As if by magic the Wizard’s back…

When BDRHoF member Brian ‘BJ’ Johnson retired from fuel bike racing and sold the legendary Imperial Wizard drag bike to American ProStar name Jimmy ‘Hulk’ Brantley in the early 90s everyone immediately thought that they would never see this ground breaking machine in Europe ever again especially after its world shattering times achieved at Santa Pod and Avon Park raceways. Who could forget BJ’s frightening ride at Avon Park after his crash helmet was sucked from his head at over 200 mph or his historic 6.2s and 6.1s to make the British Drag Racing Hall of Famer one of the quickest top ten riders in the world at that time. Well, after visiting the Straightliners Speed Show earlier in the year I can very proudly say that the bike is back, and back on British soil to stay.

Fully restored by motorsports enthusiast Keith Edwards, proprietor of an independent Audi Specialist in Ulerston, Cumbria, Keith is no stranger to speed having dragged up hills a 750 hp Group B Audi Quattro S1 E2 replica rally/hillclimb car here and in Europe. Keith has also sped up the side of the world’s most famous Pike Peak Hill Climb in Colorado.

Photos: Jerry Cookson

Keith acquired Imperial Wizard in 2021 via an incredible network of respected European drag biking names. These included Ian King, Jiri Lukes and Otto Knebl. Although the bike underwent several ownerships there is still one mystery surrounding its French ownership which is believed to have had some connection with retired French rocket ace Eric Teboul! Thankfully, and since Otto’s ownership when it was seen at Santa Pod in a silver livery, Keith has returned all of its panels to its rightful ‘BJ’ trademark of deep red with gold pin striping. Speaking to Keith at the Elvington Show he told me that the bike isn’t merely for display. No Sir. When the time is right the bike will be making test passes someday soon with Dave Peters on-board, a fellow Cumbrian which Keith also supports in the ACU Funny Bike class.

The motor has been fully stripped down; parts acquired, checked and run in the workshop. During the day I was there at the Speed Show the bike attracted loads of interest, and with BJ’s induction into the BDRHoF in 2008 I duly passed on what would have been BJ’s special membership decals which now sit pride of place on the flanks of one of the worlds quickest and fastest motorcycles. Brian, along with his wife Anne, sadly passed in 2015.

Jerry Cookson
HoFTalk Editor

Brain Johnson at Avon Park in1990
Photo: Uncredited