For those of you who are fans of the Stig, you may remember his infamous “Mean Mower” episode from Top Gear’s Speed Week 2013, as he blasted around the track on a lawn mower that sounded more like an Aston Martin than a two-stroke. As comical as it was, that mower was producing 109hp, and had a 0-60 time of four seconds, all while retaining the ability to cut the grass and corners. That Mean Mower is back and this time, and at the IDIADA proving ground in Tarragona, Spain, it broke a Guinness World Record. The Honda HF2620 mower, paired with a 1,000cc v-twin Honda SuperHawk engine propelled the Mean Mower to an average of 116.57mph, to take the title of World’s fastest lawnmower title.
For SpeedWeek 2013, Shunji Yokokawa set out on a journey to set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but what he had not anticipated were the challenges that lay ahead. Yokokawa had always dreamed of riding on the salt flats, but it was not until 2013 as Assistant Chief Engineer for Honda Japan, that he was afforded the opportunity to fulfill his dream, which he describes as “gliding” across the flats. Assisted by a 2-man crew, Yokokawa traveled to Utah with a bone-stock 2013 Honda CBR600RR in hopes of adding yet another record to one of the many that Honda holds. The CBR was set up specifically with one goal in mind: to break a land speed record with a production class motorcycle, but as Yokokawa and his team wuold find out, there is a reason why so many fail.
It goes without saying then that Triumph and Jason DiSalvo’s attempt at 400 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats is a serious endeavor. Piloting the carbon/kevlar clad the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing Castrol Rocket, DiSalvo will have two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III engines, good for a combined 1,000+ hp and 500 lbs•ft of torque when burning methanol, hurling him down the land speed record course on two wheels. The self-proclaimed most advanced streamliner on the salt, the Castrol Rocket was built not only to break the outright AMA & FIM motorcycle land speed records of 376.156 mph (set in 2010 by Rocky Robinson on the Ack Attack streamliner), but the team also wants to go all the way past the 400 mph barrier.
Not that California has any real seasons to speak of, but spring has definitely arrived this week in San Francisco, with sun-filled days and warm nights again on the region’s menu. That means our brief winter hibernation from motorcycling is about to end, as the revving motors of World Superbike at Phillip Island, AMA Pro Road Racing at Daytona, and MotoGP at Doha wake us from our slumber.
For Asphalt & Rubber, our events calendar for 2013 is marked full of great two-wheel escapades that we plan to attend, but at the top of the list, Speed Week at Bonneville ranks highest. Helping us get in the mood for man’s toil against the salt is this great video put together with scenes from last year’s running. Happy Friday people. Get out and ride.
While the Bonneville Salt Flats remains the gold standard venue for land speed record attempts, the journey across the pond for European competitors is a daunting task. First there is the cost involved in shipping a bike, crew, and supplies from Europe to America, but there is also the hassle at the border for shipping and customs that can throw more than a wrench in even the most carefully made plans.
At 4,219 feet above sea level, the elevation at Bonneville sucks the much needed horsepower out of the engines of internal combustion machines, and the salt flat terrain is a less-than-ideal surface for traction, and can vary wildly from weekend to weekend. All of this adds up to be a daunting level of adversity for would-be record-breakers, but for Europeans, there might be a better option soon.
It is fall, which means it is also land speed record season up at Bonneville. While our own plans for salt flat were thwarted by some empty promises from an OEM, it seems plenty of teams and manufacturers made it up to Bonneville to test their mettle against the stopwatch.
One such company was Confederate Motorcycles, which took its recently debuted Confederate X132 Hellcat Combat up to the BUB Speed Trials in August, and subsequently set a 171.211 mph land speed record in the A-PF 3000 class (special construction chassis (unfaired), push-rod motor, fuel, & up to 3,000cc in cylinder displacement).
Racing his own bike on the salt flats, we are having a hard time imagining how Confederate customer James Hoegh managed to hold onto his unfaired machine at 171+ mph — it must be all about the tuck. Check the video out after the jump, and if you are anything like us, keep on dreaming about your day racing at the Bonneville.
We got a quick message from Chip Yates this afternoon, saying that the SWIGZ Racing team just completed setting four FIM/AMA land speed records at the BUB Speed Trials currently being held at the Bonneville salt flats. Getting off to a rocky start after crashing through a mile-marker pylon, Yates went on to salvage the outing, setting his first FIM/AMA record on Tuesday with a 196.421 mph LSR in the “over 300kg class” (the team also hit a 200.7 mph speed trap velocity at BUB).
Yates followed-up that LSR over the next two days, with a second record: 181.439 mph in the “over 300kg naked” fairing-less class, a third record: 173.574 mph in the “150-300kg” class, and lastly a fourth FIM/AMA record: 187.143 mph in the “150-300kg naked” class. Rumors of a fifth record for being the certified fastest pizza delivery bike have not been confirmed, and like these other four FIM/AMA records, will have to be certified by the respective regulatory bodies before becoming truly official.
Lightning Motorcycles had a busy week last week, as the San Francisco Bay Area company was hard at work at Bonneville setting the fastest speed ever on an electric vehicle, and then later shattering that record. Though the team wasn’t able to break past 220 mph as they had hoped, rider and multiple LSR holder Paul Thede is probably still happy with the fact that he spent the better part of the week going faster than he has ever gone on two-wheels before, let alone on an electric.
Becoming the newest inductee to the 200 MPH Club, Thede and his red hat made two more stabs at their 215.907 mph land speed record. Though they wouldn’t get past the mark, they did send us this video of their last run which showed 216 mph on the GPS at one point during the five mile pass. Be sure to note the perceivable lean angle capture by Lightning’s camera due to the Bonneville’s crosswinds. Would you be able to go 200+ mph cocked over 15º or more? Video after the jump.
Lightning Motorcycles is still on the salt flats at Bonneville, looking for the ultimate in speed on an electric motorcycle. After already on Sunday setting the fastest speed recorded for any electric motorcycle, the Lightning crew set back to work on crushing its own 206.079 mph land speed record. Posting a 214.209 mph speed yesterday, Paul Thede had to once again back up the team’s accomplishment with another wicked fast run today, in order to get into the record books. Battling gusty cross-breezes, Thede put in an astonishing palindromic 217.712 mph time to set another LSR for Lightning, which officially comes in at 215.907 mph in the APS-Ω class.
News from the salt flats is that Lightning Motorcycles was successful in achieving a land speed record for electric motorcycles. Making a pass of 206.981 mph during Sunday’s sessions, the speed averaged from Saturday’s pass of 205.238 mph creates a land speed record of 206.079 mph for electric motorcycles (class APS-Ω). As a capper to the weekend, the Lightning team posted a top speed of 208.386 mph through the speed trap on its record run, showing that the “Flying Banana Mk. II” (as we like to call it) had a bit more pep left in it during its run.
We just got a phone call from Richard Hatfield of Lightning Motorcycles saying that the “Flying Banana Mk. II” just put down a 205.238 mph pass at the Southern California Timing Associations’ Speed Week at Bonneville. This pass makes Lightning the first electric motorcycle manufacturer/competitor ever to break the 200 mph mark, whether it be on the tarmac or at the salt flats. If verified during tomorrow’s second pass, the speed would shatter the outright land speed record of 176.434mph, which was set by Riches Nelson and his fully-streamlined Airtech Lightning Bolt electric motorcycle.