The debate over who is the greatest racer of all time is one that rages on endlessly, with arguments being made for Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi as the two most successful riders, while others argue that it should be Freddie Spencer for winning in two categories at the same time in the modern era, or Casey Stoner for winning on the Ducati, a bike no one else could, or Mick Doohan, for dominating the class as no one has done since.
Instead of discussing which one rider is the greatest, the respected British publication Motor Sport Magazine has set up their own Hall of Fame, to honor many of the great legends of racing. As Motor Sport Magazine is primarily focused on four-wheeled sport, the Hall of Fame is currently filled mostly with the luminaries of Formula One, such as Jackie Stewart, Colin Chapman, Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda, along with a few of the greats from other branches of car racing, such as Colin McRae and Mario Andretti.
This year, the focus is on motorcycle racing, however. In recent weeks, MotoMatters.com contributor Mat Oxley has made the case in his blog for riders such as Geoff Duke, Barry Sheene, Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson to join the trio of motorcycle racers already in Motor Sport Magazine's Hall of Fame. Those three – Giacomo Agostini, John McGuinness and John Surtees – need no explanation of their place in the Hall of Fame.
This year, more motorcycle racers are due to be inducted, and you can vote on who you think should join them. The list of candidates contains all of the legends of the sport you might expect, and more. The choices are: the greats from the early period of Grand Prix racing, Geoff Duke and Mike Hailwood; Grand Prix racing's first superstar Barry Sheene; Kenny Roberts, the man who revolutionized 500cc two stroke racing, and knocked Sheene off his perch; Freddie Spencer, the rider who in turn displaced Roberts, and is perhaps the most naturally talented racer ever to swing a leg over a racing motorcycle; the greats of the Golden Era, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Mick Doohan, Kevin Schwantz; Valentino Rossi, widely regarded by many fans as the greatest racer of all time; Casey Stoner, the man who beat Rossi, and gave Ducati their first ever MotoGP title; and Joey Dunlop, a man who can rightly claim to be the greatest roads racer of all time, and still has a special place in the hearts of many racers around the world.
To hear a thoughtful and considered opinion on the names on the list, you can listen to the special episode of the Motor Sport Magazine Podcast, featuring Mat Oxley and former Grand Prix racer Jeremy McWilliams. Once you've heard what they have had to say, you can vote for the riders you believe deserve to be in the Hall of Fame here. Given their status and their ability, the only shame is that you cannot vote for them all.