Leslie Harris of New Zealand, age 97, sets a new Guinness World Record.
He also intends to surpass his own record as the “oldest motorcycle racer in the world.”
Leslie Harris is the name that will eventually occupy the title of “world’s oldest competitive motorcycle racer” in the Guinness Book of World Records. Three weeks shy of being 98 years old, Harris, a native of New Zealand, participated in the Pukekohe 43rd Classic Motorcycle Festival in Auckland, New Zealand, in February of this year. The 97-year-old participated in the Regularity Parade, an event that determines who in the field can ride the fastest laps. While the Regularity event is a competitive event that necessitates a qualification race and satisfies Guinness requirements, the NZ Motorcycle Racing Register does not classify it as a race. With his 21-year-old daughter Olivia and his 64-year-old son Rod in the field, Harris, also known as Les to his friends, rode and finished fourth.
It’s possible that his kids Tim and Rod served as the impetus for this whole thing. The Guinness website keeps pages for records that are still unfilled, such the oldest motocross racer and the oldest female ice hockey player in the world. His boys completed the application form prior to the Pukekohe event, but anyone can do the same to suggest someone for a slot. Les had to create the field and perform the job, of course.
And if Les hadn’t been so rusty, he could have finished higher. Now ninety-three, he triumphed in the same competition at the same event in 2019. Les broke six ribs in 2020 while he was getting ready to defend his victory and his cherished BSA Bantam 175cc two-stroke slipped off the roller starters. Due to COVID, the event was postponed in 2021 and 2022, meaning Les hadn’t been back in four years. Now that he’s back to doing hard laps, it’s likely that he’ll soon shatter his own record. According to Tim Harris, his father is currently customizing his bike to fit his thinning and aging body and to get ready for the next race. Les states, “I don’t need to go; I’m not finished yet.” Race fans may catch him at the 44th Annual NZCMRR Classic Racing Festival in February of next year, as well as the Spring Classic in October.
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