Bonneville Bullett...226 Begat 8228
226 "Blue Bike" aka "Big Blue"
It all starts somewhere. It can be a single glance and you're head over heels in love or, perhaps, it's just the North side of 1960 and Donald Campbell shows up in Wendover and the sheer insanity of tilting fate against the great white dyno gets planted somewhere. Mike Geokan took a 51 year detour from that seminal 1960 meeting in Wendover, to embark on a trip to Viet Nam courtesy of Uncle Sam, spend 43 years as an Outlaw Biker, write several books, raise a beautiful daughter, became a grandfather; and some 29 years after that fateful meeting, return to the Bonneville Salt Flats to set speed records with a bike of his own design...#226, and finally to start a new chapter.
31 years after Mike met Donald Campbell and his Bluebird crew he decided to build a new bike and began work on a successor to #226. Having turned down an offer to go to law school and deciding riding a 21" over Pan Head around the country was more important than finishing college, he began work on his vision. Those seeds can remain dormant for decades.
We met Mike, his club member Bryan Stock, and Carl Pelletier (engine builder) at Bonneville where they were blowing up Nitrous Oxide Harleys. We told Carl Pelletier and Mike if they showed up in California we would build them a turbo kit for the 104" Blue Bike. We did the kit with and RHB6 Turbo that produced 255 hp at 15 psi at sea level and about 255 hp at Bonneville altitude of 4500 feet with 22 psi of boost. We installed our RSR Fuel Injection System and wrote a program for the bike with four 50lb/hr injectors running in primary and secondary staging. The initial program was never changed and it finally set a record of 196 mph.
The bike still runs on
that program on a 93"motor some 25 years later. The 104 motor shredded
itself when a Carrillo rod let go. Ask Mike where his laptop is..."What
8228 "Bonneville Bullett"
We were waiting in line for the Long
Course at Bonneville with the Bullett sitting on the trailer...Up comes
a woman who stands and looks at the Bullett for a few minutes, saying
and asking nothing. Sitting in the back of the pickup tow vehicle we
watch her walk away, then turn and walk back to the truck and
said..."That is a art". We thank her and remark the designer is an
artsy-fartsy type. She turns and walks away. Some people get it.
Men in Black....
We have provided links in chronological order of the how, when, and where...but not necessarily why this shit takes place. The "why" we leave to shrinks, accountants, and people who know better than us. Ideas are dangerous...actually putting them into practice even more so. There are casualties, there always are. Hang on, it's going to be a long bumpy ride. Men in Black.
1. Visit Bonneville in 1957. Climb on the sign at the end of the access road. Buy a Rollie Free Post Card.
2. Grow up on
a sheep ranch outside of Wendover and see Donald Campbell's Bluebird
and take Craig Breedlove rabbit hunting. See Mickey Thompson's
Challenger, crates of Pontiac V8's, and 300SL Mercedes on the only garage lift in town.
3. Take your mortgage payment and spend it on SCTA-BNI Bonneville entry fees. Max your credit cards to get the bike ready.
4. At 196 MPH
your bike gets caught in a rut and you stay on the gas and the bike
goes airborne when you yank it out of the rut. You don't crash but the
officials think you have.
5. You go lock to lock at 172 MPH , bust off one of the two steering dampers and fight it all the way past the 6 mile until it settles down to a gentle weave, then you make the mistake if veering off the course at 130 mph and hit the salt pressure ridges.
6. You ride a bike for 5000 miles of testing and then see two of your bikes go back to back into the 200 MPH Club. Testing works.
7. You head out for Bonneville and hold the Elvis cassettes until you drive by Las Vegas. Elvis only plays the big rooms.
Your van blows a radiator hose in the middle of Nevada at 1 AM...You
walk down the highway and find a piece of conduit, take a hacksaw, cut a hose splice from it, and
remove some hose clamps from your turbo bike and make it home pouring Gatorade in the radiator.
10. You leave the start line with too much throttle and shatter your collarbone. After an ambulance trip to Salt Lake City you arrive back in Wendover and your crew has pilfered prime rib, multiple dinner courses, desserts, plates and silverware from the Rainbow Buffet and you celebrate your survival in style...at least until the pain killers wear off.
11. Brother Speed's Blaine drives in multiple times from Salt Lake City to bring in spare batteries, leather to repair racing leathers, and parts for the Bullett...leaving his job at risk. Brother Speed takes precedence.
12. The transmission shears off it's mainshaft at 190 mph. Bryan Stock drives to the Salt Flats access road truck stop, calls Boise and two Bikers meet half way in the the night. Next AM the bike leaves the line, transmission repaired. Record set.
214 MPH your primary chain snaps and coils up like a Cobra ready to
strike and lock up things and send you careening down the Salt, but it
doesn't. You escape again.
14. Two Bullett supporters are arrested exiting Bonnevile on the way home and are hauled off to Ely on trumped up charges with prescription medicine deemed "controlled substances" by the Nevada Mounties.. You get to pull over the local Sheriff, find out where their car was impounded, get them and the car out by midnight and get into a big showdown with the Nevada Highway Patrol and the local Sheriff calling them lying sacks of shit who seem to get their jollies arresting and harrasing Viet Nam Vets.
15. Your Diesel tow vehicle blows an engine and you sit on the side of the road drinking Crown Royal and beer throwing rocks at cans.
16. You ride to Bonnevile with the Bonneville Legend Bob George and get to hear 12 hours of non-stop stories about Bonneville streamliners and double engined drag bikes.
17. At over 200 MPH the crankshaft and the rods decide to weld themselves together. You manage to get the clutch in and save your ass.
