It was a huge thrill to return home from the Bonneville Salt Flats with the motorcycle world land speed record once again. What makes it even more special is that my entire family, my wife Tricia, my daughter Kristin, my stepsons Mario and Ryan and even my mom and dad were there to share it with me. My brother Buddy and his new companion Bernadette were also there. Buddy has been with me from the start, when the first team I drove for didn't think it was necessary that I have my own, properly fitting fireproof race suit to wear in case my machine caught fire, which they tend to do on occasion.
The picture on the right is exactly what I'm talking about. My wife, bless her heart, has stood beside me since we've been together. My racing scares the hell out of her. She's been there when a fellow competitor drew his last breath, or when the driver for a team pitted beside us was life-flighted away after losing control of his machine while chasing his dream. If it weren't for her I wouldn't have ran this season. She knew how bad I wanted the record back; she told me she thought I could do it and that she was behind me if I wanted to go again. Gotta love her...
My niece Nikki and a handful of close friends also came out to lend a hand and offer their support. Paul Iwanaga, RC Jones, Scott Jensen, Ed Chamberlain and several others came all the way out to the Utah desert to spend the week on the salt flats; to eat bad casino food, and to get sun burnt in places not meant to see the sun. My dad brought a group of friends from Hawthorne Nevada. His health isn't what it used to be, so the fact that he even came was more special to me than he will ever know. Those guys know how to have a good time too. They set up camp next to the timing tower. They had their coolers, umbrellas and lawn chairs, and tossed horseshoes in between runs while enjoying each other's company.
One thing I found interesting, the longer I do this, the more work it becomes. My average weight is around 180, but my ideal weight, ie., the weight I'm most comfortable in the bike is 175. This year it took me nearly 3 months to get in fighting trim. I lost the weight, felt strong, physically and mentally, but it just used to come so much easier! I guess I do like having the racing as the carrot I use to force myself to get in shape. That and the fact the my wife just quit feeding me about the last week before we left for Bonneville!
Somehow during the meet my mom noticed a tear in my racing suit. Like old times she got out a needle and thread and found some matching cloth and took care of me. How lucky can a guy be?
The meet itself was a struggle from the beginning. Handling issues, an engine swap, and a damaged transmission had us hustling the entire meet. The team worked hard, burning the midnight oil on several occasions. In the end it must have been meant to be. We upped the record to 376.363 mph (pending ratification by the FIM) We had an official exit speed on the final run of 394 mph, and unofficially, our data logger showed we exceeded 400 mph before deceleration. This is a personal triumph for me, our team, and of course my family and friends.
I was recently asked what I get for doing this. (as in, what kind of reward) I told this person the reward is in doing it. It's not about the money, the trophies, or the notoriety. Its about pushing yourself to do something outside your comfort zone because its important to you. Whether you succeed or not isn't what's important. What is is that you gave it your all; you left nothing on the table when it was all said and done. When the Top 1 Ack Attack team loaded everything up at the end of the meet, even our table was broken. They used it all and went home smiling.
Thanks for the memories...