Only once in several years does the salt at Bonneville dry to a perfect cement-like surface, and this was one of those years. For the lucky participants of the 2018 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST), conditions were ideal for reaching incredible speeds, allowing many land-speed racers to set new FIM World Records, and reach their long-held goals.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” exclaimed FIM competitor Jay Allen, who has been coming to the Bonneville Salt Flats for 16 years. “I think I’ve seen this maybe two or three times in my career. This is epic salt.”
A remarkable story of the meet belongs to 18-year-old Cayla Rivas. BMST 2018 marked the first FIM World Records event for Cayla, daughter of four-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing champion Chris Rivas. Cayla was helped by the backing of Royal Enfield and S&S Racing for a full factory effort aboard a Royal Enfield 650 Twin. Rivas came to Bonneville with the goal of reaching 130 mph in the naturally aspirated 750cc class, which she reached the first day of competition. By the end of the week, Rivas blew her own record out of the water with a 158 mph (254 km/h) record. “I’m pretty happy with the final results. We bumped our own record six or seven times, blew two engines, and upped the record by 57 mph so I’d say we had a pretty successful week,” said Rivas.
Hiro Koiso of Las Vegas, Nevada set a blistering speed on his first run out, promptly backing it up with a return run for a new FIM World Record of 223.195 mph (359.199 km/h) aboard his supercharged Harley-Davidson. Koiso made another attempt the next day to up his own record, reaching an incredible 259 mph (416 km/h), but he soon found out it was all his Harley-Davidson FXD could handle, as the front tyre began to shred and he lost a piston. Koiso managed to keep it on two wheels through the trap to record the fast time of the meet, but his week was finished at that point.
Jay Allen and Steve Garn are among BMST regulars who made their career-first attempts at an FIM World Record in 2018, and both were able to reach their goals. Allen captured the first FIM World Record of the meet aboard his Code-Talker Harley-Davidson, smashing the previous record by 40 mph with a 229.762 mph (369.766) average. Garn, who drove all the way from North Carolina to compete aboard his 1974 Yamaha RD350, set a new FIM World Record on the opening day, and then upped his own speed later in the week for a final record of 117.031 mph (188.344 km/h) aboard the little two-stroke.
“This is my 16th year as a land speed racer and my first year attempting an FIM record,” said Allen. “It’s truly pretty awesome to say I’m a world-record holder. And it’s one of those days that you feel really blessed. I can’t believe it!”
Giacomo Zanetti had the honor of piloting the smallest motor of the week—a 1963 Mosquito 38B moped. Zanetti accomplished his long-held dream of coming to Bonneville to set an FIM World Record when he combined two successful passes for a record of 18.613 mph (29.995 km/h). It was an emotional victory for Zanetti, who garnered much attention with his beautiful copper-trimmed Mosquito moped.
Another big effort with a small motor all the way from Europe was Gilles Pujol. The French rider piloted his unique 100cc two-stroke sidecar to a new FIM World Record of 28.384 mph (45.680 km/h).
But it wasn’t all good news, even for racers who managed to reach their goals, such as Kerry O’Day—the proud owner of the “World’s Fastest KLR.” O’Day had a great day on Tuesday when he rode his 2003 Kawasaki KLR650 into the record books for a new FIM World Record of 127.142 mph (204.616 km/h), but ran into disaster the next day. In an attempt to up his own record, O’Day’s run ended in a fiery conclusion. Fortunately no one was injured.
“I get into the measured mile, hit the NOS, the bike screams, and then starts slowing up,” O’Day explained. “I thought, ‘That’s weird.’ Then I’m getting a lot of heat off the engine. I look down and I’m on fire! There’s flames coming up between my legs! I got off course as quick as I could and as soon as the bike slowed up to about 15 mph I just jumped off of it and let it go crash. Had a nice bonfire for a while. It burned up all the fiberglass and the plastic and the tyres and the rubber and the engine. All the aluminum parts are melted.”
