Howard White, originally from Essex now lives in Brecon and is one of our great NERAK engineers.
This year he has a very special challenge ahead of him.
He will be competing at the Records Meeting at Elvington Airfield this May, where 46 years ago his brother Keith raced and won a historic victory at the World and British National Land Speed Records on a bike their father built.
Interestingly, the building of this bike was something of an evolution of fate…
Back in post war time Britain, Howard’s dad, Bill was running a print business.
They were rationing electricity so much it ended up putting him out of business. Bill was a resourceful man and not someone who was going to be beaten so he started a job as a parts manager for a motorcycle dealership.
At the same time Howard’s brother Keith was into riding bikes and this is where it began…
Bill’s expertise became in great demand for those competing on the race track and it was only a matter of time before Bill embarked on designing and building his very own bike. In 1972 the “Beeline Yamaha YL1” was born.
After months of preparation, tinkering in the workshop and lots of cups of tea from Bill’s supportive wife Irene, the bike was ready.
The event attracted many competitors from all over the globe but when it came down to it, no one could match the dream team.
Now it’s Howard’s turn and with a fully restored bike, beaming smile and lots of enthusiasm, his training is in full flow.
“Since Christmas I’ve lost 2kg and the aim is to loose another 4. I’ll be cycling and going to the gym and for now I’ve stopped with the naughty food.”
He goes on to tell us his wife and brother are cracking the whip and making sure he adheres to his strict diet.
This time Keith will be his mechanic and “the brains of the operation” so Howard knows he must do as he is told!
We asked Howard what it was like to travel down the mile straight in a bike like this… “It’s a strange feeling but when you’re on the runway you actually loose the sense of speed, I can assure you though, if you get a cross wind, you soon remember how fast you’re really going!”
Howard recalls the moment when Keith won all those years ago, “Dad was ecstatic and we all went down the pub to celebrate, this was a real treat as 15 year old kids. Everyone had a few too many and we ended up driving back to the airfield, back in those days that was normal practice. I remember dad somehow took a wrong turn and ended up going round and round in the dark trying to find the way back. It was a great family day.”
The Beeline Yamaha YL1 went on to win many races with both Howard and Keith as riders.
After seeing his brother win the world record Howard, then 16, decided he also wanted to race.
He competed at Fairford the following year and broke the British National record for 50cc class on the “Beeline Itom”. A second bike that his dad Bill had built.
So as history comes full circle, we will be following Howard’s progress as his training continues so keep a look out for further updates.
The Records Meet takes place on 19th and 20th May and is being run by Straightliners.
We will be there supporting him, we welcome you to come and join the fun.