Bonneville 2010...204 mph
Leaving for 2010 SpeedWeek. Two diesel trucks, one suport car, race trailer, Rhino pit vehicle, a pack of Harleys and some very expensive hotel reservations. Everyone leaves in a pack and others ride in from other Brother Speed chapters to lend support. Mike Geokan has to remain in Boise for the 4th time the Bullett leaves for Bonneville...health issues. 19 years after he began the project.
WD40 the bikes, the trailer, the trucks and support vehicles before they get caked in salt. In the far background is a virtual city where peole have camped at the 90 degree turn in the access road. It was bigger than ever this year.
Arrival at the Salt Flats
We caravan in with three vehicles and a pack of motorcycles. As entrants we have to pay race entry fees, week passes for personnel and extra vehicle passes. The ERC racing gas is purchased at the Salt Flats and the gas tank is sealed for all record attempts. No seal, or a broken seal and no record.
Setting Up in the Pits
Trailer. Canopy. Generator. Heliarc. Compressor. Chairs. Ice chests. Drinks. Tools....all sorts of things. No 450,000 dollar transporter, just a Haulmark trailer and a couple of diesel trucks. Everyone maxes out their budget whatever it is.
SCTA-BNI Tech Inspection
Tech Inspection. The Bullett only required one additional safety wire to pass tech. Nick Stock and Mark drilled the axle in the inspection area highly impressing the white shirt dudes. Having passed multiple inspections in 2008 and 2009 there is always something else the inspectors will find.
Bryan Stock rides to Bonneville and competes on the Bullett. Motorcyclists who race at Bonneville don't generally ride to Bonneville on a motorcycle. Sometimes it's not feasible as you put your race bike in a van etc...But most of the time no one has any intention of riding to Bonneville on a motorcycle. They don't know what they are missing. If you are a patch holder there is no question about the mode of transport. Scott drove the diesel truck and race trailer combination at a leisurely 90 mph then got to ride his Titan everyday on the way to the pits also at a leisurely 90 mph.
After each run you have to pass through tech to get your tire inspected. After the turbo Hayabusas started outrunning their 186 mph Z rated tires the SCTA-BNI mandated race only tires with minimal rubber to prevent build up of heat and consequent chunking. All bikes have to have their tires inspected after each run and a special sticker is required for the tires.
Back in 1992 we were plugging riders into our GSXR Suzukis like Henry Louie, Fred Wiley, Rick Yaccouci and JW Winslett and they all went into the 200 clubs at El Mirage and Bonneville, all well under 220 mph. Mike Geokan's 104" Harley Davidson Blue Bike ran a best of 199 mph on street tires.. These days the Hayabusas are running 270 mph on asphalt and up to 250, conditions permitting, on the salt. The rules had to change.
Here Nick, Scott and Walt do their chores prepping the rear Goodyear 300 mph LSR tire for SCTA inspection after a run down the course.
This is the new tire inspection sticker. Even though the Bullett has 300 mph rated Goodyear LSR car tires they also have to be inspected. THE SCTA-BNI tech personnel visually inspect them, take durometer readings and stamp the new sticker at the inspection station. The final step is having the stamp initialed by one of the inspectors.
Mike Geokan's concept attracts a lot of attention. Everyone wants to know technical details and they are constantly trying to figure out what the engine and plumbing is. It's a complex machine that anyone who has made things understands the effort required. Orange hats denote SCTA-BNI officials.
Cleaning things and waxing the polished aluminum bodywork are part of the contant chores. Vibration, salt corrosion, component failures, and stupid mistakes are part of the process.
Would you stay at a place with this clientele?
It used go be safe to stop at a place truckers eat before they turned into mega super-stops. Would you stop at a place frequented by bikers? It's probably a safe bet it will be more entertaining.
Waiting for your turn to run. People crash, the wind comes up, cars break down and you have to wait for the course to clear. It all works however, and hundreds of people get to run, set records, break hardware and get sunburned. Walt works on his tan and wonders how things are going back at home. It's a good time to wander about and look at the vehicles in line. The pits are three miles away. Photo credit Alan Isselhard
Alan Isselhard took some photos of the Bullett and we had a long coversation with him about racing in all sorts of venues. It turned out we had crossed paths 38 years ago at the Monaco Grand Prix. Alan sent us some additional photos after the Bonneville Speed Week. Shits happens when you get out of town.
