By Erin Sills
Land speed racing is a sport of thousandths, where records are measured to three places right of the decimal point. Any racer will be able to cite an accomplishment (or goal) with that level of precision. That also means records are set and broken by fractions of a mile-per-hour. Land speed racers aren't just beating the person next to them on the salt that day, they are beating the fastest person in history on their size and style of motorcycle.
For my Hunter Sills racing team, today was a reminder of the challenge of racing against history. Having set the production record quickly yesterday (and emphatically, by almost 8 mph), we spent the day trying to set the bar even higher. We were fortunate to be able to make five passes during the day, but continued to post speeds ranging from 205.970 mph to 207.774 mph – not enough to qualify against the 207.970 mph record we set the day before. Despite changing gearing three times and fine-tuning the suspension just as often, it wasn't in the cards for us to bump up our production record today.
Erin Okenek and Mike Garcia both qualified against 1350cc FIM records with 216 mph (1350cc modified, gas class) and 240 mph (1350cc modified, blown/fuel class).
Petra Bier raced a BMW 800 sidecar and made it into impound with a new national record at almost 100 mph.
Our friends and fellow racers, Erin Okenek and Mike Garcia, had better fortune, both qualifying against 1350cc FIM records with 216 mph (1350cc modified, gas class) and 240 mph (1350cc modified, blown/fuel class), respectively. They were each able to back up the qualifications and, pending ratification, now hold new world records.
Since I am an off-road motorcycle coach with the BMW RawHyde Adventure Motorcycle training school, you might imagine my delight in seeing a BMW F800 GS show up to race Bonneville this week. Even more fun, it's packing a sidecar and racing for an AMA sidecar record. Ridden by Petra Bier, the BMW 800 sidecar made it into impound with a new national record at almost 100 mph. Now, I wonder how it would do with knobby dirt tires.