Salt Addiction: Shane San Miguel

February 23, 2012
Rocky Robinson
Rocky Robinson
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

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.

Like we said  you cant ride your entire life unless you start out as a baby. Shane rode with his dad while still in diapers!
Shane San Miguel, pictured above in
diapers, got an early start on two wheels
and has been pushing the limits ever since.

Like the old adage, “You can’t drink all day unless you start first thing in the morning,” Shane San Miguel has been riding motorcycles his whole life – literally since he was a baby.

“I have a picture that my mom took of me on my dad’s DT175 Yamaha Enduro somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when I was still in diapers,” he recalls. “I would sit on the gas tank and hold onto the handlebars.”

“The first time I remember riding my dad’s motorcycle, he was stationed at McClellan AFB. He took me to a field by our house; I was maybe three or four years old. I remember the butterflies in my stomach and the giddy thrill it gave me. When I was eight, I would ride on the back of my cousin’s Sears mini bike and chase cows on their farm in Texas. We’d ride for hours until we ran out of gas. At 13 I mowed lawns for $5 bucks a piece and saved up $200 dollars and bought a 1976 Suzuki DS100, my first real dirt bike.”

“At 16, I got a summer job cutting firewood and saved enough to buy a Suzuki GT-380J, a two-stroke Triple. Talk about fast… That’s when I started drag racing. That old 380 humbled many a 600cc sport bike. Since I had to earn the money to buy my bikes, I didn’t always have the current technology. Using my dad’s tools, I would take my bike apart and look for ways to make it faster. Instead of buying fancy lightweight parts, I would remove parts to make the bike lighter. Strip the mirrors, ditch the tool bag, cut the ends off the handlebars – everything I could think of to make it faster.”

Shane grew up racing at Sacramento Raceway. His best time at his home track is 9.50 seconds at 150 mph on his 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa. He also occasionally races a Ford Pinto with a V8 engine that he built himself. Shane’s quick to point out that he’ll race anything on the drag strip. “I would drag race a horse if they’d let me.” I’d like to see that one posted on his Facebook page…

Shane tucked in and boogying on a 198 mph pass at El Mirage in Southern CA.
Shane tucked in and boogying on a 198 mph pass at El Mirage in Southern CA.
Take a close look at the speedometer and the tach. At redline at 212 mph on the dirt.

On the work side of things, Shane’s an engineering manager for Intel Corporation, the largest micro-processor manufacturer in the world. He’s worked in the electronics field for almost 20 years and holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electronics Engineering.

“My favorite part is figuring out the answer to complicated problems. It’s quite a thrill to work with many of the smartest people in the industry and call them my peers. Many times I’ve used the debug skills learned at Intel to solve problems with my race cars and motorcycles. I’ve used my electronics background to design many gadgets and circuits for my racing such as nitrous controllers, oxygen sensor circuits, intercooler pump systems and ignition systems.”

I asked Shane how he got involved with land speed racing: “One day I was at a family function talking to my wife’s grandpa about how I wanted to go 200 mph. He said, ‘If you want to go that fast, you have to go to Bonneville.’ Vic gave me an SCTA rule book which showed that the world’s fastest production bike – something you could walk into a dealership and buy – was the Suzuki Hayabusa, and that the record was around 201 mph. I saved my money for three years fixing people’s bikes at night while working at Intel during the day and driving my old beat up car. When I paid cash for that first Busa, I knew I’d found my bike. You can be on a 600 and have an awesome bike, but if you’re at a stop light and a 750 pulls up, what then? If you’re on a 750 and a big bad GSXR-1000 pulls up, you’re toast. No matter what you’re on, if a Busa rolls up, it’s over.”

I noted that in addition to running at Bonneville, he was also a regular at El Mirage. I asked him to compare the two venues: “I spent my rookie year on my 2006 Hayabusa at El Mirage learning the ropes and licensing up. I ran later that year at Bonneville Speed Week posting a top speed of 191 mph. The surfaces couldn’t be more different. The Mojave dirt at El Mirage is hard packed and covered in dust and surface cracks. It’s also shorter, 1.3 miles with a 5/8 mile shutdown area, whereas Bonneville has a three-mile course, and that’s the Short Course.

Shane from a different angle on the same 198 mph pass at El Mirage on his street bike   racer. He also rides this bike to work…
Shane from a different angle on the same 198 mph pass at El Mirage. Shane also rides this LSR bike to work…

A minimum qualifying run of 175 mph gets you onto the Long Course which is five miles in length.

“That’s where the big boys play. El Mirage is all about launching the bike as hard as possible while maintaining traction on the dirt and avoiding soft, sandy areas that the cars tear up. At Bonneville my bike takes two miles to get to 200 and then I have three miles of timed speed sections to claw for every RPM to make top speed. At El Mirage your speed is the timed average of a 132-foot speed trap at the end of the track. At Bonneville, your speed is the average speed over an entire mile! To get into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club you can’t just go 200, you have to break an existing record that’s already over 200 mph, so you have to beat somebody else that’s already set the bar really high.”

Shane made the cut in 2008, earning his red hat by beating the existing production 1350cc land speed record of 201 mph and was only the second person to ever do so on a production bike. Shane acknowledges Scott Horner of Heads Up Performance for assisting him in his 206-mph record run.

Shane plans to run the production class for another year before switching to either nitrous or running a turbo in hopes of joining the ranks of a select few who’ve ran 250 mph on two wheels. I’d tip my hat to him, but blue hats are hard to come by and he just might take mine…

Enjoy the ride…