Ready to Rumble
While you are waiting to go down the course you get an education in 44 cubic inch Crosleys and find out that Crosely also made washing machines. Only at Bonneville. There are stories everywhere.
Shade is a premium especially if you are in black leathers...one vehicle ahead and getting ready to run. People from the mountains adapt well to a large white flat surface.
One look and, if you know your engines, you know it is running correctly. The tan streak got longer as the meet went on.
Ready for a 204 mph run
Nine psi of boost and Bryan hits 204 mph at the four mile marker...qualifying for a record attempt. Next stop impound. What did it take to go 204 mph with low boost?..Well, first you do a temporary fix on a fried clutch, locate two loose wires, and change three batteries. No one said it was going to be easy to shake down a 1000 lb Bullett.
Call Mike..We're in Impound at 204 mph
For the fouth time the Bullett left without Mike Geokan...19 years after its inception. Bryan reads the timing slip to Mike before turning it in to the SCTA officials . The slip becomes part of their official records. 204 mph at the 4 mile marker.
Straight to Impound after 204 mph run
Only 9 psi of boost and 1400 rpm shy of redline the Bullet cruised through with a slipping clutch for a 204 mph at the four mile marker.
You are only allowed to work on the bike for a specified time and then you wait until early the next day to make your return run. Essentially the bike is put into jail, sealed shut and no visitors are permitted.
Seal the Gas, Seal the bike...Impound Rules
Additional batteries were driven in by Blaine from Brother Speed from Salt Lake so the Bullet would have a fresh battery for the record attempt. Mark is getting our race gas can inspected and sealed.
You can only eat so much Casino Food
Mark set up a barbeque behind the hotel and cooked steaks for everyone. Between the beer, a bottle of Black Velvet, and Scott's oldest son Ronny on the guitar with a 300 song repertory, the night got short. The buffet at the Peppermill or Rainbow doesn't compare.
Leave the motel at 5AM, head for the race trailer and get Bryan's leathers. It helps to have a generator and a trailer with excellent lighting thanks to Brother Speed's Little Todd who did all the electrical hookups in the bare Haulmark race trailer. Interior fluorescent lights as well as hookups for the Miller Heliarc welder and multiple 110V outlets.
Early AM in Impound
Three million dollars and 2200 hp in one incarnation has netted 439 mph in past events. Here in the impound next to the Bullett.
The Bullett in full profile in the early AM in impound. Lightning strikes lit up the sky.
Headed for Long Course and Record Runs
If you're going for return record runs they convoy you to the line as soon as the sun comes up. A CB radio is mandatory. If you don't have one it's off to the truck stop to buy one.
Warming up the bike
Rider, bike, and salt. You have to want to do it. There's way too much expense, pain, and flat out seriousness involved for any doubt to be hiding. It's no joke riding a 1000 lb, 99 inch wheelbase, turbocharged missle on a slippery wet surface at 200 mph.
RPM, front and rear cylinder egt's and manifold pressure are monitored at all times the engine is running. We make sure the engine is warmed up before we leave. Bryan on the throttle and Mark supervising.
With Brother Speed Nampa Chapter's Bugsy off working on a Government nuclear project, Nick assumed all the loading, unloading, and "duck walking" the Bullett to the line duties. Drop the bike off the trailer and you're dead meat. Nick didn't drop the bike. 1000 lbs of bike.
You are under the control of the officials. They check your long course 175 mph sticket, your tire inspection sticker and your safety gear. They will verify that your chin strap is tight and they will question the driver of your chase or recovery vehicle how they are going to exit the course. With 200, 300 and 400 mph missles headed downstream it's about like shooting planes off an aircraft carrier.
Scott came to Bonneville for the first time bringing his two sons along for the experience. Where else in motorsports can you go to the starting line and start the race vehicle. Scott pushes the starter solenoid to bring the vehicle to life. Nick puts the bike into first gear and closes the visor when the SCTA-BNI tells him to do so. Bryan powers up the system with two toggle switches.
