Day 3: Wednesday September 3, 2008
Wednesday was an other perfect day. A slight breeze but nothing too much.
When we arrived in the morning there was a slight fuel leak from one of the hoses, but that was fixed in a minute. We got our first chance to run early in the morning. Because the engine in the motorcycle was new and had only been run on the dyno, we were afraid of running too lean. We didn't to smoke the motor because we were too hot.
As a rule, jetting that works well at sea level is two jets two rich to run well at the increased altitude of the Bonneville Salt Flats. We took this run with a purposely rich mixture to help the process of dialing the engine in and not risking guessing at too lean a jet. As we expected, the big really bogged out and had trouble getting up and going - although we did run over 100mph. The plug was as black as could be. We then jetted down a jet and lowered the throttle needle for our second attempt.
Our second attempt went much better, but we were still too rich. It turns out that we actually set a record on both of the first two runs, but because we were just testing, we didn't bring the bike to the impound lot and wait for a second reverse run. This meant that our times were only for our edification and not for the record books.
In order to set a record, they take the average speed of a run down the track and then you turn around and run back the other way. This eliminates any help you may have gotten from a favorable breeze. You don't run the second run right away. If you break a record on your first attempt, they impound the bike and you have to run the other way within two hours (if it is at the end of the day you can run first thing in the morning - which can be good because it is generally cooler in the morning with less wind).
In the meantime, our road race champion rider (Johnny) rode a Triumph Triple with a Cozy sidecar attached to get the "World's fastest Cozy" in the books. The bike was put together by the Cozy importer from Canada, Kevin Dunn. He rode it down from British Columbia. They took the track and ran about 88 MPH.
They made a guess at the rear wheel gearing. Johnny said that when he hit fifth it quit pulling so apparently the gearing was a bit tall. He felt like he would have had better luck had he downshifted into fourth. He took two runs and then called it a day. They are going to run again on Thursday morning in hopes of doing even better. Still pretty fast for a Cozy.
By this time we had jetted the world speed record attempt bike's carburetor down again for our third run. We got to the starting area and waited for about three and a half hours. This was unusually long. Just as we finally got to the the starting line we had to wait for a very fast streamliner from Bozeman to make a return run.
Unfortunately tragedy stuck. The streamliner crashed and the driver was fatally injured. While we didn't see the crash, the guys left back in our pits did. From their vantage point it looked as if the streamliner became airborne and then tumbled end over end and disintegrated. I am told that sometimes even a small wind may cause a streamliner going at such incredible speeds (this one was capable of over 200 mph) to lift off the salt.
Of course, what we know was seen from a distance and there may have been equipment failure or some other reason for the tragic crash. The entire race community was stunned and the course was closed for the rest of the day. Our sympathies go out to the family of the rider and the rest of his race team who are devastated. It was a very sad ending of this race day.
We will make our third run early in the morning as we were at the head of the line when the accident happened. After we got back to the pits I ran back into Wendover to see if our chain guard had arrived form Classic Motorworks. Sure enough, Tim and the boys did a great job of getting it to us overnight.
I drove back to the track and the team installed the chain guard. This was the last thing we needed to do to pass the tech inspection for the road race bike which Johnny will run tomorrow. If we can get a good clean record tomorrow with the speed record attempt bike, we will then start making runs in the "fuel class" using our Nitrous Oxide enhancer. Every one was pretty beat from a long day in the sunny, salty air and a somber pall was in the air from the accident.
We went back to Wendover and all had a meal together at one of the great casino Buffets and went straight away to bed.
Photo Gallery: Day 3 at the Salt Flats