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Salt Addiction Women of the Salt

Friday, November 21, 2008
Debbie streaks “naked” across the Maxton strip at record speed.
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 hard at work on her Busa. This gal does it all!
Debbie hard at work on her Busa. This gal does it all!
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.

Laura Klock en route to another record run.
Laura Klock's H-D cruiser is recognized as the "World's Fastest Bagger."
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.
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.

Leslie Attacks the salt on her production CBR1000.
Leslie Porterfield attacks the salt on her production CBR1000.
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.

“I did it!” Karlee Klock  14  celebrates her first record.
“I did it!” Karlee Klock, 14, celebrates her first record.
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…


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Recent Salt Addiction Features
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jermaine -faster bike  March 1, 2009 06:26 AM
what do i need to do to make my bike faster
Erin Hunter -Rocky, you (of all people?) forgot the streamliner?  February 27, 2009 11:43 AM
Hi Rocky, Thank you for your great article on Women on The Salt. As you know, I've been personally trying to bring more women to the sport by sponsoring the Sisters Of The Salt Award for three years running. The award is presented to a woman and to the person in her life that provides her the courage and encouragement to pursuit life's adventures. I have given this award to Belen Wagner (2006), Erika Cobb (2007), and this year Leslie Porterfield. As a road rider myself, I understand the focus on sit-on bikes. But I'm surprised you missed the streamliner! Thanks to Jack Costella's amazing mind and skills, I had the privilege of being the first women ever to set a World Record in a streamliner motorcycle (142.864mph) in the 100cc SAG class (with an 80cc motor) in September of last year. Jack deserves a shout-out for his efforts in supporting me in this pursuit. All the best, and keep up the great writing! But please don't forget the riders you can't see inside ;) Erin Hunter ehunter@comscore.com
Scott Guthrie - The Sultan of Speed -Fastest women on streetbikes  November 26, 2008 07:54 AM
WORLD'S FASTEST WOMAN (OPEN-WHEEL MOTORCYCLE) 1)....Marcia Holley.....................1978...201.xxx........Bonneville.......AMA 2)....Susan Robertson..........08/2006...209.494.........Bonneville......SCTA 3)....Trillium Muir................05/2007...210.137..........Maxton..........ECTA 4)....Debbie Dross...............05/2007...212.730.........Maxton...........ECTA 5)....Trillium Muir................05/2007...218.340...........Maxton..........ECTA ......................................... 09/2007...222.222..........Maxton..........ECTA 6)....Leslie Porterfield..........09/2008...233.184...........Bonneville.....AMA 7)....Trillium Muir................10/2008...239.361...........Maxton..........ECTA Although it took about 28 years for the title of the World's Fastest Woman on an open wheel motorcycle to change, the battle has now heated up to white hot ! Marcia Holley, one of the first true women LSR stars - and the first on cycles - laid down a (for the time) incredible pass of over 200 MPH at Bonneville in 1978 on Jack Dolan’s full-race double-engine Kawasaki. Bonneville then waited slowly until Susan Robertson banged out a 209 MPH on a modified streetbike in 2006. Less than a year later, the battle ramped up again, and moved to the east. One 4-hour period under the East Coast Timing Association saw the record change hands three times. Running at an abandoned WWII air base in lonely Maxton, NC, Trillium Muir opened with an astonishing 210.137 MPH. Debbie Dross responded 12 minutes later, setting the new record at 212.730 MPH. It was Dross’s first ever pass over 200 MPH. Muir, looking for a better tune up, took only 4 hours to find the correct set-up at 218.340 MPH. Both Muir and Dross were, like Robertson, on modified Hayabusa street bikes. Trillium closed the 2007 year in the lead with a late-season pass of 222.222 MPH At the BUB / AMA Bonneville, Leslie Porterfield opened the 2008 battle with a big effort of 233.184 MPH, Putting almost 10 MPH on Trillium’s record of the year before, riding a modified Suzuki Hayabusa. Not to be denied holding the record in the season-ending book, Muir came back to Maxton a month later and slammed down a fantastic run of 239.361 MPH, taking the championship back to Canada for the second year in a row. While it took 28 years for the record to advance from Holley’s 1978 mark of 201 MPH to Robertson’s 209 MPH in 2006, it took only the next two years to raise the bar to Muir’s 239 MPH. Which woman will be the first to break 250 MPH on a street bike?
Rocky Robinson -Lots of Talk Generated From This Article at Landracing.com  November 25, 2008 09:29 PM
Wow, the subject of women racers has sparked a huge controversy which resulted in a wonderful gathering of posts from the land speed racing community. Great to see so much interest in a topic. Follow the link to see what I mean... http://www.landracing.com/forum/index.php/topic,5038.msg70239.html#msg70239 Just remember, you saw it first here at MotorcycleUSA.com!
jimbolaya -RC jones' comment on my comment  November 25, 2008 06:39 PM
Boy, that was sure a thorough, well thought out, exhaustive analysis. Thanks for the deep, provocative insight.
RC Jones -jimbolaya - money vs. gender November 24, 2008 09:20 AM  November 24, 2008 08:26 PM
Your 2c is not worth 2c. My 2c.
jimbolaya -money vs. gender  November 24, 2008 09:20 AM
Females are the largest deomgraphic, & steadily increasing, for disposable income. Get ready for a steady methodical increase in marketing programs aimed specifically at the female gender demographic for this single reason. Look carefully at every picture, graphic image, & text, whose aim is to market & sell virtually anything. You will see that it is aimed at the female gender demographic. Females are front center, highlighted w/ brighter lighting, etc. Men, when present (far more seldom than women, count the pictures), are in the background. Why? Because, if females are steadily growing in the control of dollars available to sell, it is the #1 aim of marketeers & sellers to target this single specific demographic. To fail in the above endeavor is to fail in the goal of increasing sales revenues, by simple mathemetic formula. As sure as the sun rises in the east & sets in the west, as certain as gravity. For example, take a look at the '09 Suzuki Gladius, the latest Monster 696, Suzuki M90 cruisers. Notice how loudly the manufacturer's announce the low seat heights tailored for women, etc, etc, etc, etc. This is why we read articles such as above. For no other reason. This article is to increase the likelihood of women spending their disposable income on motorcyle goods & services. These women are going to either spend their disposable earnings on some other goods &/or services &/or motorcycle goods & services. Why not help the sport? That's not bad for men either, except that the sport will be more tailored to women over time. Men: get used to it. If it was the opposite (men growing in deomographic for disposable income), good websites such as this one would not post this article for any reason. My 2c.
Seldom Seen Slim (Jon Wennerberg) -Land Speed women  November 24, 2008 08:17 AM
Hunh? Riding with one hand on the bars, one in the fairing? I guess Bub's doesn't require two hands on the bars at all times. Nice article, though, Rocky. Nancy and I don't know Leslie P. at all, but Debbie is half of the team that crews our bikes on the Salt -- so we're familiar with her progress through the ranks from newbie -- to owning a 2 Club hat at Maxton. Nancy (my wife) rode to a best speed of 187++ at World of Speed -- and hopes to join the group of ladies you're writing about as soon as possible. Thanks again for keeping the flame lit about land speed racing on this site. Oh, yeah -- and congratulations on the new 2-wheel record (pending FIM certification, of course).
Wm. T. (SPARKY) Smith -Ladies & LSR  November 24, 2008 06:55 AM
From the increasing posts on Landracing.com, the people in the pits and the rider-drivers at the start line at the various meets; it is becoming apparent that fun, challenges and rewards of Salt Fever is not limted to just old white guys, whether its cars or BIKES!!!