Advancing the sport of motorcycling

Len Perry

Born: 1912 - 2002

Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2003

Len Perry was born in 1912 and started riding motorcycles at 15 years of age in Speedway at Hennings Speedway located at Mangere Auckland. 

Over the course of his racing career Len would win 42 national titles in Speedway, Grass Track, Hill Climb, Beach Racing, Scrambles and Road Racing, which included five Senior NZTT titles and three Junior NZTT titles on Waiheke Island and also a lightweight NZTT at Ardmore, among many other victories and podium finishes, and was instrumental in setting up the New Zealand Speedway Control Board which was affiliated to the NZACU and dealt with just issues pertaining to speedway.

He also won two New Zealand Senior Grand Prix titles at Cust. As well as racing in New Zealand he also competed in Australia,The  Isle of Man and Europe.

Len was picked to represent New Zealand in the Isle of Man TT in 1939, where he crashed at Ballacrane after a front brake cable which was too short caused a lock up over a jump, resulting with him having his third finger amputated afterwards by Doctors. By the time he was ready to come back to New Zealand World War II had started, it took two and a half months to get back instead of the normal four weeks due to the extra care needed.

At home he joined the Air force and served in the Pacific and survived a crash in Fijian waters in 1945 when the Catalina flying boat he was on board dived in to the ocean killing twelve of the eighteen on board. Len was one of the lucky six that were rescued.

With the war over he turned down an offer from the Air force and returned to civilian life and motorcycle racing and a new business venture.

He returned to the Isle of Man in 1951 captaining the New Zealand Team of Len, Rod Coleman and Ken Mudford to second place in the teams category. Len finished 9th in the Senior TT and finished the Junior after machine trouble.

The first time Len retired from racing was in 1954 due to a growing family and growing successful motorcycle business in Auckland. He still managed to win the New Zealand 250cc championship in 1959.

Len and wife Jean had two children son Geoff and daughter Dale.

Geoff would go on to be one New Zealand's top riders and Suzuki Factory rider, until his tragic death in 1973, when a Pan Am Boeing 707 he was on crashed off Papeete.

Although retiring many times Len continued to ride ride well in to his later years at home and overseas.  In 1998 aged 86 he rode the same bike he had ridden in 1951 in the Isle of Man at the 100th anniversary of the Dutch TT at Assen.

It was at the annual Classic meeting at Pukekohe in 1999 where Giacomo Agostini appeared that Len finally retired after 67 years of active racing, this time for good.

While no longer racing he did continue to ride in regularity parades at the Classic festival right up to 2001.

Len passed away aged 90 years old in 2002.

Prepared for the MNZ Hall of Fame by Ian Dawson / Fast Kiwi Media