18. Don Vesco talks to Dave Campos and convinces Dave to get back in Bob George's Millennium Falcon streamliner after Dave had handling issues and went down at 240 MPH. Don simply took off the steering dampers and threw them in the trash. Dave got back in and got the record. You got to chase Dave down in his Suburban pop the canopy and get him out of the liner. Dave is a class act.
19. You are on the start line with a pair of ripped race boots with your white socks sticking out. Walt Hennig finds some electrical tape and you wrap it around your exposed toes, keeping the bike between your toes and the startline official's eyes. You make two trips down the salt with the electrical tape.
You cook a BarBQue in the hotel parking lot in Wendover, drink Whiskey
and Beer and have a great time listening to Scott's son singing and
playing the guitar. Better than the Buffet. Way better.
21. You're in impound multiple times next to George Poteet and Ron Main's Speed Demon, the big dogs, and talking Bonneville Bonneville history and traction issues with Scott Guthrie.
You get pissed at something, hop on the race bike, and drive it back to
the hotel with no brakes,
no license, no nothing...and a speed that is way, way, illegal. Never
again. Well, maybe never again. Jack Dolan would think it was funny, but he
always looked at things differently. We miss Jack.
the way to the Salt Flats you pass a semi at 168 MPH on your turbo bike
and vow not to do that ever again. Bow wake issues.
24 You lay out $2,500.00 for SpeedWeek Hotel rooms at about $200.00 per night. Three weeks later they are $22.00.
25. At the start line the officials ask if we have knives. Affirmative. They ask if we have beer. Affirmative. They stop by our pits and have a beer.
26. Do 5000 miles of testing, with peak numbers well beyond existing records, and you get records in year one. Conversely, do zero testing, not even turning a wheel and it takes 3 years to get sorted and get a record. If you do not pre-test, and sort things out, the odds of things working out record-wise are minimal given the vagaries of weather and course conditions. In short, if you do not test and if the people you work with do not test nor understand their responsibilites and technicalities don't even go.
27. If your significant other does not go and sits at home watching the money disappear you are in for trouble on both ends of the equation.
28. Just remember...It's the journey for a few lines in a record book that no one will buy and no one will ever read. Ha!
years of work and your Bullett qualifies for long course and sets a 200
MPH record...and you can't ride it. Mike Geokan, center above, one day
after a serious operation watching his Bullett leaving for Bonneville.
More operations scheduled...US Army Vet, Two Bronze Stars for Valor,
Purple Heart recipient...Viet Nam Tanker. 44 years in Brother Speed. Anger to surface later...it always does.
27. 2016: The Bullett gets caught in rut on rough track at 194 MPH and you're plowing soft salt trying to regain control as you get shot more or less sideways from the right side of the course to the left side. The Bullett's 45 degree of rake and a stiff chassis saves your ass. You did stay on the gas with the rear wheel going 260 MPH. New Cosworth Pectel SQ6M electronics controlling the Phase Anti-Phase boost control at 19 psi and 330 hp. Bryan survived a scare..
28. SpeedWeek 2017: The worst course in anyone's memory. We broke a wire in the fly-by-wire system and fixed it. The Long Course was unrideable and the short course was no better. 25 vehicles spun further tearing up things. The Bullett had an air leak in the plumbing between the turbo and the throttle body buried in the bodywork. Mike Geokan was finally able to attend as his health was better and was a Dark Cloud all week. He declared, in his expertise, that it was a bad ignition coil. We told him it was not. We had a spare coil...It was installed . Same issue. Egg on face. Fooled with the programming but you can't program out an air leak. Mike had assembled the compressor discharge plumbing.
people the calibration was the same as 2016, sideways at 194 mph...and
that it is an air leak. Decision already made. Eight of the nine above
support the effort. Only one understands it. One absent.
We ended our support, removed our electronics Thursday night and drove back to L.A.. Little appreciation of our years of effort, money expended, and record gained.
old shit in this business.... Work for free, pay for everything, and
they eventually turn on you. If you charge a lot of money meaning what
it is actually worth, and do nothing for free, they appreciate what you
do. As Shane Tecklenburg (Motec Guru) quipped one time in our
shop..."Free is forever".
Building the Bullett
Bub and USFRA Salt Racing
World Finals 2009
204 MPH 2010 Speed Week
2010 World of Speed and World Finals
2011 Speed Week
2011 World of Speed
2013/2014 Testing with Pectel SQ6M Electronics
2015 Bullett Benefit
Take some time to visit the above web
pages. Top to bottom they provide a chronological history of a
particular form of madness that drains your bank account and condemns
you and others to a particular form of solitary confinement in work
shops. Spouses that see money being siphoned off and busineses and employers that are part of the collateral damage.
Obsessions drag many into the Vortex,
some willingly, others by chance...chasing something that may be
mentioned in a book that no one will buy and no one will read. Beware. We make things happen...Most are long for the ride.
Some of the above pages are quite long so this is a long read. In the Bullets case, over 25 years. In our case since 1972. RB Racing is off the project these days as we removed our Cosworth/Pectel Electronics, wiring harness, throttle body, fuel injectors and Fly by Wire system at SpeedWeek in 2017 as Mike Geokan decided to show his true ugly character.. We reminded him the only reason he ever had any success was that we set up, paid for and tuned his #226 Bike's turbo and efi system...things that he knew nothing about. That went over well. Details at 2017 SpeedWeek link above..our exit.
Interesting...same scenario for 40+ years. People come to us because of our tack record of achieving results, mostly because their egos needed puffing up with records, recognition, or simply the drama. We get them results, often on our own nickel, and then it tends to get a bit messy...They either do not pay what they owe, disavow our existence, or, most often, put on the rosy-colored glasses and suddenly become experts in something they did not do, nor had the means to accomplish. Things run out of steam once the door hits our ass.
Time to move on.