2001 Daily Speed Week Updates.
Jon on No. 601
Saturday, 18 Aug.
OK, yesterday the big dual engine Triumph qualified to make a Record Run with a 236.261 MPH Qualifying Run.
On the Record Run this morning they ran 241.220 MPH for a new record of 238.740 MPH. Their previous record was 235.295 MPH.
Not a huge improvement but it makes the record just a little further away from competitors who will come after it later. No one else is even in the ball park now, but it doesn't last forever.
No word on how the single engine Harley did...it is a Mabry Racing bike, not technically part of TTT and was being operated separately. I will include this late next week with the final wrap-up.
The boys (and girl) are on their way home now. If you like what they did, please tell them. If you don't know how to reach them, I will be happy to relay messages. They deserve and would really appreciate any words of congratulations and support. It ain't easy folks...or cheap!
Friday Night, 17 Aug.
Looks like we have another classic TTT Bonneville Nationals Speed Week finish!
This team has a long history of coming early and staying late, of struggling mightily all week long with assorted salt gremlins, then finally getting it done late in the meet. Very often on the last run of the last day, usually with the last tire, chain, plug, head, turbine wheel or whichever part was the current year's "Weakest Link".
Here we go again!
Late yesterday afternoon, Jon on No. 601, the "big" dual engine Triumph made a qualifying run of 236+ MPH. Right now they are in the impound area, shortly to be released to make a final record run. They are running against their own record of 235.295 MPH, set last year at Speed Week...on the last run of the last day, running their last usable parts!
To establish a new record you must first make a "qualifying run" at an average speed exceeding the existing record. Then the racer is impounded overnight to make sure no illegal changes are made. They allow only minimal maintenance, mainly safety related and things that could harm the engine or rider (oil change, chains, plugs, etc.) You can sneak in a bit of tuning, but not much.
Then first thing the next morning, you make the "return run", or hopefully, the "record run". If the speed of this run, when averaged with the speed of the qualifying run, exceeds the existing record...you have a new record.
But naturally it's not as simple as that. There are speed "traps" that record average speeds from the 2 mile marker to the 2 1/4 mile marker; from the 2 to the 3; from the 3 to the 4, from the 4 to the 5; plus a terminal speed at the end of the 5 mile marker.
The good thing is they allow you to claim any of those average speeds (not the 5 mile terminal speed) as your qualifying run speed as it is common for the speeds to vary greatly. And the highest speed is sometimes recorded early in the run.
The complicating thing is the "same real estate rule". This states that on the return/record run, you must use the average speed from the same piece of real estate or speed trap you used on the qualifying run! This is very often not the highest speed of the run but must be used.
Bonneville records are deceiving - the racers almost always run *much* faster than their official record. This is why "bragging rights records" like Top Bike Speed of the Meet, highest one way speeds and terminal speeds are so important to the racers. They are much more indicative of how "fast" they really are. Remember, this bike has run 261 MPH and has exceeded 250 MPH four times. It is already one of the fastest motorcycles in history - exceeded only by a small handful of full streamliners.
If you set the new record, you are off to impound again where they check engine displacement, fuel specific gravity and other applicable tech rules for your class. If everything is kosher, you are the proud holder of a new World Land Speed Record! You don't get any money or your picture in the paper - just a $20.00 trophy and a 50 cent certificate. And the pride of knowing you have accomplished something few will ever even attempt.
They do not make it easy to set a new record. If it was easy, everybody would do it. They don't. The common lament of the Bonneville Rookie, armed with a tuned version of Japan's latest, greatest world-killer ZX33Hiyabuttblackbooster SuperDuper Bike is something like: "I just don't understand it! The magazines said this thing will run 199 stock so I buy one for 12 grand, spend another 6 grand hopping it up and it runs 165. I just don't understand it!" Nobody ever "bought" a Bonneville record.
I'll have another brief update this afternoon after we hear from the boys and I'll try to put out a summary/final report late next week when I get back from a trip to Amarillo.
Jon Minonno - 200 MPH Club Member
Thursday, 16 Aug.
Sunset over the Great Salt Flats
This is the upside of "wet salt". "Dry salt" sunrises are similar but instead of the reflection you get the effect of a "field of diamonds" from the light refracting off the salt crystals, it lasts for about 5 minutes and is breath-taking! This place is incredibly beautiful and never looks the same way twice.
OK, we have a real mixed bag of things today:
TTT bad news - the "little" single engine Triumph is through for the year. I don't have specifics but it is beyond their ability to fix it out there. This means either it is a VERY serious problem, or they don't have a crucial part (that Ed can't make in the trailer and they can't order in time), or it is a complex group of problems. Likely the latter.
TTT good news - the "big" dual engine still has Top Bike Time of the Meet so far and has raised it from a paltry 215 to a more respectable 230 or so! Jon was having a good run yesterday with the bike running ~244 at the 2nd mile marker and pulling hard when a severe cross-wind was encountered and he had to completely get out of the throttle to stay on the course. He coasted through the 3 mile trap at ~230.
There is a line of low mountains that parallel the course about 1 1/2 miles to the West. There is a gap in the mountains called, ummm...The Gap. There is almost always some degree of cross-wind from one direction or the other on the course and at The Gap it *usually* changes direction and velocity. But not always, so it can be very difficult to deal with and can not be predicted. It also usually changes direction and velocity several times a day and can change very quickly!
Ed said this morning things look pretty good with the track and the bike so they are "at it" even as we speak. The SCTA/BNI Website has not been updated yet today so I have nothing more on track conditions or other teams' results yet. Except...
