Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016
Every August since 1949 (weather permitting), the Southern California Timing Association has organized the Bonneville National Speed Trials at the famed Salt Flats in Wendover Utah. This event is a week long all out festival of speed for cars, motorcycles, and all sorts of wheeled vehicles. A vast array of race teams attend, from well equipped (and financed) factory sponsored entries to shoestring budget home built machines, and everything in between.
Triumph motorcycles have a long history with the salt, as the most popular and fastest street model was named after the Bonneville salt flats in 1959. The World’s Fastest Motorcycle title was held by Triumph from 1956 to 1970. Since 1951 during SCTA events there have been Triumph twins racing at Speed Week. This August was no different.
Triumph 350, 500, 650, and 750 Pre Unit and Unit twins were raced on Gas, Alcohol, and Nitromethane.
Seven new Land Speed records were set by Six Vintage Triumph motorcycles over the course of the week.
I was tuning an engine I built for a Swiss race Team, who were running a 1955 650 T110 engine in the Vintage 750 gas class. Using a pair of 389 “chopped” monobloc carbs with matchbox remote floats on the original iron head, the top average speed over the measured mile was 126.832 mph. After a few tuning runs a new speed record was established of 123.534 mph for the A-VG 750 class.
Bonneville can be a tough place. Even the best prepared teams often find that something happens that they weren’t ready for. It could be mechanical parts breaking, unexpected wind, traction problems, or a host of other issues all in 100 degree heat with no shade.
It is every gearhead’s dream to find out what top speed potential is in their machine. Sometimes you set records but still don’t truly find out. There is always next year though…
For more information on Bonneville Racing see here