Speed Week alternative, Eddyville, Sam Wills, bit more progress

Well as those who follow the SCTA on their website, Speed Week was cancelled due to poor salt conditions.  The Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials personnel are scheduled to go out on the salt this week end and survey possible course locations.  Hopefully the weather has allowed enough drying to see a good 7 miles of salt, as I suspect that is what will be needed for the SCTA to run our event at the end of September.

Speed Week’s activities were shifted to the Mojave Air Field complex to at least allow the people who shipped their vehicles over to at least run.  Quite a few of those racers store the vehicles here in the States and run at the fall meet as well.  It was no small feat for the SCTA to do this and they are to be commended for providing at least a substitute for running on the salt.

If you look at  http://landspeedevents.com/blog/2013-shootout-september-12-16/  that will get you a glimpse of heaven.

Meanwhile, back here on earth, there was nitro to be burned at Eddyville Iowa’s premier eighth mile dragstrip.

I had the opportunity to work for Sam Wills as he shook out new clutch control combinations at the WMDRA meet there.  A couple of videos of his weekend’s work are on http://www.cycledrag.com


An extra dimension was unexpectedly added to the outing by the break-in, theft and vandalizing of Sam’s trailer at his shop in Oklahoma City.  It was seen as a revenge deal as only specialized parts and tools unique to that bike were stolen.  It appears a former disgruntled employee had an intent to keep them from racing.  While most of the larger items were remade (starter, clutch adjustment tools, etc.) the replacement generators and missing smaller items made for an occasionally eventful process.  My hat is off to Sam and the crew in overcoming this hurdle.

There was a lot of learning to be done by me in catching up on current Top Fuel Motorcycle technology and the opportunity to learn from Sam and Mike Dryden was great.  Sam’s crew consisted of Nate, Delwin, Dale, Todd, and the irrepressible Bruno.  If you watch videos, you will immediately know who Bruno is.   Along with performing minor tasks and largely staying out of the way, the designated “pusher” question arose.  The regular guys looked around and decided that I looked the most fit of all of them and thus received the designation.  It has been a long time since I was wanted for my body, but what the heck….  We ran out 250 feet and caught Sam at the end of his burnout and then it was a hell-bent for leather push back to the starting line as fast as you can.   The object is three-fold.  The first two is to get the bike back to the starting line before the clutch and engine build too much heat.  The clutch getting hot makes it drag and the engine heating up makes more power than planned for.  The third is not collapsing after the push.  I am proud to say we accomplished all three goals three times that day.



The first pass was a triple-step of the throttle as the stall speed of the clutch was different than Sam had anticipated.  That got a 4.62 at 168.  The second pass was much better, and even having to roll off the throttle a bit at the top of low gear, it was a 4.15 at 178 mph.  This eclipsed the track record held by the great Gary Clark that stood for many years.

Mike and Delwin got together and worked out the clutch settings and actuation timing that they wanted to try for the last pass.

As the sun went down, a picturesque backdrop appeared behind the bike and the track looked very good.    http://www.cycledrag.com/2015-wmdra-ss-proven-performance-nationals-photo-gallery

After the burnout and pushback, the motor was definitely on song as Mike hit the high-side fuel system valve and then the high idle.  Sam left with flames three feet over the tail and stayed after it right to the end.  Almost a little too much, as you can see in the video of pass from the left side, there is a little white flash at the end.  The reason for this can be seen in the front-mounted camera video where the brakes are glowing, glowing, wheel locks up, bike gets set on the right frame rail and then Sam hikes it back up and rolls around the extended shutdown, brakes still glowing, which is actually a stock car oval.

This was the jaw-dropper.  A  4.01 @ over 193 mph.

The wear-through on the frame rail wasn’t discovered until the final servicing was being done on the bike.  We watched the rear-facing video in the trailer and noticed Sam didn’t toss out the parachute until he was way past the lights.  When asked why so late with the ‘chute, his reply was “I was BUSY”.

It is really great that one of the drag racing icons is getting his due at long last.  He just went his first five second quarter mile pass in Houston during testing this season at over 243 mph, which is thundering.

His next race is the Manufacturer’s Cup Race, August 22-23, at Rockingham Dragway.  If things go like they did at Eddyville, it will be exciting!


Once again, my thanks to the guys for putting up with me and affording the opportunity to learn from the best (except for my crew, of course).

There seems to be resurgence in Top Fuel Motorcycle Drag Racing with the construction of three more bikes in Sam’s shop and more getting their combinations sorted out as the season progresses.  I would hope to see Terry Kizer and another owner from Arkansas initially and then at least one more four cylinder bike in the next year.  Our blown nitro Ducati isn’t going to run a 5, but it is designed to be competitive on the eighth mile venues and in certain quarter mile classes.

Well, this week end is making injector holders for the nitro bike, finishing camshaft  choices for the twin-engined Triumph and repairing the aluminum bodywork for the Pro Fuel Harley, along with the usual avalanche of paperwork that occurs this time every month.

All the best and enjoy the summer.


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