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200 MPH revisited





We walk around the pits at el Mirage and see a cacphony of cars, trucks and bikes. One guy has a 100 CC Yamaha two stroke (pictured). He's hitting speeds of 68 or so. Everyone asks his son, who probably weighs 95 pounds, why he doesn't ride it. At the other end of the spectrum,a rookie brought his 500 CC Honda twin and ran it. God bless him, but he must have weighed 280.
John Noonan set the fast speed of the weekend on his Suzuki Hayabusa, attaining a speed of 252 MPH!Looking at his bike, it carried two lead blocks attached to both sides of the swingarms, totaling around fifty pounds. Apparently getting traction is more important than overall weight. Go figure.
There are old flathead roadsters that have been running over this lakebed for many decades. And there are exotics. One streamliner bike (pictured) is not much higher than my knees, and must be eight feet long or more. Technically, it's in the sidecar division, if you notice the little winglet on the side, it covers a wheel. Really handy to help keep the bike steady from the start, as the rider can't use his feet. They have a girl ride it, because (a) she is really light, and (b) she's small enough to fit. I saw them jam her in there, and there is not much room. Most guys (and girls, really) wouldn't fit. Her helmet is crushed down agaisnt her chest, and she's inside the body, with the view between her knees, out the front window.
Speaking of windows, one streamliner car had a jet type cockpit window that slid straight forward for access. Looking closely at the hardware, I asked, "Aren't those drawer glides that operate the window?" Sure enough, they were!
Really, the people who run at el Mirage are much less racers than engineers, inventors, and tinkerers. The run takes much less than a minute, and the operator usually just wicks it on and goes straight. They spend most of their time coming up with clever things to make their vehicles scoot across this planet faster.
And faster is what it's all about. On my runs, I would run it up to the rev limiter and shift, and when I go to the top gear, continued to look for one more. So even 180 is not enough.
When I went to the timing window and got my ticket, I looked at my speed and said, "Wow. No matter how fast you go, it's just not fast enough, is it?"
"Nope," he answered and pointed to my ticket, "but that is pretty darn fast."

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