71-Year-Old Aiming For Land Speed Record - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/13/07-Tyler

71-Year-Old Aiming For Land Speed Record

Gerald Jessup's bike shop is his heaven and racing motorcycles is like playing with angels.

"If I died tomorrow, I'll be a happy camper," Gerald said as he made some adjustments on one of his many prizes. "I'm not looking forward to dying, but I've done a lot of things, been a lot of places."

From the minute he wakes up, Gerald's plan is to go to his shop. He's there from about 7:30 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. with just an hour break for lunch.

"It's a rush, you can't inject it with a needle, it's something that just happens and you really enjoy it."

Gerald began racing in the 1950's. You could say the need for speed was a genetic trait.

"My mother, she was 38-years-old when I was born," he explained, "and she rode a motorcycle."

Gerald was an amateur for three years and raced at Daytona in the 1960's. Success came with a painful price

"Broke both legs, fractured my skull, that wasn't enough I guess," Gerald laughed.

Gerald promised he was done racing in 1997 when he had a stroke, but the urge came back while watching a racing movie.

"I'm going to do a land speed record, I'm going to set a new record."

"My wife bought me the DVD of that movie about the fastest Indian and now she's mad at me. I told her I wasn't going to race any more. But I keep telling her this isn't a race,it's a speed trial. She said I'll still find a way to hurt myself."

At age 71, Gerald plans on exceeding the current 112 mile per hour land speed record in both the fuel and gas classes. 

"I'm going to have a good time doing it," he said.

It is having fun that's kept Gerald happy all these years. You can tell when you talk to him, he loves life, he loves racing and he would love to break that record.

Gerald will try to break the record in Bonneville, Utah, September 2-September 6.

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