Mark lights another cigarette...another benefit of Bonneville. No butts on the salt though.
It can be intimidating or a beautiful experience. In any case, its about as elemental as it gets. It's not racing in the sense that you are going head to head banging handlebars into turn one. The history of the place and the free form pursuit of speed make it intoxicating.
A slipping clutch gave Bryan a final 200 mph pass but it could not be repaired for a return run and possible record. Bryan adjusted the clutch as far as he could but the sintered iron plates went South. We held the boost to 9 psi leaving 225 hp unused. Even at 9 psi the Bullett wanted to go faster but the clutch let go.
We declined to apply for a 192 mph record as it was sort of silly. We let another competitor have the record at 170 mph. They went home happy.
Clutch is being revised a bit and the shifting mechanism is being converted top a high pressure air system for more reliable up and down shifting. Bryan had to "heel" upshifts and this upset the bike too much when combined with pulling in the clutch at 190 mph. Pulling in the stiff clutch with four fingers only left his left thumb holding the handlebar. Also, the 14 mph sidewinds also didn't help matters. Next stop the World of Speed 15-18 Sept 2010.
Leslie and Mark
Leslie Porterfield is a 200 mph record holder who has at least a 125 mph top end advantage over Mark's 1997 Harley. Leslie was running Hondas this year instead of her Turbo Hayabusas. Mark came to the Salt Flats for the first time and fitted right in.
The Bullet made three passes over 200 mph but course conditions, a blown fuse, and a slipping clutch left the effort a few mph short of a legit 200 mph record. Best stop, take a few minutes to snap some photos, then pack up and make the trek home.
Bryan declined to apply for a 192 mph record as it was below 200 mph so we'll have to wait for better course conditions and the ever present trickery that Bonneville presents. The 139 cubic inch ORCA motor assembled by Carl Pelletier with Branch O'Keefe ported S&S SA B2 heads performed perfectly. Clutch issues have to be addressed before we up the power to 425 hp.
204 mph and two other runs above 200 mph were achieved with only 9 pounds of boost under wet conditions. The course was a bit difficult past the three mile marker and all speeds were achieved by the third or fourth mile.
Bryan says it's one bad ass e-ticket ride...steady as hell at 200 mph even though 14 mph side winds tried to blow him off the course. Bryan went opposite lock twice to stay on course at 190 plus. You decide if he, the bike, or both are bad ass. We vote two. Filling in for his friend and club member of nearly 40 years Bryan is keeping Mike Geokan's dream alive. It would be better with Mike driving but that's not going to happen at present.
Bikers Invade Bonneville..Leave lasting Impression
Mark aka "Crash", Walt, Bryan, Nick, Mark, and Scott. You may have seen this photo in Post Offices around the country.
Mark "Crash" Mackey ferried a new set of racing leathers 360 miles in freezing weather to Bonneville in 2009 and racked up an extra hundred miles on the salt in 2010 keeping things running smoothly by ferrying parts around and carrying the emergency fire extinguisher on return run pick ups. He also managed to set a speed record on the return road on the last day of Speed Week, upsetting the SCTA-BNI officials to no end, but it was quickly smoothed over. "Crash" also shot over 300 photos to document the trip.
Unload the trailer back at Brother Speed in Boise. Get out the pressure washers and get busy. Salt eats everything.
Everything has to come out of the trailer so it can be swept, pressure washed and rustproofed.
Salt is still in the bellypan. The stickers stay and are not removed. The Bullett has a SCTA-BNI logbook and it's all part of history.
Bullett Naked Left
Bullett Naked Right
Mike makes an adjustment on the Bullett's 1000 hp fuel pump. After getting nailed by a driver who ran a red light Mike is on the road to recovery. The doctors say it's 1 in 100,000 that anyone hit that hard should even be talking or walking. Mike rode over on his Evil Twin FXR to supervise the Bullett's clean up process and to see how his 19 years of work held up. Next time.
Postscript...The Work Goes On
What did we learn at SpeedWeek 2010....Well, we found out the Bullet will go 204 mph with the boost nearly turned off and that we needed to address two issues i.e. the clutch and the shifter. A call to John at Bandit Machine Works got us straightened out on the clutch and we bought $300.00 worth of spare parts and upgrades. We also got some new sintered iron plates from Energy One Clutches. John suggested we put in the lockup mechanism and use 25 grams of weight on each of the three centrifugal levers.
