A VICAR took to hearse power while setting a world record on his motorbike.
The Rev Ray Biddiss reached speeds of 114.1 mph on his Triumph Rocket III motorcycle hearse at Elvington Airfield in York on Tuesday, setting an inaugural record, which he hopes will be recognised by Guinness World Records.
The bike was specially adapted by specialists DTB Panther Trikes in Valley Road, Liversedge, and has been used several times in the past for funerals.
It merges the body of a 2008 Triumph Rocket with a coffin carrier to create a sleek black and chrome hearse.
Ray, a former vicar at Low Moor, said afterwards that he had reached the break neck speed “on a wing and a prayer”.
Following the two and a half mile run, under the watchful eye of officials, the 57-year-old said: “It was exhilarating! Anything over 80mph would set a record but I wanted to aim high. Tipping it over a ton is the best I could ask for – that’s a record really worth holding!
“I’m living my dream. Bikes are my passion and I want the lives of bikers and the general public to be celebrated in style when they pass.
“Achieving a Guinness World Record would mark my hearse outfit’s unique status on a global scale and show the world that nobody needs to make their final journey in a car.
“The Rocket is the purest form of bike hearse – not a side car or trailer, it’s a true vehicle in its own right. I wanted to create the most powerful of all coffin carriers – a vehicle that maintains the integrity of a motorcycle, appeals to the most passionate of bikers and brings a credible alternative to the traditional four-wheeled hearse or other motorcycle hearse outfits.”
Self proclaimed ‘heaven’s angel’ Ray has been a biker for more than 40 years. He became a Baptist minister in 1996 and conducts funeral services throughout Yorkshire featuring rock music, videos and web cam links.
Often wearing biker gear instead of traditional clerical robes, he said he “wouldn’t be seen dead in a car” for his final journey.
It was the diagnosis of his first wife’s cancer in 2000 that prompted him to make his ministry something more meaningful and personal to the public and he began conducting ‘Life Celebration Funerals’.
He is now waiting verification of his world record attempt and an announcement is expected on Wednesday.
“Today has been the fulfilment of my dreams – I just need Guinness to say yes and this will have been one of the biggest and best days of my life.
“In the biking world the hearse is the very last emergency service.
“If my dream comes true next week and I set a world record, every biker will live with the reassurance that they can take their final ride in dignity, in style and in the fastest machine in the world.”