Author: Ian Kerr Posted: 13 Nov 2013
Last year it was announced that two-time World Superbike Champion James Toseland will be spearheading a British attempt to break the motorcycle land speed record in September 2014 at the Bonneville Salt Flats, USA. However, more recently, an American team announced that they would also be attempting the break the record – using engines built at Triumph’s factory at Hinckley.
Toseland is keen to bring the accolade of the being the fastest two-wheeler in the world back to Britain, and is unfazed by the competition, but it seems ironic that the biggest threat to his dreams may come partially from the UK…
The American challenger the ‘Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing Castrol Rocket’ is actually being backed by the American arm of Triumph. According to their PR, the ‘Rocket’ is the world's most technologically-advanced streamlined motorcycle built like a fighter jet with 1,000 horsepower on tap’.
The machine, which is already undergoing testing at the Bonneville Salt Flats, has been built by aerodynamic engineer Matt Markstaller, with the engine being built by Bob Carpenter. It will be ridden by Daytona 200 winner Jason DiSalvo. The US project came about when the three discovered a shared interest in land speed record attempts and decided to create and race the world's fastest motorcycle. They describe the machine as ‘homage to the high-performance heritage of Castrol and Triumph’.
The 25 foot long carbon-fibremonocoque shell houses two turbocharged Rocket III engines putting out 500 foot pounds of torque at 9,000 rpm to go with the 1,000 horsepower. The team hopes this will be enough to propel the machine to over 400 mph on the salt. The methanol burner will run on Goodyear tyres specially designed for record breaking and synthetic Castrol oil.
The target for both the UK and US projects is the current American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) motorcycle land speed record of 376.156 mph, set in 2010, by Rocky Robinson with the Ack Attack streamliner.
In some ways the American project has more at stake as for many years the company legitimately claimed in their advertising that Triumph was "The World's Fastest Motorcycle”. First venturing onto the Salt Flats in 1946, the company held the title from 1955 to 1970 apart from a 33-day period with machines such as the Devil's Arrow,Dudek/Johnson Streamliner, the Gyronaut X1and the famous twin ridden by Johnny Allen to 214.5mph.
The success at the Salt Flats led of course to the name Bonneville being applied to the factories then brand-new twin-carb 650cc twin in 1959after pressure from the Americans. The timing was right and it went onto become the essence of motorcycle cool with advertising slogans such as “The Fastest Production Roadster” offering “The Highest Performance from a Standard Production Motorcycle.” The Bonneville of course went on to become one of the brands (and probably one of the world’s) most iconic motorcycles.
"This project is a celebration of Castrol and Triumph's motorsports heritage, innovation, courage and perseverance," said Greg Heichelbech, President and CEO, Triumph Motorcycles North America. "It's an incredible opportunity to simultaneously chase history and celebrate your heritage. Our hats are off to the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing team and all of the racers who make land speed racing such a colorful and meaningful sport."
According to DiSalvo, land speed racing is the purest form of motorsport and one of the most challenging. “It's about bringing all of your ingenuity, resources and determination together for a constant battle against the elements."