This is an article that was written in the Brisbane Telegraph December
of 1970 by Max Jessop
Solo ace Bert Kingston's presence in the Australian Team for Saturday night's
Exhibition speedway Test against England is a triumph for courage and
For by rights Bert should be no longer riding speedway. He could have been
excused for hanging up his leathers after a fateful night at Halifax speedway in
England on April 29 1967.
Riding for the home team in a British League match against Glasgow,
Bert was jockeying for the lead when he slid and fell heavily.
An opposition rider was so close behind Bert he could not avoid running over his
head with the full weight of his machine. The Halifax crowd were stunned as Bert,
one of the home-town heroes was carried to the dressing rooms. They all feared
Bert was dead and from my vantage point in the pits that night, so did I. At that
time I was public relations officer for the Halifax team. Bert was my close friend,
and the friend of the rest of the team and many club supporters.
After Bert had been taken to the local hospital by ambulance, we stumbled through
the rest of the match somehow, then scurried for information on his condition.
"Touchand go" said the doctors. "He might make it if he can pull through the night".
Numb with worry, half the team, officials and fans made their way back to my home
at nearby Huddersfield which throughout the night became the central information
point. Frequent calls to the hospital revealed that Bert's condition was unchanged.
His skull was fractured badly. Even if he lived, he might never recover fully. The
next day back at the hospital his doctor told me: "Your friend died last night. His
heart stopped beating for several minutes, but he must have wonderful courage.
"He fought back from the dead. and miraculously when we were about to give up
hope, he started breathing again."
From that point onwards, Bert started the long, slow haul back. He could not fully
recognise his bedside visitors even after he emerged from a deep coma. But
gradually he improved, and after his discharge from hospital he came to stay with
me and rejoin his wife Annette and two small children which had been my guests
since the night of the accident.
Our troubles were just beginning. Bert was a wretched invalid. But health was
restored slowly, then came the time for Bert to make his decision. Acting against
medical advice and the pleas from his wife and friends he said: "I refuse to retire.
I must ride again". Incredibly, he was back in the saddle. in a home match against
Hackney on July 29.
It was tough going, and he scored a meagre two points, but what a reception
he received from the fans. Before the end of the season in October, he was
riding as well as ever, and it was a bitter blow for Halifax when he announced that
he was quitting England and returning to Australia.
I came with him, and have watched proudly as Bert has made himself No. 1
Brisbane rider and No.1 favourite with the Exhibition crowd.
He runs a successful motor cycle business at West End, and is my across the
street neighbour at The Gap.
Rarely do Bert's thoughts go back to that near fatal night at Halifax - the night
when he "died". Only a handful of close associates have know the full story. But
now it is out, I only hope that speedway fans tomorrow will realise just what brand of
man is carrying Australia's colours and give him that extra cheer towards victory.
A word from the webmaster.....
As you can see from the above article this man has determination, and this is
what has helped to make BK Performance what it is today. Bert's career in
speedway started in 1963 and he retired in 1972.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bert many years ago through my stepfather, the
late Dutton Stibbard , and I must say he has been a great friend and comfort
to myself and family through some hard times, since past, but I know he will
be there if ever the need arises......
How it all started
The Bert Kingston Motorcycles story began Christmas 1967, following my
return from three yearly stints to England riding for First Division Halifax in
the British Speedway League. The first year 1965 was encouraging with an
unprecedented ever present season ( only Halifax team member to ride every
club fixture ). A broken leg and ankle in '66, a fractured skull in '67 were to
say at the least disappointing. When season '67 closed, I decided that my
wisest move would be to invest what brass I had left into J.A.P. and ESO
spares, which at the time represented gold in Australia. I concluded at the
time being literally bent and broke, that as a professional speedway rider my
life expectancy wasn't assured, so home and work appeared to be my only
alternative. In retrospect, had I realised what the word "work" in the
motorcycle industry meant, I would still be in Pommieland riding skids.
December '67 was the "kick off" as Bert Kingston Racing. With an offer
from one John Taylor with some consignment bikes, The Yamaha Station
at West End was to seal my fate. Kingston's Kawasaki Kingdom and
Southside Suzuki shortly followed. Bert Kingston Honda was born with the
help of a service station site from H.C. Sleigh Golden Fleece, who at the
time was one of my very valued speedway sponsorships. The "servo site"
was at the Brisbane suburb of Nundah, an aboriginal word meaning "chain
of waterholes", ironically all of my shops have been within a stones throw
of the proverbial "watering hole". (Something worked in my favour).
A return trip to England in 1970, and a visit to Japan, offered a number of
opportunities to explore my importing and exporting avenues. The rest is
now history, but I sincerely believe the products that are offered could not
have become reality had it not been for the help and assistance of friends,
business associates and staff members past and present.