By Erin Sills
Landspeed motorcycle racing returned to the famed Bonneville Salt Flats today, releasing two years of pent-up demand for top speed performance for hundreds of athletes who arrived from across the globe to race the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials – the AMA Land Speed Grand Championship. Following the event's cancellation in 2015, riders and fans alike were eager to see what their machines could do, competing against history for top speed in their particular size and style of bike.
I spoke with Denis Manning, one of the original organizers of motorcycle-only events on the salt, who was one of many individuals who dedicated weeks to preparing the 5-mile and 7-mile courses for racing.
"The Salt Flats have never been perfect, and it's all in how you prepare the surface for racing," Manning said. "It takes time and patience, but we're very comfortable with what we're able to provide our teams this year."
Erin Sills blasts across the salt on her machine. Photo: Hunter Sills Racing
And as racers, we weren't disappointed. My Hunter Sills Racing team began the meet with me riding our BMW S1000 RR to a record-qualifying speed of 205.9 mph and promptly backing it up with a 209.7 mph average mile to put the first 2016 BMST record in the books. We are beyond pleased with the bike's initial performance and can't wait to see what the week holds!
Al Lamb, world's fastest sit-on motorcycle rider at 265 mph, also has big goals for the week. Lamb and his team set their top-speed record in 2012 and have returned with the goal of owning two motorcycle records over 260 mph.
Al Lamb, world's fastest sit-on motorcycle rider at 265 mph, stands next to his machine with Erin Sills. The #LiveLikeAndy graphics on his machine are in memory of Sills' late husband. Photo: Hunter Sills Racing
"We are very pleased with the day given this is our first run on the salt in over 3 years," Lamb said. "We did well, achieving 237 mph in our first pass on the salt but ran into traction control issues, which we've since settled. We will make an early pass in the morning, and learn from there."