Bonneville 2008

Pack up and get ready to depart. Van, trailer and all support gear.

Last minute details. Bugsy, with Walt supervising, trims the Bullett's noise for an extra inch of clearance. With a full load of liquids and ready to run the Bullett settles on its forks a bit more than before.


Final arrival at the salt after a few adventures. The van's transmission overheated on a long grade in a strong headwind, so the trailer was unhitched and the van returned to base to be replaced by a diesel pickup. The 200 mile delay put the Bullet onto the salt a bit later in the day than planned.

You need shade and sunblock because the sun is brutal. If you are a participant you have to got through a registration, sign in and inspection process. All crew members must sign release forms and be issued red arm bands on their right wrist. Drivers get a yellow arm band on their left wrist. Pre-entries are cheaper than entering at Bonneville, currently $400.00 versus $600.00.

Medical release forms for riders. Release forms for all crew members. The SCTA-BNI organization has a major logistical effort to handle 500+ entrants plus crew members, spectators etc. Thousands of support and spectator vehicles, cones, radio communications, timing equipment, checkpoints, security, porta potties, racing gasoline trucks etc, etc. It all somehow works.

Load up the Bullett and take it to technical inspection.

Here the Bullet is inspected by the SCTA motorcycle inspectors. It passed. It created quite a stir, being admired by those who like complex machinery.

Reload the Bullett and head for the short course (2 to 3 miles) where the Bullet will be tested for the first time.

Bryan Stock was there a long, long time ago when the Bullett was just an idea. He did all the frame welding and helped form the Bullett's aluminum skin.

Bullett being towed to the starting line. Bonneville is a strange place.

Heat, salt, sunshine, blue sky. You and the salt. Nothing else.

Broken Collar Bone

Mike got too much throttle, spun the rear wheel and the Bullet skidded and high-sided him. Little damage to the Bullett and Mike got an ambulance trip to Salt Lake City. One broken (split) collar bone, one separated shoulder, and bumps and bruises. Here you can see the only damage the Bullet sustained...a few tweaked aluminum panels and a some salt up the panels. The crew removed the windscreen to look at things.

An alternate driver signed the release forms and the Bullet was cleaned up and made two successful unauthorized test passes outside the pits and two licensing passes down the Salt.

All the systems worked well with the water cooling, turbo dry sump system, oil and vacuum scavenging systems, instrumentation and electronics all working flawlessly.

Problems cropped up as two laptop computers failed, with no replacements with proper software available on short notice, so initial ecu programming was left "as-is" and was bit rich with low boost egts running a very low 1150 Deg. F on it's initial pass and 1300 Deg. F on a slightly faster pass on low boost.. The shifting linkage bound up but was repaired after the crash. Steering dampers had to be adjusted to lighter settings. An aftermarket throttle cable caused a few problems but was operational.

All in all the Bullett worked well which is a miracle as it never turned a wheel until it hit the salt.The usual delays with suppliers kept testing off of the table. It has oodles of power and is a challenge to ride, sort of like being a test pilot of experimental aircraft. You learn fast.

The Bullet attracted a lot of attenion. Scott Guthrie, multiple record holder and "Sultan of the Salt" declared it "a streamliner you sit on."

The saga continues. Mike is out of the rider's seat for a few months which pushes things for him into 2009. Lessons learned at 2008 Bonneville will be applied to up coming meets.

Shit happens. Most of it good. Roll the dice. Play the game. The Bullett is alive.

Post Speed Week Actions

The simple fact is that there are no 300 mph motorcycle tires. In fact, there are no 250 mph motorcycle tires and the Hayabusas have run 260 mph on pavement and 252 mph at Bonneville and have literally "outrun" their tires. Our friend Jason McVicar had a rear tire explode and went down around 240 mph...he survived and rode again.

Sam Wheeler ran out of rubber for his front tire on his EZ-HOOK Streamliner and went to an all-aluminum wheel. There simply are no LSR motorcycle tires. Mike opted for Goodyear LSR tires on the front and rear as they were the only tires rated for these speeds. The Bullett was designed around 15" Funny Car rims and LSR rubber as they were the only tires rated for 300+ mph. In terms of weight they only are running at about 1/3 their rated carrying capacity.

Four runs were made at Bonneville on the Bullet, two unauthorized and two authorized on the "Special" short course with the bike running through the three mile marker then turning off. The front tire pressure was raised to 70 psi to get a slight roundness to the tire but the tire essentially remained "square" which made it difficult to make small corrections, especially at low speeds.

After Bonneville we took the tire to Nate Jones Cowboy Tire in Signal Hill who shaved our tires for us back in 1985 and for our other trips to Bonneville. Nate Jr. shaved the tire to get a round profile which will make the Bullett easier to steer. We cut an older, weathered, front tire to show where the rubber will be removed. The contour of the inflated tire to the left will continue down to the sidewall where there is only a film of rubber.

The finished tire is on the right. The tire now has a constant radius without the excess edge rubber. More important, the tire is now truely round and balanced in its "round" state. Tires are never really truely round and, even if balanced, they will not run as true and smooth as a shaved tire. Nate Jones shaves all the Bonneville tires for serious competitors. Nate Jones shaved Sam Wheeler's rear tire that has run 355 mph. Nate also prepared all the tires for Bob George's streamliners.

The 15" tire now has about the same tread radius as a 16" FLH series tire so the Bullet will be easier to drive. If you pick up a side wind at 200+ mph and have to lean the bike you don't want to be on a "square section" tire.

Nate Jones Tire / Cowboy Tire
1837 Reservoir Drive
Signal Hill, California 90755
(562) 597-3369

Bonneville Scene 2008

Tube Frame "XLR"

There were lots of streamliners at the 2008 meet. Sure keeps painters busy.

Trying for 300 mph on fuel cell technology. Ohio State University plus a lot of high ticket sponsors. Went 286 on one pass. Mega bucks. Couldn't find the hydrogen fuel truck anywhere.

Offy powered. Crowd favorite. Run what ya brung.

Yes, they do drive them on the salt. Hundreds of them...from "rat" to show condition.

Blown roadsters are very fast. Not aerodynamic, just fast.


Leo Hess is preparing a new liner for the 22 Sept 2008 Top1 Oil / Cook Motorsports meet with three other streamliners. 180" engine in a Bob George designed shell.

Airtech made the shell of of Bob George's last streamliner the Millenium Falcon. In as much as this is a single and the old liner was a double, this one is about four feet shorter.

You can see Leo Hess learning to steer Bob George's Millenium Falcon liner back in 1992 on a video on our Cinema page. Racers just keep on racing while the rest of the world concentrates on practical matters like retirement and savings. We designed the Robo-Skids for Bob's old liner. Leo asked us if we remembered how we made them...not really, as we faked things with no drawings. All we remembered was the schedule 40 pipe skids on the hydraulic rams with some guide rods. Some things never change. Destiny in a small world.

Update: Leo crashed heavily at a private meet. Details are on his website. Full Blast Engineering.