Moto Guzzi Pushrod Engined Land Speed Record Assault

Letters from the Team Manager, Walter Barlow

July 21, 2000

It's been a while since I provided an update on what's going on with your Moto Guzzi Land Speed Record team, and the time is right to correct that.  We're going back in October (10/19-21): August was tempting, but since we felt that we'd have to go in October anyway to ensure we had the 2000 record, we didn't have the time and resources to make two trips.  Some BIG news below, but first, here's what's happening with the LeMans 1000.

We've made only a couple of mechanical changes, mostly in the interest of reliably making power and as well as some gearing additions.  Main things we added were Carillo rods, a set of Dyna coils, and a crank triggered ignition. We also purchased a spline converter to allow us to take advantage of some more gearing options. With these changes, we're hoping to hit and be able to maintain redline for our runs and thereby raise our record some more.

We've also made some purchases that should help a lot for the Partial Streamline class.  We acquired an Agostini full fairing and Russell had a large diameter exhaust system made for the bike just for this class.  We feel these changes will help us substantially raise the Partial Streamline record.

The BIG news I referred to above is that we finally decided to also enter a bike in the 1,350cc Production Pushrod Class. Why an 1100 Sport and not a new V11 Sport?  Simple really; mainly because we feel very strongly that a faired bike has a much better chance of breaking the record than an unfaired bike.  The record is currently held by a Buell and is a little over 150mph; which is quite an achievement at Bonneville. After consulting with Dr. John Wittner, who feels confident that a properly modified 1100 Sport has a good chance to exceed the record, we decided to take the plunge.  Development/building of the Sport will proceed along the same proven (and absolutely legal) lines as we did with the LeMans. Russell Duke will be responsible for building this bike as well as the LeMans. Folks, if you happen to run into Russell anywhere, shake his hand and thank him for all his hard work.

MGNA is lending us a carb 1100 Sport for the attempt.  So, thank John Porter when you see him for all the support that they are providing.  One piece of news that should absolutely thrill you is that after we're done with the bike this year, John plans to offer it for sale via auction to MGNOC members.  One of you is going to wind up with an absolute killer historic bike!

Since we're running in three classes this year, we've reshuffled riding assignments.  Todd Ross will pilot the 1100 Sport, Mitch Freshour will continue as the Partial Streamline rider, and Sidney Conn finally gets to ride his LeMans in 1,000cc Pushrod Production.  I know they will continue to give 100% and make us proud.

Now for some sobering news. As most of you know, Harley-Davidson owners did not greet our taking of what they considered "their" records too kindly and several groups of them (most notably the folks on the Internet Sportster Mailing List with an H-D XR1000) have put together teams to "bring the record back where it belongs" (their words).  They obviously have a much larger owner base to support them than we do.

However, I'm counting on Guzzisti to make up with enthusiasm what we lack in numbers.  The Sportster folks have a not so surprisingly large amount of industry heavyweights in their corner.  I've heard that legends Jerry Branch (the man who virtually invented flow bench processes, and who did the heads for the factory XRs) and Dick Obrien (long time honcho of H-D's factory race team), among others, are personally involved.  But Russell (and the other team members), Dr. John, and Manfred Hectch ain't chopped liver, if you get my drift, and I like our chances.  Early runs the XR has done at Maxton, NC (the East Coast Timing Association has speed runs there) show them making progress in the form of increasing speeds.

They're not at our level yet, but if talent and dedication is any measure, they should be competitive by Bonneville. They're going to Bonneville in August as well as October, so, we'll see what they have.   I've met several of the Sportster team members and they very committed to getting the records.  The members that I've met (team lead, owner, rider, and a couple others) are all real nice people, as dedicated as any Guzzisti to their brand, and are entering this in a spirit of high sportsmanship. Personally, I'm proud and glad to have them as competition.  Too bad their engine has 45 too few degrees and points the wrong way :-)

The second piece of sobering news is that the attempt for the 1,350cc record will cause an additional financial strain on the team.  Our budget for modifying the Sport 1100 is approximately $5,500.  I implore you to support the team financially with whatever amount you can. Many of you have done this already, with outright donations as well as by buying various things we have for sale. For that, the entire Moto Guzzi community thanks you.  In the spirit of Bonneville competition, we've kept this pretty owner-centric; though we have unsuccessfully tried for a major sponsorship or two.  We're continuing to try to do something on this front, but are not counting on it.

Plans are in place for a new shirt and I hope to have some available for the National.  Though we are out of the shirts we previously had, we still have decals and postcards available for sale.  Both are pretty cool and give you a visible way to show your support.

You can make a credit card donation (or order merchandise via credit card) by calling 1-800-877-9506 and asking for Muriel.  If you don't have access to an 800 number, you can email or fax it to 1-704-878-9505. Please include your expiration date and the name as it appears on the card.  If you prefer to use a check, please make it out and mail it to me at:

Walter Barlow
62 Kane Ave.
Spotswood, NJ 08884

And no amount is too small.

I want to close on this subject by again thanking those of you who have contributed in any manner.  And I can't close without thanking the following people for what I consider financial support above and beyond the call of duty: Leonard Lloyd, John Wilcox, Barry Porter, Gary Overby, Pat Hayes, Jim Lucia, and Daniel Kalal.

So, that's where we stand as of 7/17/00.  Bookmark the website that Sheldon Aubut maintains for us at 

In addition to news about the effort including the financials (should be updated at the end of July), we also plan to do day by day updates from the salt this October as we did last year.  We're also trying to see if we can do some video feeds; but my experience with trying to do this with IBN coverage says it's going to be a challenge (that's a subtle way of saying if anybody has experience with this and wants to provide some guidance/assistance, we'll accept the help).

Everybody out loud now.....

Walter Barlow

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