He's the vicar who is really putting the REV in reverend.

At weekends Andy Haynes packs away his Bible and slips into racing leathers for his “altar ego” as Britain’s ultimate pulpit petrolhead.

The Aldridge lay vicar is carving a name for himself in the high-risk world of motorcycle sidecar racing.

And no wonder Andy, who preaches in Walsall’s 13 Methodist churches, prays before each meeting.

He’s got the most dangerous job of all – hanging from the flimsy sidecar.

“People see a Christian on the edge, doing something dangerous and exciting,” he said. “Just because you’re devout and a regular churchgoer, you don’t have to be a staid, retiring person.”

The 42-year-old, known as The Preacher in racing circles, prays before each race and blesses the grid.

His leathers are emblazoned with Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Results suggest the Good Lord is looking down on Andy.

At last weekend’s Darley Moor classic circuit meeting, he and rider Phil Boote stole the show, taking first, second and third in races.

Sidecar Racing passenger Andy Haynes from Aldridge with his pit crew - son and daughter Samuel and Esther.
Sidecar Racing passenger Andy Haynes from Aldridge with his pit crew - son and daughter Samuel and Esther.

In the “modern” category, involving more powerful machines, Andy and John Bicknell are currently third in the country.

The duo, who compete on a Suzuki 750, really are carving a reputation as the sport’s Pews Brothers – because John, from Luton, is ALSO a vicar.

“One fellow competitor asked if I pray to win,” laughed father-of-two Andy. “He said that would be cheating.

“I replied, ‘If you think it’s cheating that means you believe it makes a difference. I pray for the safety of everyone. I pray we will all perform well and safely’. ”

He was bitten by the bug after attending the Isle of Man TT races two years ago.

“It was brilliant,” said Andy. “One of the guys was a sidecar passenger. He urged me to have a go. I liked it. I was OK at it.

“Physically, it’s hard work. The driver needs to be confident when he’s hitting a bend that you’ll do the right thing at the right time, otherwise the bike will spin out of control.

“I have to hang out of the bike to help it manoeuvre better, brake better. By and large, passengers are regarded as a bit nuts.”

Prayers haven’t prevented Andy from taking the odd tumble at 150mph.

“I was flipped out a couple of times last season,” he admitted, “but ended up with just lumps, bumps and bruises.

“My wife Louisa, a youth worker at Aldridge Methodist Church, is very supportive, but she does worry at times.”

Andy has one burning ambition – to compete at the TT.

That’s a dream The Preacher is confident of achieving, God willing.