Veteran racer of 70 years Ken Lucas has been honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for his services to motorcycle racing … and he’s still racing at 88 years young!
He was accompanied by his wife, Brenda, when he was awarded the OAM on 3 April 2019 by Victorian Governor Linda Dessau.
Long-time trend and motorsport photographer Colin Rosewarne supplied all the photos in this article and wrote this tribute to a racer who is still going strong:
Kenny Lucas – the Octogenarian Racer
Kinda got a nice ring to it hey? For those that don’t know Kenny, he is not your typical, irascible old bike racer. Far from it. As a lover of all things beautiful on two, three and four wheels, Kenny can be seen taking up the rear of the field at most classic races regularly on his trusty 90-year-old Douglas together with either a very rare 250cc Manx Norton, G50 Matchless or one of his many other lovely classic racing bikes.
If you were lucky enough to be at this year’s Island Classic, he raced one of his two magnificent blood red Norvins. This time the all-conquering 1300cc monster that at some time held every unlimited classic racing title in this country ably ridden by Mildura’s Peter Guest. Riding such a beast is a great effort in itself for Kenny considering he weighs not much more than the front wheel of one of these monsters.
Yeah so what you say, another old bloke with a few toys. Well, yes you would be right he’s an oldie but golden oldie. Kenny, 88 years young, has raced all over the world with and against some of the greatest names in so many eras.
Yes, good but here’s the kicker – he’s raced his toys for over 70, yes 70 years! There’s barely a classic race meeting without a Ken Lucas race or the like in its race program to honour a great racer and truly lovely human being.
Those fortunate enough to meet and get to know the bloke will readily tell you of his cheekiness, generosity and love of a medicinal scotch after his race day. With his loving wife of many years Brenda, their motorhome has played host to countless racers, legends of the sport, officials, sponsors and the odd tired out photographer looking for a seat where there’s always a yarn, a cuppa and a chunk of Brenda’s homemade fruit cake on offer. This man as is Brenda are pure history and for those interested to learn, a bottomless pit of racing, racer history and practical engineering knowledge.
Walk past his motorhome at your peril when he’s unpacking for a race as if you are within earshot you will often get a cheeky yell and be asked to push one of his beautiful racing collection up to the pit shed for him or vice versa at the end of the day and join him for a quiet scotch. Old school, trusting but sharp as a tack.
As one would expect at 88 years young, he’s a tad deaf, can’t find his hearing aids and as a consequence has introduced many fellow racer pit campers nationwide with an early morning Sunday wakeup call to ABC Radio’s Macca’s All Over Australia while he gets his toast on. At home – he’s absolutely no different. Every day out in the shed with his harem of 60 plus beautiful, rare and exotic racing wives – all with a story – all with a yarn or six.
The generosity of this man literally sees busloads of eager bike club members and enthusiasts visiting his home to get an insight into the man, a tour of his magnificent garages and if he really likes you a ride on one of his steads. Something largely unheard of in this day and age.
Well, what more can this man achieve? Good question! He got to do a Lap of Honour at this year’s Island Classic with Isle of Man champion Cam Donald in Cam’s sidecar. An honour itself as Kenny raced IOM himself way before the majority of readers were even thought of. So what else can this modern day octo-superman achieve? Kenny was quite rightly recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia on April the third this year for his immense contribution to our motorcycling industry, our sport and for helping, mentoring and befriending countless participants over many decades. A big win for the common man!
Congratulations Kenny John Lucas OAM – you’re a legend in so many ways to so many people and we look forward to seeing you (and hearing you) for many years to come!