Hey this isn't drag racing but we have another 225 hp we can play with. If the salt is ok at the World of Speed we'll up the power.
We also quickly fabbed up a new shifter as we needed more force and travel than the Pingel solenoid shifter had. Take two three way solenoids, a 3000 psi paintball bottle, a regulator, a handfull of diodes, a bunch of fittings and hoses and you have an airshifter. In order to simplify things we used a 2" air cylinder and re-machined a Pingel solenoid clamp so the shifter would bolt in the same place.
A couple of hours work and two or three days shagging parts. We made a quicky test fixture out of some sheet aluminum scrap and tested the system. CO2 isn't a good deal so we went with high pressure air or HPA as the paintball guys call it. It sort of helps that we used to make air shifters about 30 years ago. Here's how you do it in PDF Format.
If it works OK Bryan can up and down shift without having to pull in the clutch at 190 mph like he did at SpeedWeek....no fun with a 14 mph sidewind and wet salt. Opposite lock on the Bullett is interesting at those speeds. The MC4 MSD ignition handles the shift interrupts.
A statue of Elvis is in the center of the hood and it would take a thick catalog to list everything else. Not all acid was in the battery.
You see all sorts of iron at Bonneville. This was front driver that is nearly 100 years old. Fast never gets old.
Retire and sit on your ass or take your sons to Bonneville...Three Sons Racing made the long trek to Bonneville and had a great time even though they had engine trouble. The trips they made down the course are unforgettable and plans for that new engine and 2011 are already underway. Smiles everywhere.
They changed the rules allowing certain dimentions on extended tails...It's the latest way to go fast on turbo Jap bike. The Amo bike showed up with new rubber after a 272 mph pass at the World of Speed in 2009. Handling issues with the new 300 mph car tires sent the bike home early. The turbocharged bikes were outrunning their street tires and the SCTA cracked down.
Joe Amo tracked down Bryan to find out how the Bullet handled with the Goodyear LSR tires. The Bullett had been driven four times with the square profile and it only wanted to be vertical. Nate Jones Cowboy Tires shaved the front tire for a rounder profile and Bryan had no troubles after that.
No John Fitch this time
Mike Geokan saw these race a long time ago as a kid growing up near Wendover. John Fitch drove this one at Bonneville...And as he stated in the documentary on the project "I drove faster in the rain passing people at night". It sure is beautiful though.
Michael Keaton was not spotted. Val Kilmer was supposed to be the alternate driver. It's all very confusing.
Take your typical Enzo...wreck it...rebuild it...add two turbos and head for Bonneville. Money. Seven figures.
This is the place where objects like this congregate...usually surrounded by older men in hot rod tee shirts and baseball hats. Everyone wants to cheat the air and streamliners are the best at it. It's individual expression at its best and requires a myriad of engineering skills to accomplish.
Nitro and superchargers are the norm at Bonneville. Creative juices flow and artists get to do their thing. Shake the salt.
Raymond Loewy Lives On
In the spring of 1961, Raymond Loewy was called back to Studebaker by the company's new president, Sherwood Egbert, to design the Avanti. Egbert hired him to help energize Studebaker's soon-to-be-released line of 1963 passenger cars to attract younger buyers. Despite the short 40-day schedule allowed to produce a finished design and scale model, Loewy agreed to take the job. He recruited a team consisting of experienced designers including former Loewy employees John Ebstein, Bob Andrews, and Tom Kellogg, a young student from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The team was sequestered in a house leased for the purpose in Palm Springs, California. Each team member had a role: Andrews and Kellogg handled sketching, Ebstein oversaw the project, and Loewy was the creative director and offered advice.
They keep comming to Bonneville. Oh yeah...Raymond Loewy designed the original Coke bottle among many other things.
A regular fixture at Bonneville, Butch Reynold circulates around the starting line
Danger at 286 mph...Before
Take your high dollar custom tube frame race car and roll it at 286 mph and walk away with a brace on your back. Yes, it is dangerous.