Moto Guzzi Pushrod Engined Land Speed Record Assault

Tuesday
October 19, 1999

by Sheldon Aubut

7:00 a.m. in Duluth Minnesota, and I have been up for about three hours already.  My flight for Salt Lake City doesn't leave until 12:55 local time so I've come into work to see how useless I can be for an entire morning.  The weather here is overcast, with spots of drizzle around the area, about 35 f. (1.6 c.).  Forecast for Wendover Utah, near the Salt Flats, from http://www.excite.com is:

5-Day Forecast - Farenheit
Tue
  High 56
Low 31

Cool.
Sunny.
Wed
  High 57
Low 22

Cool.
Sunny.
Thu
  High 76
Low 23

Sunny.
Fri
  High 74
Low 27

Sunny.
Sat
  High 68
Low 24

Mild.
Sunny.
s
 

5-Day Forecast  -  Celsius

Tue
  High 13
Low -1

Cool.
Sunny.
Wed
  High 14
Low -6

Cool.
Sunny.
Thu
  High 24
Low -5

Sunny.
Fri
  High 23
Low -3

Sunny.
Sat
  High 20
Low -4

Mild.
Sunny.
s

Looking pretty good for a record run!!!

Stopped at Christal's house on the way into town to say goodbye.  I am going to miss her dearly, but hey, I will just have to console myself with all the fun I will be having...

I am so excited that this about the only thing that I can think about.  Yesterday the e-mail server at work went down and this morning I have to tear it apart, fix it, and get it back on-line.  I really have to wonder if I can even accomplish such a simple task without messing things up.  My mind is on engines, horsepower, airlines, meeting new/old friends and having the time of my life.  I am looking forward to meeting folks that I have chatted with on-line for years but have never met face to face.  I am looking forward to the challenge and anticipation of being a part of Moto Guzzi History.  Fixing a computer is not high on my priority list today.  I really should have taken the whole day off but instead I came into work at 6:15 and will work until 11:30, getting in most of a full day of work.  (Well, at least I am here).  That way I don't really have to burn another day of vacation. ( 10:30 a.m. - If anyone from the office is reading this, please ignore the above.  I really did work on the server and on computer budgeting for Shawano!  So I did get something done.)

My voice mail today will say, "This is Sheldon Aubut at Owens Forest Products.  I will be out of the office, on vacation, from the afternoon of the 19th, returning on the 26th.  I will be at the Bonneville Salt Flats, with the Moto Guzzi Land Speed Record Team setting a new Land Speed Record in the 1000cc Pushrod Production Class.  If you would like to leave a message there is the possibility that I will be calling in to check my mail, but then again maybe not.  The best way to reach me is to e-mail biker@cwizard.com .  Otherwise if you need immediate assistance please dial "0" and the receptionist will assist you."

It is going to be one very interesting week.  My job will be to keep you folks informed of what is going on with the team on the flats, but you are probably also going to hear what is going on with the team off the flats.  We are all staying at a casino in Wendover Nevada, just across the border from the Bonneville Salt Flats.  I am sure there is some mischief that we can get into in Nevada, so there should be some great tales to tell.

It should be interesting to see how my remote computing works.  A couple of weeks ago my laptop blew its top.  The mother board has the video card built into it and the video part of it died.  There was no way for me to get a replacement in time for this trip and the manufacturer wanted over $1,000 to fix it.  It is a Winbook Pentium 166 so it was hardly worth that kind of expense as you can buy a new, much better, unit for about the same price.  I did manage to get it working using an external monitor.  Problem is that I can't haul a monitor along with me everywhere I go.  So Russell Duke, our illustrious engine builder, was supposed to bundle a monitor in the truck with the bike.  Hopefully once ensconced in my hotel room I can set up the whole contraption and be able to update the web site remotely.  This kind of thing is always a shooting match in the first place, as using a credit card, from a hotel room to dial the internet, can sometimes work and sometimes not.  We shall see.

I also have my Sony tape recorder along and will try to get sounds from the flats to add to the web site.  My Kodak DC210 Plus digital camera should also get quite a workout.  It has an 8meg card which should allow me to take about 60 medium resolution photos per day.  I will post the best of the lot here.  Of course this is assuming that all this digital gadgetry works.  I make no guarantees but I will sure do my best to make things happen.

My flight leaves at 12:55 p.m. local time to Minneapolis where I have to change planes.  Todd Ross and Ed Holmes should end up at the Minneapolis airport for a plane change also and we should be able to hook up.  So far we know that I am in the 12th row and they are in the 16th row on the flight from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City.  The bad part of this is that I am arriving from Duluth at 1:55 p.m. and the flight to SLC doesn't leave until 4:55 p.m.  I have a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis.  Wish I would have realized that earlier.   I could have arranged for a friend to come keep me company.  Oh well, I sleep pretty well sitting up.

I believe that Russell left Sunday for his 30 hour drive to the Flats, the balloon and balloon team from Firefly Balloons should also be on its way and we will be converging on the flats tomorrow morning, although some will be there setting up tents and getting things ready today.

I will try to post again tonight from wherever I end up.  I was expecting to stay the night in Salt Lake City but now it is looking like we have to go to Salt Lake Motor Sports to pick up boxes of equipment that was shipped in for us, then head to Wendover this evening.  I do not have a room for tonight but I should be able to crash on someone else's couch or floor.

