On the rare occasion when the Bonneville Salt Flats reach prime condition, you can bet that numerous records will fall in a short period of time. That is exactly what happened on the opening day of the 2018 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST) event, Sunday, 26 August, where no less than five new FIM World Records were set — four of them before lunchtime.
Dozens of racers were lined up at the start at dawn’s first light, eager to take advantage of the cool morning air. One of the first runs completed was by Jay Allen, who captured the first record of the meet. Allen smashed the existing record of 189 mph [304 km/h]aboard his “Code Talker” Harley Davidson Dyna, setting a blistering speed of 227 [365 km/h]right out of the gate. He backed it up for a return run of 232 mph [373 km/h]for a new FIM World Record, the first for Allen, who already has 41 land-speed records to his credit.
“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 was out here flogging both these bikes last week at Speed Week and they performed and so you start getting a little superstitious—‘how long they going to hold together?’ But that girl just grunted it out and I averaged a 229.7 [369.9 km/h] on both runs. So man, we’re world-record holders! I can’t believe it!”
Young racer Cayla Rivas succeeded in nabbing her first FIM World Record on Sunday. The 18-year-old set a qualifying speed of 132 mph on her opening run—only her second time on the brand-new Royal Enfield 650 Twin. She backed it up with another remarkably consistent run of 132 mph [212 km/h] for a world record.
“This will be my 12th record overall,” Rivas said with a smile. “It was awesome. The salt conditions are better than I thought it would be. The bike went so smoothly. It was just… a perfect run.”
After reaching her goal in the first hours of the five-day event, Rivas and the S&S Racing Royal Enfield team immediately got to work on the machine to improve her times. After consistently quicker speeds throughout the day, Rivas ended on a high note with a single pass of 139 mph [224 km/h]. She has four more days to work with, and will no doubt come up with some even better speeds this week.
Hirohisa Koiso was another FIM competitor to get out to a remarkably quick start. “My wife won’t be happy,” Koiso confessed after his first run aboard his partially streamlined Harley-Davidson twin. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident explained that he promised his wife he would “take it easy” on his first run and keep it under 200 mph [322 km/h], but he clocked a pass of 219 mph [352 km/h], setting the bar quite high on his first run. He followed that with a 227-mph pass [365 km/h] and a new FIM World Record.
Nick Genet managed to up his own record by a few miles per hour aboard his Suzuki TL1000R, marking the fourth person to collect an FIM World Record on Sunday. Genet got his busy week off to a good start, and plans to go after several records in both AMA and FIM divisions.
Steve Garn marked the fifth rider on the day to put his name in the FIM World Record books, also claiming his career-first world title. Garn piloted his classic 1974 Yamaha RD350 to an average of 110 mph [177 km/h] aboard the little four-stroke twin.
“It started out where every little thing that coulda happened, happened,” said Garn, describing the bad luck that haunted most of his day. “But we went out and we ran a pretty good time the first time. I know the bike has a lot more in it. But then we wanted to back it up. I was really happy the way it turned out. And then we just got through where they measured the engine and it’s proper. It’s stamped.”
Garn carded his two successful passes without pushing the machine too hard—a common tactic used by many racers today. After playing it safe to put their name in the record books, riders like Garn now plans to seek more out of their motorcycles in the coming days of the event.
“Now we can really start pushing the motor more and more. That way if I blow it up or something, the record has already been done and it’s already been measured and sealed,” Garn explained. “So now I can start pushing it. And it needs to be pushed more. But you don’t want to start out that way and blow it up before you get a run in.”
For at least five riders, the immediate goal has been met on day one of BMST, and the rest is gravy. Meanwhile, there are more racers who are still arriving on the salt. With more competitors and four more days to run in incredible conditions at Bonneville, it should be a tasty week for FIM World Records!
Story and Photos by Jean Turner