agostini’s Yamaha a strong fight for the 1975 500cc championship but finished in second place. Realising that the writing was on the wall for four-stroke machinery, he left the Italian company to campaign a privateer Suzuki in the 1976 season after which, he retired from Grand Prix racing. His last race was at the Isle of Man TT in 1982 at the age of 43. The FIM named him a Grand Prix “Legend” in 2002.
A less well-known aspect of Phil’s career was his involvement in endurance racing. He rode a Honda in the 24-hour Bol d’Or endurance race at Le Mans and he was involved in the 8-hour race at Thruxton.