The Last Day
Very early morning this time as well – lots to get done.
Once we ran it enough to determine the response was good and it would take throttle without dramatic issues, we loaded up and headed for the starting line.
We still had a chance at the record at this point in time. If we can run over the record to qualify, we would go through impound on our way back to the starting line to try for the record. As it was the last day of competition, the record runs for that day would start at noon, rather than in the morning. Time was getting short. No time for any more motor or piston changes.
The strategy changed a bit here, too. Rather than trying for the maximum speed at Mile 2, we opted to get after it earlier and try to get it done in the first mile. Hopefully the extra low end power get the show rolling sooner.
Air density was up, but owing to the hurry we had to put on, it never got measured, but the temperature was only 44.9 degrees….brisk! The density altitude was 3975 ft., according to the SCTA gauges, so power could be made.
Warming up the motor was more of a trick with the extra fuel on the bottom end, and it was a delicate balancing act to warm the motor while putting enough fuel in it to keep it running in the cooler weather.
After almost killing the motor a few times, we were able to get some heat in it in time to make the first qualifying run. Off Nick goes, and the motor sounding good. Listening for the gear changes, we heard three and hopped in the truck to pick him up. On the radio, we heard the announcer say “and he turns out”, the sounds of doom.
Arriving at the bike, it was more a problem of not enough speed soon enough and a quick turnout to save the pistons, make some more changes and try it again. The time slip showed 9:50 a.m.
A couple more changes, one in the barrel valve setting, one in a high speed lean-out and back we went. This run wasn’t an improvement over the first, and we collected Nick and the bike and headed back to the starting line. They were going to close the staging lanes at 11:30 so all the qualifying runs would be finished before the noon start of the record run session. It was 11:33, and coming around the corner, we saw the truck of the president of the SCTA sitting in what may have perceived as a barrier position to the starting line. Figuring to ask forgiveness rather than permission, we wheeled right around him, pulled up into the area right behind the starter and unloaded the bike. Luckily we had a long-time veteran of the salt there to plead our case. His assertion that we knew what we were doing and would not take long was believed and we were allowed to proceed.
Two more changes to the high speed lean-outs (both of them this time, it was go fast or go home) and a change to the ignition timing and we were ready to go.
We couldn’t get the temperature over 80 degrees, so a cold motor start was the order of this run. Nick was under strict orders to go until he saw the needed speed, no matter what. The time clock showed 11:49 a.m. We had eleven minutes to spare after four days on the salt.
Off he went, the motor sounding strong. We waited to hear four gear changes than jumped in the truck and headed down course. Mile 1 speed coming over the radio was 167.536 mph, his speed at the 2 ¼ mile mark was 168.956 mph, a qualifying speed! We were to have the air let out of our balloon, though as the mile 2 speed was 165.966 mph. Not quite enough.
We picked up Nick and it was slightly subdued ride back to the pits. We missed qualifying by .3 mph!
The fueler’s consumption of nearly 18 gallons of nitro, five gallons of oil, 20 spark plugs and four pistons was prodigious, but not prohibitive in the twelve runs we made down the salt.