Day 5: Friday September 5, 2008
On Friday we got to the track bright and early expecting to take our first fuel class run – racing gas with Nitrous Oxide. The runs stopped a bit early on Thursday so we signed up to run Friday thinking that we would be first or close to first to run. We were wrong. There was a very lengthy line in front of us. They were also running streamliners on the “long track” who were trying to get last minute runs.
When one of them ran, all of the tracks were cleared for quite some time. One of the frustrations that all of the racers felt was that the program moved very slowly. As our rider Mark Brownlee said “There should have been motorcycle noise all of the time” but there were long periods (40-50 minutes) with no running at all.
Part of the trouble was that there was more than one track and they were all several miles long so the runs had too be coordinated from long distance through radios form several different vantage points. They had hoped to light each bike off every 3-5 minutes, but for many reasons it just did not happen that way. We were finally within three bikes of our run when a rider driving the Confederate Motorcycle Co. bike “got lost” on the track. They had to shut the track down until he was located. He apparently turned off early at the wrong point and no one knew if he was down or wandering around the track.
We were in line with a Victory ready to go on the starting grid when they shut the track down. We were told to shut off our bikes as they thought it would be a while. Our engine was getting hot so we were only too happy to do so. In just a minute they then decided to start runs again. Because our engine was hot from running without moving in the starting grid waiting for the Confederate bike, we had trouble re-starting the engine. We started our run but our rider Mark Brownlee shut it down within a very short distance. The bike had gotten hot while we were waiting, we knew it, but track officials wanted us to keep it running to try and move things along.
We were now faced with a heartbreaking decision. We could go to the back of the line and make our fuel run which seemed like the logical choice, but the deadline for getting the bikes inspected at the tech area was looming. If we missed that deadline the three records we had won would not count. The team leader “Dyno Dan” Holmes had to make the call. He decided that we needed to preserve the records we already had and opted to take both bikes to the tech tent.
It was the right decision and you could see the frustration on Dan's face as well as the rest of the team. It was very unfortunate that the program had gotten so compressed due to rain one day, slow starts and the tragic accident, but that’s racing and all of the teams faced the same issues. We passed tech which meant that our records were official and went into the record books.
The pall that had settled over the team did not last long. We all sat in our pit and started to plan for next year. The cold Coronas didn’t hurt either. We think we can make some improvements to the Bonneville bike and we think it should be good for about 130mph or better. We'll be a lot closer on our jetting right from the start next year.Then there is talk about a two-engine Royal Enfield Streamliner……….. but that is another story.
At the end of the day we set three records, 2 AMA records and one AHRMA record. All in all it was a great experience.
The BUB people as well as the AMA, AHRMA and the FIM did a good job organizing the event. The weather was great and the salt was the best it had been for many many years. It was my first time at Bonneville and I found it to be a wonderful experience. The sense of history and all of the motorsports records that have been set here is a bit overwhelming. If you ever have the chance to come to the salt to see any races I would highly encourage you to do so. Or if you're driving by on I-80, take the Bonneville exit (exit 4 in Utah) and drive out to the salt. It will only take you a few minutes and is well worth it!
This race and speed records was a dream that was kept alive by Dan Holmes ever since he brought a Royal Enfield here a few years ago. Ours was a frugal, low-budget race team like many of the others there. We were able to do this because of our sponsors. Our team was unique because of the grass-roots sponsors who gave $20 (or whatever they could) over the past few years. This support kept the team motivated and intact for the duration.
The people who volunteered to help with building the motorcycles, riding them, and supporting them were indispensible. All of these people have real lives, but somehow found the time and money to leave work and make this happen. Royal Enfield Motors of Chennai was a sponsor and helped us with engines and other technical support. Both Classic Motorworks and Hitchcocks Motorcycles also contributed many parts and supplies.
Special Thanks to Bob Hutchinson
While all of us contributed in our own way it is safe to say that none of this would have happened without the major support shown by Bob Hutchinson the owner and founder of the Wireless Industry Association and well as the founder of the Classic Motorcycle Association. Bob hass been a motorcycle owner and enthusiast since 1951. In addition to a major contribution of money and he also contributed valuable organizational and marketing experience, publicity expertise, and internet server facilities.
Bob plans to take the story of the Bonneville Bullet Project to the World through the web and International media. Browsers can see a Bob Hutchinson bio on the web. In addition to all his financial and other support, Bob sent a three-person photo and video team to document the entire event. They've taken hours of fabulous video and hundreds of professional photos. Bob will be publishing these soon at the Classic Motorcycle Association website. It will be worth your time to keep checking with the CMA for this stuff and to send your friends there as well.
We are all looking forward to improving and beating our own records next year. As our plans start to gel, we will keep you informed!
Photo Gallery: Final Day at the Flats!