Salt Addiction The Lamberd Brothers

July 2, 2008
Rocky Robinson
Rocky Robinson
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Having raced everything from Flat Track to Trials, Rocky Robinson now pilots streamliners at the Bonneville Salt Flats and currently holds the ultimate land speed record at 376 mph aboard the Ack Attack streamliner.

The Lamberd Brothers: Gary  L   Robin  R
The Lamberd Brothers made quite an impact on the Bonneville scene when they showed up with their 500cc stand-up scooters capable of reaching 100mph.

You see a lot of unusual things at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I’ve been a regular there since the late 90’s, and have witnessed my share of attractions. I’ve been fortunate to rub elbows with Craig Breedlove and crew during a “private time” test series, and even ran faster than his jet-powered Spirit of America for the first couple of days.

I was there when the set for The World’s Fastest Indian was erected. Between test runs I was invited to have a look around. I’ve got to tell you, the finished project seemed bigger than life, but the tiny set left a lot to the imagination. My hat’s off to Roger Donaldson and his crew for such a magnificent job.

On another trip, we witnessed a commercial for a Bavarian auto maker being filmed, complete with professional driver and film crew. The exotic sports car had a carbon fiber boom attached to the front with an expensive camera mounted at the end. The driver pitched the tiny car around the salt full throttle, broad sliding on the flat, abrasive surface.

A brave cameraman rode in the back seat sitting on the opposite side so as not to upset the balance of the car. He held what looked like a videogame in his hand which operated the high tech camera attached to the boom. It was a James Bond experience if ever there was one.

I’ve seen jet fighters do low fly-bys just off the deck then point skyward and disappear with a thunderous roar, reminding us horsepower is a relative thing, and someone somewhere will always have more.

Mad Max a.k.a. Willie Cooper cruises the salt.
Mad Max a.k.a. Willie Cooper cruises the salt.

And I’ve seen the Lamberd brothers (Gary and Robin) show up on the salt flats like a fish out of water, with a machine you’d swear was taken from the 1980 action thriller Mad Max. The Lamberds, along with close friend Willie Cooper, built a stand up scooter that utilizes a Honda CR 500 engine, ATV wheels forward and aft, and aircraft tires. Gary has had the eclectic two-wheeler over 103 mph on the salt and 90 on the drag strip in the quarter mile!

Gary shared his feelings with me about his first run down the salt: “My first pass was a little nerve racking. Not only was I a virgin to the salt flats, but I was also on something totally different than anything there. Standing with no seat was not the conventional way of thinking at Bonneville. Leaving the starting line with journalists and cameras in tow put added pressure on me to get it right. As I feathered the clutch on the high-geared, seatless two wheeler, a feeling of awe came over me that I cannot describe. This was the same stretch ran by names bigger than life itself, and I was now a part of it all.”

Perhaps this is old news to MotorcycleUSA regulars who’ve readĀ theĀ comprehensive article on this very machine. But – that’s no longer where the story ends…

Go Go Gadget Racer!
The Extreme Scooter was just the beginning for the Lamberds.Their new project is a GSX-R750-powered semi-streamlined salt racer called Vision-One.

In 2007, while returning to my pit after registration, I came across the delirious duo’s latest creation, Vision-One. This Inspector Gadget meets Fabio Taglioni (Ducati’s chief designer and engineer) semi-streamlined salt racer was a huge advancement toward their quest to one day rule the world as “Fastest Motorcycle,” a title I once held, if only for a couple of days.

This would not be the actual title contender, but a “work in progress” from which to learn many things for their eventual FIM assault in 2009. Vision-Two, an honest to goodness, take-no-prisoners streamliner, is in the early build stages as we speak. Unlike its predecessors, there will be no ribbing or making fun by this contributor, as I know first hand that the Lamberds are serious about this effort and I wish them all the best.

To understand what it takes to get there, Vision-One is a test-bed for the team to try theories on aerodynamics, mechanics, power delivery and of course valuable seat time. It is powered by a rear-mounted GSX-R750 water-cooled engine. Whether they choose to drive the machine themselves, or bring on a more experienced driver from an existing team, (there are only three active riders who have driven above 300 mph – only six in the history of the sport) the learning curve will be a huge under-taking.

Vision-One project begins.
The Vision-One in its infant stages. It uses joysticks for controls vs. conventional handlebars.

I was allowed to climb into the cockpit of Vision-One for a firsthand view. The controls are joysticks mounted on either side, similar in theory to Big Red. Seating position is comfortable and the cockpit roomy-almost too roomy in my opinion. Had the cockpit been made more compact, the aero package would be more efficient and there would be less weight due to less mass. I will say it felt safe and visibility was excellent. Robin’s fabrication skills are impeccable; overall it is a great first effort. And, the thing looks like it would be a blast to drive…

It’s also a fair statement to say they may experience their share of high speed crashes along the way. Motorcycle streamliners are difficult to drive, especially early on when things aren’t exactly how they should be. The Top One Ack Attack has been down at speed twice, and has also been the World Land Speed Record holder, AMA National Record holder, and BNI Record holder. Sam Wheeler, having recorded the fastest run ever on two wheels, crashed at the end of his attempt due to a tire failure and was unable to make the mandatory return run to enter into the record books. Big Red (BUB # 7) has been down numerous times, as has Dave Campos in the Easyriders streamliner.

Early test run with training wheels intact.
An early test run with training wheels intact. Crashing and testing go hand-in-hand, but in the beginning the extra set of wheels help prevent binning all that hard work right out of the gate.

It’s only those with the courage to get back up and learn from their mistakes that will end up on top. Even then, lady luck plays a key role in their success. I like the Lamberd’s approach and their open-mindedness to create and think outside the carbon and titanium wind tunnel tested box.

Robin is chief designer and fabricator of the team. Gary lends a hand, offers suggestions, and so far, is the faster rider of the two (mainly due to his smaller stature). Willie Cooper also helps with the fabricating chores and helps in the pits when they are on the salt. Like most land speed racing efforts, the brothers hold full time jobs – Gary is a truck driver, Robin a superintendent in construction. Both are intelligent, fun-loving guys that refuse to grow up.

Keep an eye out for them this year at the Bub Speed Trials as they continue their quest. Vision-One, with their latest updates, will be put through the paces and valuable feedback will be weaned from the pre-streamliner test bed. When they re-turn in 2009 to officially throw their hat in the ring with the Big Dogs, let them know you’re rooting for them to succeed. It’s a long, hard road paved with salt, sweat and determination. And all that matters is who gets to the other end the fastest…

Enjoy the ride.

-Rocky

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