Smokin’ Smokers: Part 1 – Polishing up the Benchmark

benchmark (n.)also bench-mark, “surveyor’s point of reference,” 1838, from a specialized surveyors’ use of bench (n.) + mark (n.1); figurative sense is from 1884.

An online friend, who’d spent the day in Birmingham, sent me through a photograph and a trivia question yesterday evening…

“Zoom in to the area below the centre of the visor of Barry Sheene’s 1976 helmet. What do you spot? And for 10 points, what was its purpose?”

As I was sitting up in bed at the time – Thoughtful Man and I were catching up on a saved episode of ‘Pointless’ (I’d just got a Pointless Answer with Rutherford B. Hayes …/buffs nails) – and my iPad would only blow the image up so far, I decided to give it a good, hard stare and hazard a wild guess…


I was hopelessly wrong of course, but my friend is nothing if not incredibly kind…

“Close, but no cigar. Sheene was a chain smoker, so he drilled that hole in his helmet so he could have a few drags on the race start-line immediately before the flag fell. It’s sad, I bet only a handful of Suzuki staff & visitors would even realise that hole existed in one of their historic exhibits.”

We wrote about the Bonhams Stafford auction a few weeks back and pulled out our pick of the products then.

Top of our list – aside from the many, many motorcycles that we would have loved to have been able to drop some pound notes on – was the 1974 Bell race helmet that is said to have been worn by Barry Sheene during his infamous Daytona crash in the same year.

It was up for sale at the weekend with a reserve price of just £5000; and even at this amount it was way past our budget. But it eventually sold for £15,625 (including sales premium).

Not too bad for a lid that’s over 35 year’s old, is scuffed out of recognition and even has a hole drilled into the front chin-guard for a cheeky cigarette!

If Dear Reader is at all unfamiliar with Barry/\ Sheene, there now follows a short information film, detailing the bad breaks that befell him in pursuit of his racing dreams…


Just what I’ve come to expect of a smoker in these Times of official sounding statements like ‘SMOKING WILL KILL YOU’ and ‘YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO‘ – Bravery and Sexiness… Don’t believe me on the amount he smoked?

And he was famous for his pong

Then my online pal went and sent through two more attributes I constantly find in the majority of smokers that I encounter: Generosity and Cleverness…

“Another factoid about Sheene: In his early days of racing, the leathers riders wore were simply that. Just leather. A number of riders broke their back during a crash, and Sheene considered the visors on his helmet. He got 8-10 of them and wired them up like the armour on an armadillo – They’d be flexible in one direction & rigid in the opposite direction. It worked, and he literally gave away his ‘invention’ to Italian leathers maker Dainese

Bravery, Sexiness, Cleverness, Generosity and a certain X Factor (in Mr Sheene’s case, his smell), it occurred to me that these would be fine criteria to judge others by…

So, if Dear Reader has any suggestions for recipients of the title ‘Smokin’ Smoker’, please let me know in the comments and I would be happy to consider…

*/ponders… Is that Have a Song, Clicky, or are you making a suggestion?*

*By George, I think he’s got it… /smiles broadly…*

11 thoughts on “Smokin’ Smokers: Part 1 – Polishing up the Benchmark

  1. That Mr Sheene really could shine on all surfaces*.

    *Youngsters & non-Brits may not be familiar with the brand tag-line of Mr Sheen Furniture polish.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a friend who did the same with his motorbike helmet. He never admitted to getting the idea elsewhere. Maybe he thought it up himself – there could be a lot of helmets with that hole drilled in them 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to find an image or footage of him using the smoke hole…

      *No, Clicky, that’s just the white stripe in the Italian flag logo…*

      * Exactly…*


  3. Lessee…what shall we do today?
    Thanksgiving was so….so…yesterday!
    Time to hurl Xmas everywhere. Ugh…

    Oh…and time to preorder Pete Schwety Christmas Balls!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. *Ha! Just pulled your chestnuts out of the fire, Clicky… Posting a dud url thingy… /snigger… *

        Hi JenEus 😀 I think what Clicky is trying to say is that all that emphasis heaped on ‘Legacy’ from London 2012 kinda rubbed off…

        *Ewee Clicky! Stop rubbing yourself off on me… /moves away…*

        Liked by 1 person

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