200mph at Loring Air Force Base
I made the 22 hour trip to Loring Air Force Base in Northeast Maine this past week/end for the Loring Timing Association’s season-opening event. This former home to B-52 bombers has a massive runway of almost 2.5 miles, so it’s the perfect place to really “stretch the legs” of any motorized vehicle. At LTA events they time both the 1 mile and 1.5 mile, but I would be focusing on the 1 mile. It would be my first attempt at land speed racing and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Ultimately, I just wanted to have a safe and fun weekend and see if I could get into the 200 MPH Club.
I was lucky enough to have Bryan Snyder of Quantum Motorsports (who builds my engines) accompany me for the first 9 hour leg of the trip to New Jersey. This is where we met up with Ralphie Navarro to continue the long trek to Maine. If you know either of these two, well then you know it was one hell of a trip, full of plenty of laughter! But after all, this is what racing is all about, good times with good friends.
On to the event, Friday was tech day and licensing day for all the rookies. Each rookie must make licensing passes of 125mph, 150mph, and 175mph while demonstrating control of their vehicles. We won’t derail the story with details of my licensing attempts, but I’m very thankful for a great and understanding LTA staff!
With my rookie sticker signed off on it was now time to go full throttle and see what this was all about. After talking with Bryan we decided to make a shake down pass on motor so that I could get used to the speed and course. With gearing already in place for nitrous passes I managed to pull off a 192mph pass on motor, as the bike couldn’t pull the gearing out of 5th gear. The speed in itself didn’t bother me, but the wind did cause some slight discomfort as the bike was pushed right to left on the runway and it felt like it was leaning over.
The next pass we put a conservative nitrous tune-up in 5th and 6th gear that we thought would achieve 200mph, but as I shifted into 4th the bike started to lean, 5th gear (with some nitrous) seemed to make it worse and shortly after clicking into 6th gear I decided I had reached my comfort zone. So, the aborted run resulted in a 194mph pass. I came back and assessed the situation and took some advice from some of the veteran land speed guys….. So off to the starting line I went again, chasing that magical 200mph time slip. Unfortunately the second nitrous attempt resulted in the same ‘feeling’ of the bike rolling over at high speeds and I rolled out of the throttle. Only this time I corrected the bike and got back in the throttle to the tune of a 199mph time slip. It was getting close to the end of the day, so I decided to call it a day and try to figure out the issue I kept experiencing. Since this was my first time land speed racing I really wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing from the wind/bike was “normal” or not.
When Saturday morning came I was prepared to once again tackle the air strip and after talking with plenty of people and analyzing my riding I was ready to go. Through the gears I shifted and behind the wind screen I tucked, as I raced down the runway looking for 200mph… But once again the wind/speed/bike won and I rolled out of the throttle as the bike rolled over and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ll admit I was pretty dejected at this point and contemplated just calling it a weekend. I simply wasn’t comfortable with the way the bike was acting and since I had just taken one of my drag racing bikes and made some changes to go LSR racing I thought my setup just wasn’t adequate. Fortunately veteran racer Don Hass (who has quite the accolades) talked with me about the issues I was having and offered some advice on fixing it. Don was very confident that if I made the changes I would not only go straight but also pretty much eliminate the effects of the wind.
I weighed my options, took his advice and decided to give it one last attempt. This time when I clicked into 4th gear the bike stayed completely vertical and when I hit 5th gear I was still perfectly 90 degrees with the ground, and as I clicked it into 6th gear I started to smile….. Although I had only planned on running all out to the mile, I knew my conservative nitrous tune-up would be ok on this pass so I pressed on to the 1.5 mile timers as the bike continued to track straight and true. When I picked up my time slip this time I was amazed to see a 212mph pass to the mile and 222mph in the mile and a half. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Not only was this my fastest pass of the weekend, but it was also my most comfortable. When I got back to the pits my smile was hard to contain and everyone else was just as excited as I was.
With my new found confidence, we decided to attack the mile with a more aggressive nitrous tune-up and back in line we went. I knew I was on a good pass as I clicked it into 6th gear with plenty of room before the 1 mile timers and when the shift light came on in 6th as I neared the finish it confirmed my thoughts. The time slip said a whopping 225mph in the standing mile! It’s a hard feeling to describe the speed, especially as a drag racer, because they are two totally different feelings… but knowing that I had just went 225mph was pretty damn cool. Back at the trailer we made a few more minor changes and headed back for another pass. This time I clicked through the timing traps at 227mph with another smooth pass. After getting this time slip I was honestly very happy with the performance of the bike and how the weekend was shaping up. So, I decided to park the bike and enjoy the rest of the weekend with my friends. Was I scared of the speed? NOPE! Was there more left in the bike? We think so…. But, there are some changes I would like to make if I attend another event and I had accomplished everything I wanted to for the weekend.
I ran in the MPS/F-3000/4 class all weekend and moved that record from 155.436 all the way up to 227.358. I became a member of the Loring Timing Association 200mph club. I had a lot of fun with good friends and made new ones alone the way. It was all I could ask for and well worth two days of driving each way. Big thank you to Ralphie & Bryan for all they did throughout the weekend, to Tim & Joe and the entire LTA Staff for welcoming me with open arms and making it a great first experience. Also, to all of the experienced racers who offered advice, congratulations, and laughs! (Special Thanks to Hass-Serafini Racing and their crew and to Greg & Tracy Neal).
Last and certainly not least, I’d like to thank my awesome sponsors who helped make it possible to build a badass motorcycle which not only does its job on the drag strip, but also doubles as a decent land speed ride!
Quantum Motorsports, WorldWide Bearings, Brock’s Performance, McIntosh Machine & Fabrication, Schnitz Racing, Montgomery Motorsports, Rob Bush Motorsports, Alisyn Lubricants, BST-Blackstone Tek, Vanson Leathers, The FBR Shop, Web-Cams, Knight Communications Inc., Energy Coil, Tiger Racing, Heads Up Performance, Dragbike.com, and Wossner Pistons & Rods.