August 31, 2017 It’s Now or Never

Thursday August 31, 2017

It was now or never.  Our 6 a.m. start was the usual, and today was accompanied by all the luggage as we were to leave right from the salt and head home.

The final day dawned a bit hazy, evidently from the wildfires out west.

The first run started with a change to the high speed jetting, leaning it out.  Not having a lot of data and realizing that we wouldn’t have time to change pistons today, much less a motor, the tuning entailed a calculated risk.  The only way to succeed was with as many runs as we could get, and the event was scheduled to end at 1:00.

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This was at 7:30, and out we rolled onto the track.  This set of changes got us 155.497 mph. Not close enough on a 160 mph record.

Back in the trailer, we changed the high speeds again as we weren’t pulling over 8,000 rpm.  It was now we decided to up the nitro to 90%., and add a little timing.  155 mph isn’t going to get it.  It should have responded more noticeably and heated up the exhaust temperatures.

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Time to get more aggressive with the tuneup. We also went to the smaller scoops to reduce the frontal area on the bike and allow Nick to tuck in farther.

Changing all the high speeds and the main jet, adding 8 degrees of timing and we saw 159.530 mph.

Throw it in the trailer and get the heck back to staging.

This was it as there were not going to be any more runs after this.

Lean out the high speeds some more, adding more timing and roll the dice.

It sounded better going out to the track and once Nick got going it really started to thunder, making as much noise as any other bike out there except Hiro’s animal.

Running back to the Suburban, the radio seemed to take forever to announce the run.  The broadcaster said it was a 166.163 mph run, which was 6 mph over the existing record!  Pandemonium in the Suburban!

Picking Nick up the first question was if it was still running on both cylinders when he pulled off.  His affirmative was great news, as that speed before would have cost us pistons.DSC_4455.JPG

On to Impound to service the bike and get it ready for the record attempt!

Out came the bike, checking the plugs, and then we were informed we couldn’t change the oil as we hadn’t submitted oil for verification and sealing and a viscosity  or oil type change could yield an illegal advantage. Back to their earlier assertion that it be the identical bike that qualified.  We did check and were allowed to drain down the crankcase level as the nitro that went past the rings raised the oil level, and could cause problems if whipped by the rotating crankshaft.

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We were then allowed to clear the motor as not doing that can lead to igniting nitro in the cylinders and destroying the motor.   So clearing the motor, refueling, reinstalling the same plugs and off we went.

Unloading at mile 7, we waited.  Record runs were all that remained.  Watching the runs from farther downtrack, they were working their way back to us.  The tension mounted.

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Finally it was Nick’s turn. He went down the approach and turned right.  The motor sounded strong and off he went.

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Another sprint to the Suburban and listen to the radio as we went to pick him up.  The announcer relayed the speed of 172.690 mph.  Nick was also announced as the last  bike down the track at the event.  Pandemonium in the truck again!  Lots of hooting and hollering and jumping around.  We stopped at Impound to get the timeslip.  It was then that the world stopped.  As I went to get the paper, the sanction director came up and said “We have a problem.  Your bike is not properly entered and thus disqualified”.

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It felt a bit like someone hit me in the chest.

Kerfluffle at tech

I then went to the trailer and got the registration paperwork and pointed out our registration, including the nearly $780 in entry fees.  Evidently there was a conflict with our number 9590, so they had assigned a different number at the signup trailer.  This number was 749.  Now I remember seeing it over Nick’s shoulder and not thinking much of it as it was the displacement and model of the motor in the bike.  If it had been any other number it would have attracted my attention, but not having raced with them before it didn’t.  So we went in search through the technical inspection sheets for the answer.  I was starting to get a bit wound up at this point in time and luckily Fred came up and suggested stepping away as he was certain they would do all they could for us.  I had my misgivings based on the immediate and offhand disqualification statement delivered to me earlier.

After a bit, the chief technical steward came up with the tech sheet and the bike, in fact, had been Scrutineered as 9590, not 749.  After a discussion with the sanction director, it was determined that it was a clerical error, not a rules violation and the record was allowed.

I was nearly unable to stand with relief, and immediately looked for a chair.

It was at this time I looked over at the Suburban and Louie asked “Where is Nick?”  Evidently in all the excitement, the object of consternation was momentarily forgotten.

Bonneville 2017 Nick

An immediate zoom down the salt ensued.  As it happened, the guys missed Nick entirely on the first trip by, as he had been moved under an official’s easy-up out of the sun and was not very visible. He was retrieved on the return trip.

The unloading in Impound for certification was accomplished.  I was still a bit touchy and didn’t want to be out of bounds when we unloaded the bike as that could be another grounds for disqualification, and after the most recent incident I wasn’t about to take a chance.

It was a welcome relief when the displacement was verified and we were able to head back to the pits.

Fueler tech

Getting a chance to celebrate with the Swiss team was a great end to the racing.

We were also presented boxes of Pasta and Coke Zero by them as a thank you and a way to get rid of things they couldn’t take back home with them.

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Due to the fact that it took so long to get all the administrative work done for Nick’s record, an immediate load-up was necessary.  Nobody was looking forward to the 26 hour drive back home, and we didn’t have the time or money to stop along the way.

Loading up was another process that took another couple of hours after the obligatory photos.  It would be easy to overlook the help given by all the crew at this point. I want to thank Bob Crook, Louie Lamore, Noel Hackbarth, Mike Dean, Fred Weege, Nick Moore, and and my wife, Patty, for going the extra miles, literally. A special thanks goes out to Adam Weege, Fred’s son, and Mike Dean, for the photographic documentation along with George and Mary Lulling, along with WJ and Terri for their extra help.

Bonneville 2017 group

Once the salt that could be removed was, we headed out to the Interstate.  At the “Boat Landing” entrance and exit we posed for the photos by the world famous sign.

Mike Dean took the controls as we headed home.

We decided to take an alternate to the big hill out of Salt Lake City.  Hopping off at 215, and taking I-84 from Ogden, we followed the train route and eased the burden on the stressed transmission. The hills in Wyoming were still a test, but we got back intact.

It was the next two days spent under the vehicles washing off the salt and hosing out the trailer, three times each, wet and salty work.

I hope all of you who have stuck with us over the last four years enjoyed this missive.  It is a labor of love, both the racing and recounting of events.

To be able to set a national Land Speed Record with each bike is a dream I had since I was fifteen years old.  Seeing Craig Breedlove’s “Spirit of America” nose down in the water at the end of the salt flats at a young age, showed me that was a place I had to go.  I remember telling one of my professors at the UW-Madison I was going to do that one day.  This drew a skeptical look.  You just never know.

This blog began in December of 2013, as I am reminded every time I open the file.  It has been quite a journey, but one whose outcome could hardly have been predicted.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, family and friends, as we couldn’t have done it without you!

Stay tuned for the end of season announcement of a shop party to celebrate!  I am anticipating it in early November or early December as we still have two more Top Fuel Bike races to work with Sam Wills and Mitch Brown.

Cheers!

Bill

UPDATE OCTOBER 24, 2017    SHOP PARTY FINALIZED!

We will be celebrating the 2017 season on Sunday November 12 here at the shop from 2 to 6 pm.  Come join us and meet racers from Roadracing, Land Speed Racing and Drag Racing.  Special guests and an author showcase will be among the highlights along with refreshments and Sponsor Thank-Yous! 

When:  November 2 – 6 pm           (I know it’s Packers/Bears, but it is a noon game)

Where: Motorcycle Performance   5205 University Ave.   Madison WI  608-238-1195

 

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