I just got an Email from Mike Corbin's "Privateer" Team. They are our No.1 threat against the single engine bike's record. They holed a piston with some serious injector/turbo problems Monday and went home after a best run of 191. Their Website is http://www.corbin.com/ but you really have to dig to find the updates.
Bill Jenkins from Dallas on the 1939 BSA M20 has set another record in a 350CC Vintage Gas Class of 75.996MPH. 500CC side-valve motors get to move "down" one CC class so the record is in the 350CC class. Best we can figure he plans to install a NOS injector and go for a "fuel" record in the same class! Last year he set 4 records around 75-80 MPH in this class and various sub-classes. My M20 is pretty "fresh" and it will run about 50-55 on a real good day, so this is impressive in a Bill Jenkins sort of way! Go Bill!
Haven't heard any more about the Cooked Goose Moto Guzzi Team from Austin. Hope they're gettin' it done.
For a great Introduction to racing & spectating at Bonneville, see: http://roadsters.com/bonneville/#Bonneville This is really good.
If you want to follow the Southern California Timing Association/Bonneville Nationals Inc. (SCTA/BNI) website, go to: http://www.scta-bni.org/ They are not doing a good job of updating but there is a LOT of info here.
Want to read about the fastest wheel driven vehicle in the world? Don Vesco's turbine powered "Turbinator" has run 459MPH with a final trap speed of 470 already this year. It's at: http://www.teamvesco.com/index.htm They are going for a 500MPH record. The piston boys don't like this at all but fast is fast...and at least it's not a "Taxiing airplane" like the jet cars!
Wednesday, Aug. 15
Old salt racer saying: "Murphy Lives in Wendover".
Good news/bad news:
Good - TTT currently holds the "Top motorcycle Time of the Meet".
Bad - It is only the 215 MPH pooch run from Monday.
Both Triumphs are currently plagued with (hopefully) minor problems. They are changing turbo configurations, timing and mixture settings which indicates they may have "lost the handle" on both bikes. Or maybe just don't have the handle yet. All three engines were totally rebuilt this year using slightly different specs and techniques. They worked very well on the dyno but what works great at 300 ft. elevation may not even run at 4300 ft .. Especially when you factor in the other variables such as temperature, barometric pressure, track conditions, wind, luck, etc. A set up that runs 215 in the morning may run 260 in the afternoon. Or 160.
Ed said this is one of those meets that has been a "humbling experience" for just about everybody, bikes and cars alike. No one is going really fast yet and lots of people are having problems.
But don't count anyone out yet, especially TTT - still having problems on Tuesday is no predictor of what will happen the rest of the week. These guys have a long history of fighting salt gremlins all week then doing well late in the meet. Keep your fingers crossed!
Other bits of Salt Flat News: Local hero and Nut Case Extraordinaire Bill Jenkins is back out there with his WWII BSA M20 500cc single side valve war bike/racer. This year it is armed with Nitrous Oxide boost! No word on how he is doing. Geeze, that thing is liable to run 60-65 MPH!
The Very Good News and Congratulations Dept - From the TexCycle list and Bob Dickey:
"Cooked Goose Land Speed Racing Team (our other Texas LSR team) has set a record in the 1350 P-PP class. That's the hot rodded v1100 Sport running in the 1350cc Production Pushrod class. The set the record at around 151mph. Don't have the exact numbers will post them when I do. Congrats on a great effort. They are still getting the LeMans dialed in but it ran 147mph today (Tuesday)."
This is excellent and VERY impressive - way to go boys!
Tuesday, Aug. 14
Yesterday things were slow on the salt - "wet" salt has kept the racing to a minimum but TTT did get in one run yesterday on the dual engine Triumph at 215. 215 MPH could be good, bad or mean nothing at all. If they were having problems with the bike, 215 might be a good run. If the bike was right, 215 is a "pooch" run. I'm getting the info second hand so I don't have the chance to ask questions but my guess is, given wet salt conditions, Jon took an "exploratory" run to check out the bike but mainly check track conditions and the run is not significant.
The term "wet salt" is a bit misleading. The salt is always wet, even when the track is perfect and the salt is hard enough for the blown cars to leave l-o-n-g black strips leaving the starting line. If you sit on it, your butt is wet when you get up. But it is so hard you need a sledge hammer to drive a spike into the white, crystalline surface. But when the racers use the term "wet salt" they generally mean it is slushy from rain and is in poor racing condition. It will have puddles which very quickly become potholes. Long slushy stretches develop long, often deep ruts. Where you drove that spike yesterday, today you can scoop up salt and make "snowballs". A blown roadster or a big, heavy streamliner will leave ruts several miles long. One of the big 220 MPH diesel trucks with 2 - V8's, 2 superchargers and 4 turbochargers will dig trenches you could lose a Volkswagen in!
This may have been what Jon was checking out. One of his records was set on a sloppy track like this when he found a 4 foot wide, smooth "path" between the holes & ruts on one side and the track boundary on the other, then 'threaded the needle' at nearly 250 to get the record. He said his little path was looking pretty narrow that time through!
A hot, dry day (96-106F. typically) will dry the track pretty fast, especially if there is wind with it. The crews will throw salt in the pot holes and drag the ruts down if they form after they start running again. Mabry said they will be running today.
Keep your fingers crossed!
Monday, Aug. 13
Not much to report yet.
They have changed their usual strategy and are concentrating on the single engine Triumph first and have had some minor problems which are now apparently solved. My guess is they feel the record it holds is in the most jeopardy and want to "hang up a big number" before they start with the dual-engine. We know the Corbin team has that record in their sights and last year had two one-way runs (non-records) faster that the TTT record. All three bikes are running against their own records so they are "playing defense", at least with the single and the Harley.
They have not made a run yet but will today and there should be more to report tomorrow.