Moto Guzzi Pushrod Engined Land Speed Record Assault




October 20, 1999

We rose early and met for breakfast as we had to be on the salt for the drivers meeting by 8:00 a.m.  My first impression of the Bonneville Salt Flats was “Spectacular”.  The flats look an awful lot like a large Minnesota Lake in the winter.  Completely white for all the way to the surrounding mountains.  I was half expecting to see Ice Fishing Houses scattered across it.  The road in was pretty smooth and we traveled at 90mph with little trouble.  On the way in we passed an ambulance going the other direction with its lights flashing.  “That cannot be good” we thought.  When we arrived we ran to the Drivers’ meeting and got the scoop on the day’s activities.  The most distressing thing was that the chief tech inspector had had a heart attack and the day would not begin until the ambulance returned.  We were told that he would be ok though, which was good news.

It took us about an hour to straighten out registrations, sign waivers, get Todd’s equipment inspected and do a bunch of other things, including buying a couple of souvenir shirts.

Russel had gotten the bike through technical inspection on Tuesday so we were just about ready to run when we got there.  A few more tweeks and the Todd suited up and took the bike out to the line to try to run a break in run on the motor.  This motor had just been built by Russel Duke and only had two blocks on it.  The bike also had no tach or speedo cables.  We were waiting for the tach cable to arrive from Moto Interenational, so Todd didn’t want to run the bike to hard.  Just a little mild-mannered ride to get the juices flowing.

The Record that we are running after is 119 mph, so he decided that he would shoot for about 90mph for the break in run.  One problem on the salt is that there are really few points of reference to give you a sensation of speed.  Todd got the go ahead, ran it up a little, dropped out of the throttle, feathered it a bit, shifted down, shifted up, coasted a little and generally just tried to vary speed.

The record in this class, 1000cc Pushrod Production, was 119mph, until Todd’s engine break-in run.  Danged if he didn’t crack it open and push it, unofficially, to 121.  He was not trying to do that but the bike ran so smooth and he had no speed reference and had no clue as to how fast he was going.  This presented us with a problem.  We now either could continue to run or put the bike into the impoundment area and try to make a back up pass to set an official record.  We talked about it a bit and we all decided that this was a pretty good start and we should go for it.  So the bike went to impoundment and we had to sit around, albeit watching 300mph cars, and 205mph Hyabusas, making their runs, until 3:30 p.m. when we could make the second run.

On the second run he opened it up a bit more.  You have to realize that this bike is not broken in yet, the street gears are still in it and it is still jetted for sea level.  For break in the bike should run a bit rich so we were not yet prepared to take it to the max but this was an opportunity to at least grab something no matter what happened the rest of the week. 

We all stood around waiting and biting our nails as he made his pass.  128mph!!!!!  The bike went directly to tech impoundment to be torn into and checked out.  The engine was found to be in compliance and was sealed so that we could continue to run.  We now believed we held the record, but then the scruitineer took  out the photo of a stock bike we had brought as documentation.  Turns out the photo was of a 1988 instead of a 1989, but that really didn’t matter much as he immediately noticed that there was a small body part missing from the bike.  Oh no, we now have to acquire the proper documentation and that body part.  A search went out over the internet and cell phones and we learned that Godfrey DiGiorgi, in the San Fransico Bay area had one and would ship it to us in the morning.  He also had the proper photo of the LM. Which he would include with the package.

By the time we finished and set the bike for overnight it was getting late.  We all met at the Hotel restaurant for dinner and recounted the day’s events.  Setting the record was a great accomplishment, having it be unofficial, was a great disappointment.  But we have three more days to get it together.

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