Jeff’s Drag Bike career began in late 1970, with a 650 Triumph. It was not long before he started modifying it, adding a supercharger help move him up the ranks. The name “Hurricane” became a familiar one on the strips; and by September 1972 he had dipped into the 9 second zone on a modest 40% nitro. Making further strides forward, in 1974 Jeff recorded the quickest time by a single-engine Triumph, when he ran 9.4s at the July International. It was a successful season – and also eventful. In August, Jeff clocked 9.38s as he sheared the rear wheel spindle at over 120 mph! He still came back out to go on and win the event! A huge blowup at the end of that season destroyed the motor, and damaged the chassis, but plans were already being made for a new machine, which would confirm his reputation as a top competitor in this era.
In May 1976, a double engine 1500cc Triumph was debuted. Two motors are not an easy proposition, but a 9.6s pass first time out, and qualifying for Top Bike eliminator, showed his capabilities. By October of that same year, Jeff had recorded 8.70s on the orange machine, becoming only the fourth rider to dip below 9 seconds. He ended 1976 as quickest double-engine racer of the year.
The 1977 Jubilee meeting at Santa Pod was the first time that anyone had run eight second passes right the way through the three rounds of eliminations, as Jeff scored a memorable win.
A frightening 175mph crash at the Easter 1978 event thankfully left Jeff virtually unscathed, but the bike was badly damaged. A new chassis was required, and the following year proved to be a classic one on two wheels. John Hobbs set the quickest ever time by a European rider with 8.07s in July, which was virtually matched by Jeff in August, before Jeff went on to run a new European best of 8.02s the following month.This time would prove to be the quickest ever by a British rider in this golden era of the twin engine British bikes. To cap a successful season, Jeff won the ACU drag bike championship, and also set the fastest European terminal speed, at 181.8 mph during another elimination win in October.
Jeff was a determined rider on track, but was also ready and willing to help fellow competitors who had problems; even offering to pull the two speed box out of his bike to help a rival at one meeting, which is no small job.
“Hurricane” continued to race into the early 80’s to good effect, but the era of the twins had finally run it’s course. Jeff kept his record-breaking machine, and over 30 years on he made a welcome return to the track in 2014 to take part in Dragstalgia, after so many years of not riding any type of bike. He has been a regular participant since, as he shows off one of the iconic machines of the era.
Profile & Images By Keith Lee