ride hell (bent) for leather, to

ride hell (bent) for leather, to

To move as fast as possible. Hell in this expression dates from the nineteenth century and simply implies very fast (as in “to go like hell”); the origin of leather, however, is no longer known. The most common citation is Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Shillin’ a Day” (1892): “When we rode Hell-for-leather, Both squadrons together.” The variant, hellbent, means stubbornly determined (or “bent on going to hell”) as well as very fast, and is an early nineteenth-century Americanism. Sue MacVeigh used it in her 1940 murder mystery, Streamlined Murder: “It was going hell-bent for election.”
See also: hell, ride