The irony was never lost on me that some of the fittest sportsmen on the planet in the 1980s and 1990s were backed by cigarette companies. Words: Bertie Simmonds Pic: Mortons Archive.
Fag packet heroes!
Wrestling a 131 kilo, 160bhp two-stroke demanded the peak of physical fitness, and yet the logos often emblazoned on the sides of these missiles were not like the energy drink companies we see today. Nope, some of the fastest (and scariest) motorcycles of the 1980s and 1990s looked like cigarette So, we give thanks to the likes of HB (remember the HB-backed Hondas?), John Player Special (JPS Nortons), Gauloises (Yamahas), Rothmans (Honda) and, of course, Lucky Strike and Marlboro for backing our favourite sport.
Wayne Rainey made his 500cc debut on the Lucky Strike Yamaha in 1988, winning in his debut year and running Rothmans Honda’s Eddie Lawson close for the 1989 title. From 1990, Team Roberts was backed by the Marlboro millions and he won the 1990, 1991 and 1992 500cc World Championships.