MotoGP guru joins the greats in Hall of Fame
Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner are already members of the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame presented by Speedcafe.com and they have now been joined by a man who was integral to their success, Jeremy Burgess.
Gardner became the first Australian to win the 500cc world championship in 1987 with Burgess as crew chief, and the South Australian held the same role for Doohan’s run of five straight from 1994 to 1998.
He is arguably more famously known, however, as the crew chief for Valentino Rossi, teaming up with the Italian for his rookie premier class season in 2000.
Burgess followed Rossi from Honda to Yamaha, Ducati, and back to Yamaha before the two split at the end of 2013 after a partnership which delivered all seven of ‘The Doctor’s’ championships at the top tier of grand prix motorcycle racing.
On top of those 13 titles, he was a mechanic to Freddie Spencer when the American triumphed in both 250cc and 500cc 1985.
“It’s not something that you ever set about when you embark on a career,” Burgess told Speedcafe.com of his induction.
“But everybody who goes out and does anything like this certainly likes to get to the top of the field and that’s what it’s all about, the same as the riders and drivers, to be the top of your field, and I was lucky enough to get to that point.”
A rider himself in Australia in the 1970s, Burgess is a fan of other forms of motorsport and attends Supercars events on occasion.
He says that the company he has joined as a member of the Hall of Fame makes the honour even more significant.
“To see the list of names that are on there in previous years, it’s almost humbling to sort of be placed in the company of greats like Sir Jack Brabham, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Troy Corser, those sorts of people,” said Burgess.
“It’s something unexpected and certainly extremely humbling.”
It speaks volumes to the regard in which Burgess is held that Rossi specifically requested his services when Honda was trying to lure the then-reigning 250cc world champion.
That was, of course, before Rossi wrote himself into the history books with seven 500cc/MotoGP crowns, second only to his legendary compatriot Giacomo Agostini.
Burgess, however, remembers his first as a crew chief most fondly.
“Wayne Gardner winning the first 500 title for an Australian was certainly a big moment for Australian motorcycling and a direct result of that was the interest generated by Wayne,” explained the 64-year-old, who was joined at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre by wife Claudine.
“Out of that we ended up with the grand prix at Phillip Island and the successful building of the circuit at Eastern Creek, so the momentum that was started with Wayne and carried on through Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner, and even to the likes of Troy Corser and all Australians who have followed.
“Although he only won the one title, he certainly got the ball rolling in Australia and got everybody’s attention on grand prix motorcycle racing.”