Yesterday we bumped the record to 138.586 mph (about 223 km/h) (FIM ratification pending) with a 129 mph (209 km/h) run and a 147 mph (236 km/h) run with an exit speed of 151 mph (243 km/h) (can't remember the decimals and time slips are in the trailer). Today was a less successful day, but we kept the rubber side down and had a decent day.
Picture: Many people have commented how good KillaJoule looks, and I have to admit that it is looking pretty darn good this gear. The composite nose, canopy and sidecar wheel cover really makes it slick. The lightning bolt in "diamond plate" tape really makes it sparkle. I have always liked KillaJoule since it is my baby, but I am getting to like it more and more every day. Photo: Anthony Olway/TTXGP
The morning started great - it was a nice cool morning and we were 3rd in line for the Mountain course, but then things started to be less successful. Previous rider went down and broke his wrist. Ambulance went to a transfer point with the injured rider to transfer to a local ambulance. After 30 minutes it gets pretty hot inside the cockpit, despite the cool morning. The seat also needs some redesigning so my back was getting really sore.
Anyway, we finally got to run and everything seemed to work great. Then halfway through the measured mile at about 128 mph (210 km/h) I lost power. First I thought that I might have slipped on the twist grip throttle and took a new grip, but there was no power. I immediately rolled of the throttle and pushed the brake chute button. When Bill and Mike in the Prius (which is our "chase vehicle" that follows me on the side of the track) saw the chute come out before the end of the measured mile, they new something was wrong. Bill pressed the poor little Prius to 90 mph to catch up, and Mike was surprised that it actually could go that fast.
Since KillaJoule is built to go straight forward, I don't dare to turn at speeds higher than about 15 mph. But I pushed it a little bit and started to turn off the course at about 20 mph with the hope that the I would be able to roll far enough to clear the course for the next rider (I turned in the "right" direction = to the left, where the sidecar would prevent me from tipping over in case the speed was too high). Until you have passed a marked line a certain distance from the track, the next rider can't start. Sitting broken down on the wrong side of the magic line means that all racing activity on that track has to stop. When I slowed down I smelled that something had burned up, which later turned out to be the motors.
Despite Bill's abuse of the Prius, the fire rescue always gets to me first. I gave them thumbs up and asked if any smoke poured out anywhere, but it didn't. If you stop on or close to the the track, the fire rescue is there within 30 seconds or maybe a minute. As a streamliner driver, you always stop on the side of the track (outside the magic line!) and wait for your crew, so you always get a visit from the rescue crew. Most streamliners cannot run slow, KillaJoule is an exception, so they have to wait to be towed or pushed back to the pit area. In most events, you are not allowed to drive a race vehicle outside the track, so I have to be towed despite that I can drive it. In this case 'though, I had to towed since I had lost power. Luckily the Prius has two beefy brackets with holes in the back that is used to strap it down when it is transported from the factory, but these also work great to tow a streamliner motorcycle. ;-)
A quick look at the motors confirmed that they were toasted, so they stuffed the parachute into the tail cowling and towed me back to the pits. We took the motors apart and they were full of salt, which likely made them arc over inside. The motors are pretty well protected from the spray from the rear wheel, but we didn't expect the front wheel to spray salt into the motors. Since the windings and commutators were unharmed, we rebuilt the brush holders and replaced a few brushes and put them together again. Mike built a great looking salt guard from a spare piece of sheet metal.
Just when we were getting ready to run again, the wind started to pick up. The wind reached 18 mph and they closed the course. At 2 PM the wind still hadn't died down and there was a warning for a salt storm, so they called it a day and closed down the track for the day. Tomorrow is the last day of racing, but it is only half a day. Due to the shut down today the racing will be extended an hour to 3 PM, but it is still a short day. We will need to get in line early if we want to get more than one run. Hopefully the salt will stay out of the motors so we at least can get over 150 mph (241 km/h).
The motor breakdown was of course a little disappointing, and high winds made it even more disappointing, but we still had a pretty good day. The motor repair went smooth since we had all spare parts we needed and we didn't even yell at each other (which isn't all that unusual when things break down and we are in a time crunch). We had a nice lunch with hot dogs and veggie burgers on our little propane powered barbeque and Mike ran around like a house of fire and fixed broken things (like the generator door that was damaged in the wind the first night here). We have said "Mike - you are the man!" at least 10 times today. He is such a great guy. Smart, fun, handy and hard working. We couldn't ask for a better crew member. We also lent our welder and soldering iron to a couple of guys that had broken different parts of their motorcycles. We required a team shirt in exchange, but they didn't have any so I guess we have to be happy with just some good karma.
Anyway, we are ready to race again tomorrow and hoping for the salt and weather gods and goddesses to be with us.
// Eva (& Bill & Mike & Alicia)
P.S. For you that aren't a land speed geek, here is some basic about land speed racing. At this particular event there are two courses: one that is 5 miles long and called the "Mountain course" since it is closest to the mountains and one that is 9 miles long and called the "International course". The Mountain course have two miles to accelerate, one mile that is the measured mile and then two miles to slow down. The long course has about 4 miles to accelerate and 4 miles to slow down. To qualify for the long course you have to reach at least 175 mph on the short course, unless you are a streamliner. Streamliner typically accelerate so slow and have so high top speed that they automatically qualify for the long course.
The speed is measured as a average over a flying mile and a flying kilometer (the measured kilometer is actually inside the measured mile). If you are attempting to make an FIM record (FIM = Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) you first have to make a run that exceeds the current record, then you have to make a run in the opposite direction within 2 hours. If the average of the two runs exceeds the current record, you will get the new record.