Ken Lucas

Octogenarian Racer awarded OAM

By Colin Rosewarne


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 both two, three and four wheels, Kenny can still be seen taking up the rear of the field at most classic races regularly on his trusty ninety year old Douglas together with either a very rare 250cc Manx Norton, G50 Matchless or one of his many other lovely classic racing bikes.

Ken Lucas Manx Norton
Kenny and his extremely rare 250 Manx Norton – Image by Colin Rosewarne

If you were lucky enough to be at last weekend’s Island Classic, he raced one of his two magnificent blood red Norvins. This time it was 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.

IIC Phillip Island Rob Mott Garage Ken Lucas
Ken Lucas at the 2019 Island Classic – Image Rob Mott

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 turns 88 years young next month and has raced all over the world with and against some of the greats of quite a few eras.

Ken Lucas Manx Norton Outfit
Until a couple of years back Kenny also raced his beautiful 700 Manx Norton outfit – Image by Colin Rosewarne

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.

Ken Lucas Brenda Douglas
Kenny and Brenda with his trusty Douglas – Image by Colin Rosewarne

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. Kenny and Brenda are pure history and for those interested to learn, a bottomless pit of racing, racer history and practical engineering knowledge.

Ken Lucas Chris Beaumont Pete Birthisel
Kenny 37 and Chris Beaumont 741 getting rounded up by Pete Birthisel 111 outside latter both on Indians – Image by Colin Rosewarne

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 medicinal scotch. Old school, trusting, but sharp as a tack.

Ken Lucas Rick Begg Craig Longhurst kneeling
Never afraid to hold court Kenny is seen here with Rick Begg left and Craig Longhurst kneeling – Image by Colin Rosewarne

As one would expect at 88 years young, he’s more than 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.

IIC Phillip Island Rob Mott Pit exit on Vincent Ken Lucas
Ken Lucas exits pit-lane on a Vincent at the 2019 Island Classic – Image Rob Mott

The generosity of this man sees busloads of eager bike club members visit 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 steeds. Something largely unheard of in this day and age.

Ken Lucas Manx Norton Charlie Palmer on Kens Douglas
Kenny 371 on his 250 Manx Norton getting rounded up by Charlie Palmer 37 on Ken’s Douglas – Image by Colin Rosewarne

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 winner Cam Donald in his Katana sidecar. Kenny raced the IOM TT himself way before the majority of our readers were even thought of.

IIC Phillip Island Rob Mott Parade Lap in Katana Side Car Ken Lucas
Ken Lucas rides with Cam Donald at the 2019 Island Classic – Image Rob Mott

So what else can this modern day octo-superman achieve? Kenny was quite rightly recognised for his immense contribution to our motorcycling industry, our sport and countless participants over many decades with a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Australia Day honours list. A big win for the common man!

IIC Phillip Island Rob Mott Garage with Vincent Ken Lucas
Ken Lucas with a Vincent at the 2019 Island Classic – Image Rob Mott

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!

IIC Phillip Island Rob Mott With Douglas Ken Lucas
Ken Lucas with his Douglas at the 2019 Island Classic – Image Rob Mott

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