As you read this …
As you read this, Valerie Thompson and her Team 7 and Land Speed Record legend and AMA Hall-of-Famer Denis Manning are headed to the 28th annual Speed Week competition (March 12-19) at the Lake Gairdner salt flats in Southern Australia.
Their mission? After some Speed Week shake-down runs, the plan is to mount a serious challenge on the existing Motorcycle Land Speed Record during three subsequent days of FIM sanctioned World Speed Trials racing on March 17, 18 and 19.
One of the remotest areas on the planet, where WiFi and cell phone signals go to die, AMD spoke with Denis Manning the day before he was due to fly out, and he told us “the reports are good. We’re being told that there are 12 miles of perfect salt waiting for us, so provided the work we’ve been doing on the bike pays off, we should have every opportunity to go fast. Really fast!
“The bike is already in Australia and has passed through customs and all the other formalities. I’ll be hiring a truck in Adelaide and then taking the streamliner to hook up with the full ‘Team 7’ and MN8 Films/P51 Pictures crews.
“The work done on the bike has been extensive, and as far as we can tell, the engine is in a first class state of tune and the aerodynamics are great, so … who knows, we’ll see.
“We have a great rider in Valerie, who is already no less than the world’s fastest woman on a motorcycle, an accolade she garnered in the ‘7’ Streamliner no less. We have a great crew, and I genuinely think we have a great opportunity. But we’ll only know when we know. I’ve spent my entire life chasing the dream, achieving it, chasing it again and so on, so I know better than anyone to take nothing for granted and know the myriad factors and details that can catch you out.
“However, let’s just say that we wouldn’t be entering into such a huge and expensive undertaking if we didn’t feel we were ready!”
Formally known as the Bub 7 (the 7th Land Speed Record Streamliner that Manning has built) and previously piloted by Chris Carr, the team owners are John Jans and Joe Harrelson, with designer Denis Manning as team leader.
Originally designed and built from a clean sheet of paper specifically to set a new motorcycle land speed record, at the heart of the bike is a 500 hp, 3,000 cc dual overhead cam, 4-valve, turbocharged V4 engine, mounted in a 21 ft carbon fiber monocoque frame with MoTeC power command and methanol fuel.
That’s the ‘go’, but how about the stop? Well, if the three parachutes (Hi Speed, Main and Reserve and six-piston PM brakes aren’t going to do the job, then it’s a good job they’ve got 12 miles to play with! However, with more miles available at Lake Gairdner than has been the case at Bonneville for decades, and three World Land Speed Records already under its belt (setting a top return average of 367.382 mph in 2006), Manning and the 7 Streamliner have the pedigree, the team and the pilot with the experience, and they appear to have the salt – all that is needed now is that great unknown, some luck!
The record they are after is the 376.363 mph mark set by Rocky Robinson in the twin Hyabusa engined ‘Ack Attack’ – just some 10 mph faster than the 7s best. Thompson set her fastest time piloting the Team ‘7’ Streamliner at the 2016 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials with a speed of 304.263 mph (489.663 km/h), becoming the first female driver in a two-wheeled vehicle over 300 mph on what was only her fifth run in a streamlined motorcycle. From Harley-Davidsons to BMWs, Thompson currently holds seven land speed records.