Eric Teboul was born in 1962 in Clichy, a suburb of Paris. Little did his parents know at the time what their boy would achieve on two wheels. Eric’s first motorcycle was a 50cc moped that his parents bought him to ride to school when he was 14. When he turned 16 it was replaced by a Yamaha 125. By the age of 18, Eric’s love of bikes was starting to show and he now owned several, including a Kawasaki 400 KH, Honda 1100 GL and a HONDA 1000 CBX. The Honda 1000 CBX still sits in his garage alongside the Rocket bike that would carry him to glory.
Eric first encountered drag racing bikes through helping his brother Philippe Teboul, better known to us as Bob Feeler, a stage name dating from his time in a band. Eric helped his brother build his first bike for the Top Fuel class. The bike then became Eric’s, while Philippe went on to race not only bikes but cars as well. In 1985 Eric debuted in Top Fuel, running on methanol before switching to nitromethane. He would later hold both ends of the European TFB record at 6.48sec/216 mph.
Eric had started to build the famed Rocket bike in the same year, and it was at last ready to test in 2000, once he had secured all the correct certification from Aerospace welding control. Test runs were held at the Orgères track in the Loire Valley in 2001 producing an eighth-mile, 4.5-second shakedown pass. As Eric and the Rocket bike became as one, the catalytic pressure became higher, the personal bests started to flow and markers were set.
Over Santa Pod’s Easter weekend in 2003, Eric clocked 3.889sec/226mph over the eighth-mile on the way to a slowing 6.17/181.26 at the quarter, but he was determined to run a 5-second pass at Santa Pod, the home of Sammy Miller’s Rocket cars, Vanishing Point and Oxygen, a lasting inspiration to Eric.
Eric’s next Rocket bike milestone came in May that year at Santa Pod’s Speed Freaks Ball. With the boost pressure now set at 50 bar, Eric flew off the start line to clock 5.96sec/183.18mph over the quarter-mile, the first 5-second pass on two wheels outside the USA. The following years saw records fall further.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Eric took the bike to America in 2013 to run at the Man Cup at the request of Jay Regan, the promoter. Eric wowed the American fans, treating them to a stunning world quarter-mile record of 5.121sec/264.39mph. Year in, year out, Eric and his Rocket bike entertained the crowds with consistently low 5-second passes with apparent ease.
In 2022, as Eric contemplated retiring the 22-year-old Rocket bike, his sights were set on achieving a 4-second pass, to stamp his name into the drag racing history books forever. Only two events remained to achieve this. The first was August’s NitrOlympX at Hockenheim in Germany. Eric unleashed a stunning effort at the German track – 5.123sec/261mph – but it was still no 4-second pass.
The last chance before retiring the bike came at Santa Pod’s European Finals in September. With Friday’s programme rained off, Eric clocked an excruciatingly close 5.06/263 on Saturday morning, leaving him just one more opportunity for that sub-5-second pass on Sunday.
In the packed crowd, you could hear a pin drop as everyone waited to see Eric’s final Rocket bike run. Ever the showman, Eric built up the suspense until the familiar 5-second countdown began. Eric shot from the start line more quickly than ever before and the Santa Pod scoreboards lit up with the quickest, fastest two-wheeled pass ever achieved: 4.976sec/290.51mph. Four-second history had been made.
Eric returned to the start line to receive an outburst of appreciation from the crowd. One could see from his expression and body language the huge effort required to pull off such an incredible feat. His departing words to the commentary team were, “Never again.”
It is for bringing so many world record performances to our shores that Eric Teboul is inducted into Membership of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile By Darren Prentice