“I was going to retire the bike anyway,” he said. “I just wanted it to look a little prettier going into my museum. But, we got a new world record yesterday. And we went out in a blaze of glory, and with a great story.”
O’Day didn’t have the only scary moment of the week... Kaz Mizutani of the Mobitec electric factory team all the way from Japan was reaching for a goal of 200 mph, and was almost there when disaster struck. While accelerating in the timed mile, the handlebar started to swap, causing Mizutani to come off the bike at 184 mph. Fortunately Mizutani was not seriously injured, only suffering a sprained wrist in the crash. The Mobitec electric motorcycle was sent skidding for over 300 yards (275 meters) and the team’s efforts were ended for the week.
For others, it wasn’t disaster, but simple disappointment. Takushi Chikakane all the way from Osaka, Japan, intended to show that his 125cc Honda Super Cub was the fastest in the world. He was relentless in his quest for the 123-mph record, but sadly was unable to break the 100-mph mark. Chikakane worked tirelessly throughout the week, and made no less than 23 passes in the attempt, but was ultimately forced to return home empty handed.
Belen Wagner and Nick Genet also claimed FIM World Records during the week. Wagner earned two new records, bumping her tally to a remarkable 20 FIM World Records in her career.
The FIM thanks all participants for coming to the 2018 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST) and would like to congratulate all new FIM World Record holders. All records are pending ratification by the FIM.
New FIM World Records to date:
30/08/2018 Belen WAGNER Suzuki Hayabusa I.A1.B II.3+ 1600cc 1 km: 217.393 mph* 1 km: 349.860 km/h*
29/08/2018 Stephen GARN Yamaha RD350 I.A1.A I.2 350cc 1 km: 117.417 mph* 1 km: 188.965 km/h*
29/08/2018 Gilles PUJOL Gilles Pujol Saline Yucca I.B1.A I.1 100cc 1 km: 28.327 mph* 1 km: 45.588 km/h*
29/08/2018 Cayla RIVAS Royal Enfield 650cc Twin I.A1.A I.2 750cc 1 km: 157.145 mph* 1 km: 252.901 km/h*
28/08/2018 Kerry O'DAY Kawasaki KLR650 I.A1.B I.1 750cc 1 km: 127.190 mph* 1 km: 204.693 km/h*
28/08/2018 Pietro ZANETTI Garelli Mosquito 38 B I.A3.A I.1 50cc 1 km: 18.740 mph* 1 km: 30.159 km/h*
27/08/2018 Belen WAGNER KTM rs 125 I.A1.B I.1 125cc 1 km: 129.423 mph* 1 km: 208.286 km/h*
27/08/2018 Stephen GARN Yamaha RD350 I.A1.A I.2 350cc 1 km: 116.701 mph* 1 km: 187.813 km/h*
27/08/2018 Jay ALLEN Harley DavidsonDyna I.A1.A II.2 2000cc 1 km: 191.779 mph* 1 km: 308.638 km/h*
27/08/2018 Cayla RIVAS Royal Enfield 650cc Twin I.A1.A I.2 750cc 1 km: 139.419 mph* 1 km: 224.374 km/h*
26/08/2018 Hirohisa KOISO Harley DavidsonJims FXD I.A1.B II.2 2500cc 1 km: 224.340 mph* 1 km: 361.040 km/h*
26/08/2018 Jean Nicolas GENET Suzuki TL1000R I.A1.B I.2 1000cc 1 km: 171.808 mph* 1 km: 276.499 km/h*
26/08/2018 Jay ALLEN Harley DavidsonDyna I.A1.B II.2 2000cc 1 km: 230.043 mph* 1 km: 370.218 km/h*
26/08/2018 Stephen GARN Yamaha RD350 I.A1.A I.2 350cc 1 km: 110.234 mph* 1 km: 177.404 km/h*
26/08/2018 Cayla RIVAS Royal Enfield 650cc Twin I.A1.A I.2 750cc 1 km: 138.700 mph* 1 km: 223.217 km/h*
Words and pictures by Jean Turner for FIM