Nope. No Soap.
Well, it went down to the wire. The hope was that today’s spectacular sun and breeze would dry out mile 7, which is about where the two-wheelers would pop their chutes at max speed. It just refused to dry out, though. Mike Cook, the organizer of the event, was forced to cancel it for good for 2013. If it won’t be safe, it can’t happen. How safe one can be while approaching 400 MPH is debatable, but there’s just no point shoveling in more risk.
So, I wandered around and saw a lowered and huffed (turbocharged) VW New Beetle and wandered over to find its crew in good spirits despite the cancellation. Racers are a tenacious bunch, and seem to roll with the punches more easily than many. As a rule, they’re also welcoming by nature – you can just barge in and join them without the usual “who’s this guy?” looks. There was a bright young lady among them who definitely sounded like she worked for Volkswagen in some capacity. Maybe just a dealership, but it didn’t sound like it.
Only the cycles had a chance of running, and one was there because of the need for publicity photos. A British video crew was filming the current record-holding motorcycle crew as they got the streamliner out of its trailer. That bike is the Ack Attack, owned and built by Mike Akatiff of Ack Technologies, an avionics company. Most recently piloted by Rocky Robinson, this oversized pencil reached a speed of 376 MPH and change in 2012. It has not been without its crashes and rolls along the way, and that’s in good track conditions. Some contraption called the BUB Lucky 7 has been its nemesis along the way, often taking away the record. The video crew was recruited by the Ack Attack’s sponsor, Top 1 Oil. Never heard of ’em? They’re a small American independent specializing in ultra-high performance synthetic lubricants, and are actually better known outside the U.S.
The goal is to be the first bike to hit 400 MPH, so the cancellation was a necessary disappointment. The bike itself is stoked by two turbocharged aluminum 1,299 cc Suzuki four-cylinder engines. Max boost is 30 PSI, which is a lot to contend with as far as durability goes, to my way of thinking. The result is about 900 horsepower. How in hell do they feed that through one lonely tire on packed but not solid salt? No wonder they wanted 11 miles of space available.
Actually, the trailer was as interesting as the bike! It looks like an ordinary trailer with hoops to support some canvas for weather protection. Nope. They are the primary structural members. The bike is hoisted up on cables with an electric winch first, then four steel crossmembers below that reinforce the frame are removed. The bike is lowered to the ground, and the trailer is rolled forward, leaving the bike solo, perched on its little outrigger wheels. The video crew had like 3 cameras set up, and once the bike hit the ground, had everyone roll the trailer free. Not just once, but four times. By take four they were satisfied.
As for me, it’s time to plan a departure. I’m not sure of the timing yet because considerable rain is due Sunday, and it’ll take me awhile to get this mess packed up and ready for travel. You can’t leave if you’ve blown over half a day prepping and are facing a long drive into unfamiliar areas and campsites. Plus, I much prefer to engage travel mode with fully-charged batteries, which means leaving the next day after charging is completed, without further use. Full sun helps. They will sulfate much less if they sit traveling for several days when fully charged vs being discharged. It’s a lifespan thing.