10:45 a.m.  Walter just posted a very interesting note to the Moto Guzzi List, and danged if it didn't get me all teary eyed:

Folks,
I wanted to get a few thoughts down prior to the having the excitement of the actual Moto Guzzi class land speed record attempt taking place sweep them away.

Regardless of the outcome, the fact that the team is out there is somewhat astonishing. We kicked this project off formally just about 3 months ago. It started as a "tease" on the MG mailing list, died down, was threaded again as a tease, followed by some collective breast-thumping, and then someone (Sheldon, I think) actually had the temerity to ask the serious question; "well, you want to go after it?

Let's have some volunteers.". Silence.... One misconstrued email later, and we had had a totally unqualified team leader. Within days after calling for people who had the wherewithal to do certain things, we had a team. Shortly after that we had a plan. With the help of some technology, we were able to put together a working structure that suited our needs. As time went on, we used that technology to basically do everything we needed to do: allowing us to get the people, talent, support (LOTS of support from a lot of people, and I'm not just talking money), and coordination we needed to get the team and bike on the salt.

What really brought this home to me was meeting our backup rider and mechanic, Mitch, at the Barber Museum last week and then meeting our main rider, Todd, at Ducs Fly South in Ga. a day later. Up to that point, I had never met anyone on the team, and had only talked to Russell, our builder, on the phone twice!

This really opened my eyes; in a way that internet-based email, lists, socializing, purchasing, browsing, research, and work related things never did, about the empowering aspect of advanced communications. I've been preaching this internet gospel so long that I lost sight of what it _means_. We use it so much for everyday things that it's easy to lose sight of what it enables and can unleash. And, this effort we're doing is such a trivial pursuit in the overall scheme of things that my mind once again can boggle at the potential the future holds for mankind if we don't screw it up.

While maybe no big deal in the big picture, I think it's no exaggeration to say that this effort has shown both the best aspects of motorcycling and technology.

Sorry for such a long mostly non motorcycling thread, but I'm feeling kind of emotional about this right now and this missive helps.

BTW: we'll be posting daily updates from the flats at http://www.inredllc.com/lsrguzzi/index.html  so check it out if you have time, and wish us luck. The weather forecast looks absolutely great!

BTW2: still a few shirts left. Order one while you're at the site
regards,
Walter Barlow

I'll be darned if he didn't hit a whole bunch of nails on the head.  This started as just a bit of bragging by some folks on the list and grew into something much more.  At the end of June, when I challenged the list to "Put up or shut Up, they "Put up" without question.  Then we had to start looking for a person to manage the team.  At first Walter said he would like to be "involved".  Little did he know...  By July 6th he was way too hooked to back out and somewhat willingly jumped in with both feet.  He has since done a very professional job of guiding us.  We are on our way to Bonneville, three months later, and with a very good chance of pulling this off, with about the best team imaginable.

 

(Following was actually posted Thursday)

Posting will be a bit sparse as I am actually posting this on Thursday.  Turns out that the monitor I was expecting, for use with my laptop, did not arrive.  There was no other computer available that was up to the duty.  And here in Wendover NV that is not much more than a bunch of casinos, hotels, one Burger King, a Pizza Hut and lots of salt.  Just had a monitor delivered to me (Thursday noon) by Steve Midgley from Salt Lake Motorsports,, one of our sponsors, so I can not try to catch you folks up on what is going on.

Had an uneventful flight from Duluth to Minneapolis, and a 4 hour layover at Minneapolis.  About an hour before the flight was to leave for Salt Lake City two crazy looking guys came up to me and introduced themselves as Todd Ross and Ed Holmes.  We had a chance to talk for a while before we got on the plane and I was even more convinced that Walter Barlow had put together the right people.  Still have to meet a lot of them but this was a very good start.  Flight to SLC was pretty normal other than the fact that the heater in the aircraft was malfunctioning and at first it was down around 20 degrees in the cabin.  Then they managed to warm it up to about 95, but about half the flight it was almost comfortable.  Considering that we were flying NorthWest I was not too concerned as trouble of one kind or another on their flights is pretty common.  Usually though, it is cancelled flights that cause me grief.

We arrived in Salt Lake City at about 6:30 p.m., just as the sun was starting to drop behind the mountains.  It was an incredible view from the aircraft, with the mountains surrounding the city and lake.  We picked up our Alamo rental van and headed out to find Salt Lake Motor Sports where we were to pick up the lubricants and other things that had been shipped in for us.  Matt Spencer waited for us to arrive, and of course we didn’t arrive on time.  The street numbering system in SLC is much different than anything we have ever encountered, and by the time we arrived at the dealer we had seen the entire SLC freeway system.  Maybe twice…  But we had fun bonding…  <grin>

After picking up our stuff, and spending an hour chatting with Matt, we hit the road for Wendover Nevada where we had hotel reservations.  The highway was straight and we cruised at 90-95 mph, with Todd driving.  He did manage to find that the rental van was governed to 100 mph.  I am sure that he didn’t mean to break the law, but something must have come over him.  The speed limit on these roads is 75 normally so he wasn’t that for over…

At the hotel we found Russel Duke and his friend who helped him drive from Austin.  We chatted a while then went off to bed.  By this time it was almost midnight.  I laid awake for quite some time anticipating what would happen tomorrow.

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