The world’s fastest motorcycles have once again converged on the Bonneville Salt Flats to race for FIM Land Speed World Records at the 2019 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST). The track is prepped, and racers spent today going through scrutineering in preparation for week of racing. Some have come for the first time, some are looking to improve on their existing records, others are seeking redemption.
More than 20 racers are seeking FIM Land Speed World Records, including Al Lamb and Ralph Hudson, who both sit right at the brink of 300 mph (482 km/h). The duo has passed the record back and forth in recent years, with Hudson currently holding the record at 297 mph (479 km/h). Both Lamb and Hudson have updated bodywork and are ready to duke it out for the official record in the partially streamlined turbocharged 1000cc category, also the all-out record for a sit-on motorcycle (non-streamliner).
In Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda camp, a factory fleet of Hondas await, with land-speed record holders Erin Okonek, 82-year-old Lackey Roosevelt and American Flat Track racer Mikey Rush all ready to take CBR motorcycles of various classes to new records.
Hiro Koiso is back with his supercharged Harley-Davidson, looking for redemption after setting the fastest one-way pass at last year’s BMST meet. Koiso reached a blistering speed of 259 mph (416 km/h) before he shredded his front tire and blew a piston, unable to back up his speed for an official FIM Land Speed World Record. Koiso’s goal with his freshly prepped FXD is to reach 265 mph (426 km/h) this week—a tribute to the Harley-Davidson factory streamliner efforts from 1970, which set a record of 265.492 mph.
Takushi Chikakane travelled from Japan last year to BMST with his 125cc Honda Super Cub seeking a new record, but spent the week battling “salt gremlins” and was unable to crest 100 mph (160 km/h). Chikakane is back this year with two machines, 125cc and 50cc, in brand new custom-built chassis, ready for two new attempts at FIM Land Speed World Records.
Also from Japan is the returning Mobitec team running the only all-electric motorcycle. Last year at BMST, Mobitec rider Kaz Mizutani came off in a frightening crash at 184 mph, skidding over 300 yards (275 meters) before coming to a stop. But the electric motorcycle has been rebuilt and is ready for another attempt: the team eagerly seeks 200 mph (321 km/h).
Familiar faces such as Erin Sills, Trev Richter, Jay Allen, Jim Cole, Belen Wagner, Greg Watters and Kim Krebs are also among competitors seeking to make history this week at Bonneville, along with the FIM’s own Ralph Bohnhorst and the incredibly unique sidecar streamliner.
Action starts tomorrow morning as the course officially opens for racing. Look for daily updates from 2019 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials throughout the coming week.
Story and photos by Jean Turner