Phil Read: a long champion’s life
“British ace Phil Read was born on 1st January 1939 in Luton (UK). He started to race in 1958, winning the Junior Manx GP in 1960. Then he went on racing for the Scuderia Duke Gilera Team together with John Hartle. His good results led him to be hired by Yamaha at the end of 1963, when the first RD56 Yamaha machine was showing a good potential for 1964. It was so good that Read won the 64 and 65 250cc World Championships. But in 66 Mike Hailwood came in on the 250cc six-cylinder Honda and was regularly faster. The 1967 Championship would be another fantastic fight between the two factories. In the end Hailwood and Read were even: 50 points each. With five race wins against four, Mike the Bike go the title. In 1968 Honda and Hailwood were gone, and Phil Read had only one adversary, his team mate Bill Ivy. Yamaha had decided that Ivy would target the 250cc title and Read the 125cc, but Read, after securing the 125cc, also fought in the 250cc and ended up in first place with the same number of points than Ivy, but he got the title thanks to a better total of racing times. After two years out of the Championship, he came back in 1971 with a private 250cc Yamaha developed by Dutchman Ferry Brouwer and other collaborators but no factory support, which led him to a fourth 250cc World title, beating the factory-supported riders. In 1972 he was contracted by Corrado Agusta (son of recently passed-away Count Domenico Agusta) to race in the 350cc class, and in 1973 in both 350 and 500cc Championships. He succeeded in winning the 500cc Championship, with 4 wins. In 1974 he repeated the fact clinching his second 500cc World title with 4 race victories. In 1975 Phil Read finished in second for his last year on a four-stroke MV, behind Agostini and his two-stroke Yamaha.
Times had definitely changed. Read raced the 1976 season on a private RG500 Suzuki, and then concentrated on the TT events. He won the Formula 1 race on a factory CB750 Honda and the Senior TT on a Suzuki in 1977. His last race was also at the TT in 1982. In recent years he regularly attended vintage events throughout Europe.