1972 Norton Commando Tackles the Bonneville Salt Flats

A rookie crew member at the Bonneville Salt Flats gains an inside look at breaking a Speed Week land speed record on a 1972 Norton Commando.

| January/February 2014

Guy: “This Norton has a speed record of 126mph?! In 1974 my Norton did 130 with my girlfriend on the back!”

Racer: “That’s cool ... but did you do it at Bonneville?”

It’s hot and the air is thin. And salt isn’t the best surface to go fast on. But if you want to have a land speed record in the books, you have to do it on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.

The backstory

I received an email from the North Texas Norton Owners Association. NTNOA member Randy Johnson was looking for a volunteer to help with his 1972 Norton Commando land speed record effort in Bonneville during the Bonneville Speed Week in August 2013. After thinking about it for two minutes, I was that volunteer.

Randy’s regular crew chief, Steve Adkins of Big D Cycle in Dallas, couldn’t make the run. In 2012, Randy Johnson and Steve set the record in the 750cc Production Pushrod class at 126.434mph. The yellow 1972 Norton Commando also ran an unofficial speed of 129mph. Randy was out to break his own record, with a goal of 130mph.

It would be my first time at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and I was prepared to learn a lot in a short amount of time. I met Randy for the first time when he picked me up on Saturday to begin the 24-hour drive from Dallas to Bonneville. Speed Week begins on Saturday, but Randy prefers to get there on Sunday to avoid the opening day crowds.

12/31/2013 8:14:50 AM

110 Octane? Sounds too high. Was a lower octane tried?

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.