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

  • Randy Johnson’s 1972 Norton Commando on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • What’s the first thing you do when you get out of the truck after a 24-hour drive? You head for tech inspection.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • In a production class, the bike must be both safe and factory stock.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Initialed inspection stickers are a badge of pride.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Randy Johnson’s 1972 Norton Commando on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • The trailer has enough room for working on the bike inside when needed. Here an official seals the tank and initials the tape.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Randy Johnson chats with a race official while waiting for the course to clear.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Rick Gold, owner of ERC Racing Fuels, reads the spark plugs from Randy’s Norton.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Cleaning salt off the bike is critical.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • The slip from Randy’s best run.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • “One up, three down, turn to the right.” Randy Johnson on his 1972 Norton Commando on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce
  • Randy Johnson’s 1972 Norton Commando on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.
    Photo By Daniel Peirce

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.

meeesterpaul
12/31/2013 8:14:50 AM

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







November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

LEARN MORE