Sam Wheeler and his 1970 record- setting Norton streamliner, which did 208.729mph.
Each year as the summer winds down, things heat up on the Bonneville Salt Flats, just more than 110 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. For the past six years, the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials have been held on this, the most hallowed grounds of land speed racing. From the fastest two-wheelers in the world to motorcycles of bygone days, from showroom models to purpose built bikes, racers bring their machines here to test their mettle as they attempt to etch their names in the record books.
This year’s event was held Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, open to anyone with a valid driver’s license and a motorcycle that passed a safety inspection who was willing to plunk down the required entry fee ($175-$600, depending on class). Racers competed in a variety of classes sanctioned by either the AMA (national) or the FIM (international). Some riders also took part in the “Run Watcha Brung” (RWB) class, in which riders competed on the Mountain course, the shorter of the two official courses setup for the event. RWB riders’ times were electronically calculated just like the sanctioned classes, except that no records are kept for this class.
This type of racing is like nothing else in motorsports. As it was so eloquently put by event founder Dennis Manning of BUB Enterprises, “It’s not racing, it’s making history — you have to beat the fastest of the fastest!”
The conditions are extreme and challenge racers with high elevation (4,214 feet), searing heat, unpredictable winds and a slick racing surface. Add to that holding the throttle wide open for extended periods and you have the potential for lots of mechanical problems. But these racers take it all in stride, heading back into the pits as they get their machinery ready for that next potential perfect run. These guys are hard-core, and once bitten by the salt bug, many are hooked. The BUB Speed Trials will return to the salt Aug. 28 through Sept. 2, 2010.
Editor’s Note: At the Cook Private meet held on the salt three weeks after BUB, Chris Carr piloted BUB Seven to a new FIM and AMA record with a two-way average speed of 367.382mph. Congratulations to the entire BUB crew for once again having “The World’s Fastest Motorcycle.” MC