The annual Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials has grown from a small event to an international affair. Here’s Eric Manning on his cool-looking 50cc semi-streamliner.
Imagine a place so vast and void of population where people could go and do the unthinkable. Where there are no speed limits and for one week out of the year there are no cars allowed.only motorcycles. A place where you can let it all hang out and the only ticket you might get is for bragging rights. That place is the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The event is the Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials.
Now in its fifth season, the event has grown from a small group of go-fast junkies to an international event. Guys like Richard Assen from New Zealand, giving our own John Noonan a run for his money with a respectable 250 mph pass. Ruedi Steck of Swiss Performance ran just over 170 mph on his modified Feuling W3, while Greg Watters from Australia rode his turbocharged 750 two consecutive passes over 220 mph!
Max Lambky returned to the Bub Meet with a sidecar attached to his twin-engine Vincent streamliner. Rider Don Angel tripped the lights in his vintage creation at nearly 167 mph, giving John Renwick a run for his money for top streamliner sidecar honors. Hartmut Weidelich shares driver duties with Don, and reportedly had the ride of his life, running the
Lambky Liner to an estimated 275 mph before the blower spindle let go. He coasted through the lights at a disappointing 106 mph, but for a fleeting moment had a legitimate shot at top time of the meet.
The Auburn Express, a Harley-Davidson drag bike/salt racer entry ran 127 mph, while Jon Minonno took home the bragging rights for Top American V-Twin with a 220.969 mph average through the lights. California Fritz took Top Antique Motorcycle honors with his Shovelhead streamliner running a click over 226 mph. The pint-sized Buddfab streamliner once again took on all comers in the Top MPH per CC Ratio competition with an impressive 147.010 mph run with their 50cc entry.
John Noonan took top honors in both the Faired and Unfaired Sit On Motorcycle categories, but was nearly ejected from his bike in the process. His leather race suit ripped open, peeling his left arm from the handlebar in the process. His cell phone took flight and even the largest network in the industry
could do little but watch as it cart wheeled across the salt. The phone was later recovered and appeared to be in working order.
Others weren’t so lucky. Tim Horton, riding an early model Buell, made several runs over 180 mph before falling victim to a broken swingarm. The rear tire locked and Tim was thrown from his machine, breaking his arm in the fall. Cliff Gullett, driving Jack Costella’s Nebulous Theorem VII, had a horrific accident while traveling over 237 mph on a record return run. Witnesses reported the sleek streamliner going sideways after exiting the measured mile, tumbling violently, and leaving a trail of debris for nearly a quarter-of-a-mile.
Tragically, Cliff left us that afternoon and the meet was closed for the remainder of the day. The following morning a moment of silence was observed in Cliff’s honor before the speed trials resumed. It should be noted that Cliff’s final two passes may put his name in the record books yet again, giving him and Jack Costella top honors in the 500cc streamliner wars (500 AF S) once ratification is completed by the FIM.
One person in particular who had a lot to be happy about was Leslie Porterfield, who returned this season after taking salt samples of her own last year on her turbocharged Hayabusa. Leslie ran her CBR 1000RR against 71-year-old salt veteran, “Rosey”, Roosevelt Lackey, both making passes over 193 mph, with Leslie getting the nod by a manicured whisker. She also ran a personal best on the same Hayabusa that parted company with her a year ago, posting a whopping 234.197 mph!
I had a chance to hang out with Racin’ Jason McVicar for a few minutes and was impressed to see him back in the saddle after getting off at Speed Week only two weeks prior at 240 mph. He had on new leathers with full armor and was sporting a
slight limp. Noonan showed me photos of Jason’s shins and forearms from his tattered cell phone; beef jerky from elbow to wrists, shins to kneecaps. The crazy thing is it wasn’t from salt abrasion. John told me it was friction burns. Ouch! Jason made a 245 mph pass. I guess he’s rehabilitated.
One thing I’ve learned about this unique place is that you never know what will turn up on the salt. Roger Goldammer recently was awarded World Champion of Custom Bike Building status and took his awesome creation, Goldmember, to the Bub event to see what it would do. This thing reeks of coolness. A blown 965cc intercooled single Harley-based powerplant running nitrous. Whoa… It was just too damned pretty to run on the salt, and yet Roger put the hammer down, beating most of the V-Twins with his single cylinder beauty.
Then there was a live bat ducking for cover under the pop-ups in the pits. Close by I spotted three salt racers hovering in mid-air on broomsticks. I recognized their leader who looked a lot like Leslie Porterfield. Maybe there’s more to her story than she’s letting on. Be sure to check out the photo section for verification.
The Ack Attack and Bub machines are staged and ready. The Top One Ack Attack posted the fastest run of the meet at over 315 mph through the lights.
As for the “Big 3” having another go at the ultimate record, thus far it hasn’t happened. Sam Wheeler made a single pass upwards of 279 mph before apparently burning a piston. Chris Carr waited around as long as he could for conditions to change to his liking. It never happened and Friday morning he packed it in and hopped a plane for Indianapolis for the next round of the AMA Pro Flat Track series.
The Ack Attack was all new from the ground up after crashing hard in 2007. With any new vehicle this complex, we had our share of gremlins to overcome. We secured top time of the meet with a shakedown run of 285 mph. By Sunday we turned it up a notch running 315 mph through the lights with a 318 exit speed. Luckily, we get one more shot at the Top One Shootout Sept 22-26th. But that’s another story altogether…
Enjoy the ride…