Gunnedah Historical Society's Bob Leister reflects upon Jack Ehret's land speed record attempt in 1953

HOLD ON TIGHT: Jack Ehret on his British-manufactured 1951 Vincent Black Lightning, a bike he owned for 50 years. Photo: Supplied
HOLD ON TIGHT: Jack Ehret on his British-manufactured 1951 Vincent Black Lightning, a bike he owned for 50 years. Photo: Supplied

The roar of a motorbike engine is a sound that is unmistakable to the human ear, especially when it’s going fast enough to break a land speed record.

That was the sound that rang in the ears of everyone who saw Jack Ehret attempt to break a land speed record on his British-manufactured 1951 Vincent Black Lightning near Gunnedah in 1953.

In light of the recent sale (the most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction) Gunnedah’s Bob Leister shares his memories from the day with The Namoi Valley Independent.

“It was a thrill for everyone who saw it,” Mr Leister said.

“I can still remember his practice runs, he was gone in a flash and the noise from the bike was incredible.”

Mr Leister said he was fortunate to attend the record breaking attempt.

“I was really lucky my father had taken an interest in it because he drove me out there because I didn’t have a license in those days,” he said.

“Dad piled me and a school friend of mine into his fairly new ford V8 ute and we headed out to Carroll to see Jack Ehret ride.

“I can’t remember if it was in the paper or if we had just heard about it via word of mouth but it was certainly a memorable event.”

The Gunnedah Historical Society member said the ride was talked about for a long time afterward.

“Well he did the ride quite early in the morning, maybe 6am if I remember right,” he said.

“Which gave us time to watch it, then head off to school where it was quite the conversation.

“It really was just such a blur and such a thrill for everyone in the big crowd that turned up.”

Mr Leister said he was pleased the bike had returned to Australia.

“I must admit I wasn’t terribly sure what had become of it,” he said.

“But I must say it is fantastic that it is being preserved and celebrated as being a part of Australian history.”  

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