Debbie Dross, a member of the illustrious 200-mph club, streaks “naked” across the Maxton strip at record speed.
In land speed racing, especially on two-wheeled open bikes, the times are a changing. The thought that the best “man for the job” might be a woman is truer today than ever. This is not to take away from the great accomplishments of John Noonan, Jason McVicar, Richard Assen, and a few other open-wheeled gurus. These guys are incredible and have earned their status as the ones to beat.
Women also play an important role in land speed racing. Take Debbie Dross, a Jersey girl who rides a nitrous-charged Hayabusa in many of the ECTA events. She holds numerous records aboard various machines. She recently joined the elite Maxton 200 MPH Club in May of 2008 with a 202.351 pass. Debbie enjoys running “naked,” though the true meaning of the term means running without a front fairing, the backside of her black and white Alpinestar leathers is all most of her competition will be seeing.
Debbie built her own machine. She installed nitrous, ran the wiring, and does her own tuning. She helped her hubby Todd set three records of his own on “the bike that Deb built.” They visited Bonneville for the first time this year and made licensing runs on a borrowed machine. They were welcomed into the salt community with open arms and vow to return ready to hunt bear…
Team Klock Werks is known for making custom V-Twin motorcycles, but is more recently credited with producing a stable of go-fast female racers. Laura is the throttle-happy mom, setting a new record of 153.9 mph this year on her custom H-D cruiser. Her machine is touted as the “World’s Fastest Bagger,” reigning since 2006 when she got the fever and her first world record. Daughters Erika,18, and Karlee,14, both had impressive runs of their own, posting new records of 132 mph and 110 mph respectively.
This mother/daughter/daughter trio was the first in history to hold Bonneville National Land Speed Records in the same year. Making it even more impressive is the fact that Karlee just received her driver’s license in her home state of South Dakota. The girls from Klock Racing prove that the fairer sex—regardless of age, can run with the best and sometimes lead the way.
And then there’s Leslie Porterfield. Leslie’s background includes stints in automotive racing, SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), road racing, she’s pre-ridden the Baja 1000, and this year took a pass down the strip on a Pro Stock drag bike. She was an Umbrella Girl for Colin Edwards at the Indianapolis Moto GP, and she’s also one of the fastest females to straddle a bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Team Klock Werks (left to right) Laura, Erika, and Karlee. The Klock girls all set National Land Speed Records in 2008.
And let’s not forget the time we caught her riding her broom in the pits…remember? (Salt Addiction Bub Speed Trials-Sept.) Leslie first caught my attention in 2007. It was her first year on the salt. Conditions were poor to say the least. I went down in the Ack Attack streamliner that year at over 300 mph. Leslie also went down, only she wasn’t enclosed in a steel roll cage with a carbon shell to hide behind.
“It was my first time on the salt on a newly-built bike (a turbo-charged Suzuki Hayabusa). Upon acceleration I got into a tank-slapper,” she says. “It continued to get worse, no matter what I did to try and straighten it out.” Leslie went down hard, receiving a concussion and a brief loss of consciousness. She was transported by helicopter to Salt Lake City where she underwent X-rays. The extent of her injuries included seven broken ribs and a punctured lung. Unable to fly, she and her banged up Hayabusa limped home together by truck and trailer. The following Tuesday she was back at work, running her motorcycle dealership, High Five Cycles.
It almost came too easy. On a previous run she went 196 mph. Many folks only dream of reaching the 200 mark and Leslie was almost there after only a few runs on her new machine. Her accident was chalked up to experience. She would return in 2008 a wiser, more polished racer.
At the 2008 Bub Speed Trials, two machines were unloaded onto the salt. “The 2008 CBR1000 that I rode was a last minute project. We borrowed that bike from Honda to run in the production class.” How does one just “get” a motorcycle from Honda, I asked. “Honda loaned us a magazine test bike. Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda was behind getting it for me to flog on the salt.” And “flog it” she did…
“We made little changes all week trying to squeak out a few extra miles per hour. I was covered in duct tape for less drag.” Roosevelt Lackey, a 71-year-old salt veteran, was Leslie’s main competition on the CBR. “Rosey” competed aboard an MV Augusta matching Leslie’s speeds run after run. Both topped 193 mph, but Leslie got the nod after a spirited pass throwing everything at it she could think of. Bound in duct tape, her left hand tucked inside the fairing for less drag, she made her single best pass on the red racer posting a 193.261 mph average through the kilo, beating Rosey for top honors in the 1000cc production class by a fraction.
Her revamped turbo Hayabusa was a little more complex. Scott Horner of Heads Up Performance and Rhys Griffiths from Apex Speed Technologies helped with getting it dialed in. This was the same machine that pitched her off at 100 mph last year. She ran at El Mirage throughout the season sorting things out before returning to the “great white dyno.” With a better understanding of the salt’s inconsistencies and a new found respect for the powerful Hayabusa engine, Leslie didn’t show any signs of weakness, running strong from the start.
“The 234 run is the fastest my bike has ever been.” Her qualifying run was late in the day. They made a quick turnaround and on her return run the overheated motor let go in a big way. “I threw a rod through the cases at full speed. Normally I would be upset about the damage, but it was my top speed ever and I set a world record at 232 mph!”
Girls just want to have fun…