Young Guns at the Bonneville Salt Flats


When you arrive at the Salt Flats, it’s hard to believe at first. The place is so vast, and temperatures can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius. It’s a very hostile environment. It’s like another planet, one you couldn’t imagine. Then you’re sitting there at the starting line on your race-prepared motorbike with the engine running, and it suddenly hits you that this is the moment you’ve been working towards for years, and there’s no way back. Here we are back at our garage. The first thing we did was strip Ferdinand right down, and everything looks better than expected. It didn’t sound so good the first time out. I was pretty apprehensive on the first run, obviously, the whole team was. No one had ridden the bike at all since it was converted from a dragster to a land speed racer. The clutch hadn’t even been tried out until we were on the starting line in Bonneville. One never-ending straight that you ride down, and all you can see is the Salt Flats. It’s impressive when you finally see the mountains on the horizon. They’re reflected in the salt. At the end of this long straight, you’re back at the camp itself, where all the drivers and riders, the mechanics and the teams are gathered together. It was really impressive for me, finally seeing all the stuff that was hitting the Salt Flats, like 16-cylinder trucks. My favourite team was made up of three pensioners. One of them had started the project, and his two best friends thought it was cool that they had an excuse to escape from their wives at night. The next day, there was the tech inspection. The inspector, Pappy, asked us how fast we were planning to go with our machine. We didn‘t want to get carried away, so we said 160 miles per hour. Pappy checked the record stats and saw that the record in our class, which we were supposed to be chasing, was 200. Then he inspected our bike, and he didn’t believe that we only wanted to do 160. It took three rounds of checks before they were satisfied and we could finally head to the starting line. Ferdinand reached a top speed of 164 miles per hour. The record currently stands at 200. The record attempt had to be abandoned due to an engine failure. Preparations for a new record attempt in Bonneville are already under way.

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