Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alan Thoresen: Black Thunder at Bonneville

Alan Thoresen’s 50th birthday was a wakeup call. He was running out of time for all the adventures he wanted to experience. One of those adventures was to follow in the footsteps of a famous New Zealand racer named Burt Monro, and race on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Monro is an inspiration to many racers, but for New Zealander’s, it is a special honor to step upon the salt where Monro rode the World’s Fastest Indian.

Thoresen returned to drag racing in preparation for Bonneville, and he had a very successful first season. Thoresen came in second overall in the NZ Drag Association (NZDRA) Points Series for Modified Bike, winning the Season Points series at Meremere for Modified Bike, and Breaking the NZ National Record for Modified Bike twice, as well as a successive series of wins at other venues.Last year was Thoresen’s first attempt at setting a record at Bonneville on his modified Kawasaki ZX1400. Thoresen was doing well, improving his times with each run. His attempts ended abruptly, however, when he crashed through a timing tower at 180 mph.

Undeterred, Thoresen has returned to Bonneville Speedway with a goal of hitting 197 mph. His ZX1400 has been repaired and reconfigured to run in the stock class. We caught up with this very spirited Kiwi at the starting line on August 19, 2008. Thoresen spoke of his crash last year and what he is doing differently this year in this video podcast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Texas Panhead Blazes Its Way Into The Record Books

[Slow Connection? Click to view the Viddler version.]

David Pilgrim of Rockport, Texas, has set numerous Land Speed records with his 1950 Panhead motor at Bonneville Speedway. A Panhead? Really? That goes 140 MPH?

Yes, really. It not a 120 cubic inch aftermarket Panhead either. It's the real deal, and it meets all the requirements set by SCTA to race in the Vintage Class. The motor was built by Paul Friebus of American Cycle Fabrication, who also races at Bonneville and has set his own Land Speed records on a 1937 Harley Davidson.

David Pilgrim owns four motors built by Friebus, three of which are record setters. Pilgrim has set numerous world speed records in excess of 140 MPH on motorcycles, and also holds a 236.664 mph record in his Chevy Corvette. Girl Wonder interviewed Pilgrim at the impound area for record setting vehicles on August 20, 2008.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Randy Smith, The BMW R75/5 Bonneville Racer

[Slow Connection? Click to view the Viddler version.]

"We had an internet film crew that found us waiting in line the first day. They seemed interested in our project and followed us for a couple of days. I think they put together a video that shares my Bonneville experience pretty well."   Randy Smith, 2008

This year marks the 60th annual Speedweek, hosted on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. Speed demons come from all over the world to see the salt flats, to set world speed records, and to take part in one of the last refuges of grassroots racing. At Bonneville, it’s you and your machine, racing upon a vast plain of white salt.

Randy Smith made the 1500 mile journey from Southern Illinois to race at Bonneville Speedway. Randy is the fastest man in the 750cc push rod class, setting a world speed record on his 1970, partially streamlined BMW R/75. Last year he posted a top record speed of 120.357 mph – and now he’s back to top his personal best. Randy set a new speed record, and he shares his Bonneville experience in this video podcast.