Go Naked, Or Go Home

Monday, April 20, 2009 Don Smith

Although Dragbike.com has long been the source of drag racing news and events for many years, we have also brought you a variety of stories related to motorcycle land speed racing. Dating back to 2001 we have been bringing you various project bikes as well as product tests and breaking news in this sport. Like drag racers, land speed racers are usually grass roots riders just like you. People building bikes and engines in their garage and basements across the country have become the norm in both of these sports and it is that spirit that caught our attention when we witnessed this incredible story.

Street riders all across the world burn up the internet and talk about this subject. At bike nights they brag to their buddies, co-workers and anyone else that will listen. What are they all bragging about you ask? Going fast!! Specifically they all lay claim to having gone 200mph. In actuality, the number of people that have gone a certified 200mph is a lot smaller than you may have been led to believe.

The story we are here to bring you today however is not about going 200mph, nor is it about going 225mph or even 230mph. Those milestones were reached a few years ago. In the post Hayabusa world of land speed racing for open wheel motorcycles (meaning non-streamliners) there were only a few real landmarks of note. One of these being Lee Shierts going 200mph on a mostly stock naturally aspirated Hayabusa back in 1999. However, Lee was not the first person to go 200mph in the standing mile. Both Mark Mosian and Peter Jones beat him to the punch in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Mosian on a turbocharged bike and Jones on a Bimota.

The next big milestone would come a few years later in 2001 when Scott Guthrie went over 200 mph on a naked Hayabusa in the standing mile at Maxton. The naked class means that the farings were removed in front of the rider leaving it with a non-aerodynamic profile, which of course makes it more difficult to achieve these speeds.

042009 Bill-waits

Another milestone for motorcycle land speed racing was in 2005 when Lee Shierts became the first man to go 250mph. Lee did it on a fully faired street- going Hayabusa owned by Rich Yancy. Many thought it would be the final frontier because the numbers just didn't make sense for an open wheel motorcycle to go 300mph, and nobody would ever go 250mph on a naked bike right? Before you answer that, let me introduce you to Bill Warner.

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Bill currently resides near Tampa, Florida but is originally from upstate New York. Bill started land speed racing in September of 2006 on a Yamaha V-Max and gained entry into the ECTA (East Coast Timing Association) 200mph club in March of 2007.

Since then Bill has quickly risen to the very top of the motorcycle land speed racing world. After the Yamaha V-Max, Bill jumped on a 2000 Suzuki Hayabusa and kept building on his stack of records. This bike originally built by Mile Legget as an AMA Pro-Street bike for the AMA Dragbike series; Bill stripped it to the frame and started over. Bill's passion for naked bikes traces back to his childhood. He grew up like most kids riding anything that had two wheels and an engine. Instead of migrating to the normal full faired sportbikes, Bill clung to his childhood roots and kept riding naked bikes. Therefore, part of the Hayabusa prep included removing all the bodywork while building with the" normal" 550+ horsepower engine.

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Though Bill's day job as a marine biologist includes running his own tropical fish farm, he happens to be pretty handy with a wrench as well. So when it came time to do the engine work, Bill took it upon himself. Bill's source of horsepower is a RCC Ultra turbo kit on top of a fully built Hayabusa engine. Inside the engine is a special set of JE turbo pistons. They are attached to Falicon rods and a Falicon crank. Bill selected Ward Performance for his ported head and R&D did the transmission work. MTC was the supplier of choice for the billet locker clutch. Unlike many land speed bikes, Bill chooses a 6" over swingarm by JMC and a very wide 8.5" wheel with a Pirelli 240 series tire. The bike uses Carrozzeria aluminum wheels front and rear to hold up the rigors of land speed racing. Bill utilizes high speed ceramic bearings throughout the bike from Performance Bearings. Bill says "The rolling resistance difference with and without these bearings is really incredible, and there is no way I would ever run without them now".

Bill's foray with the Hayabusa took him quickly from the low 200s he was running on the V-Max to speeds approaching fully faired turbo bikes. In fact, by the end of the 2008 season he had already gone 246 mph at the Maxton Monster Mile. With the current track record of 260.288mph, many thought that Bill had already gone as fast as a naked bike would ever go. Most people including yours truly thought that the aerodynamics would not support anyone cracking the 250mph barrier on a naked bike.

Going into the 2009 season, Bill freshened up his motor and headed to the Texas Mile in Goliad for the season opener. Texas planned a three day event with racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday which promised Bill many opportunities on the super smooth 1 mile course. At the end of the first day of racing Bill had already run a very impressive 246.129mph pass. Saturday came and conditions were very favorable for land speed racing. Bill lined up for another pass as I stood and watched him approach the start line. The smell of race gas hung heavy in the air and I could not help but noticed the sign on the right side of the runway that read "No Speed Limit"

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Bill must have seen the sign too because as soon as the starter pointed down the track indicating he was clear to proceed, he let it all hang out. I heard him rip through the gears as the big Pirelli dug into the runway. Within seconds he was too far away to see or hear, but the announcement was clearly audible when the track announcer made the call of 254.449mph. Not only was this a track record for all motorcycles at the Texas Mile, it was also the first and only naked motorcycle to ever break the magic barrier of 250mph. Scott Guthrie and Wayne Pollack (founders of the 250mph record club) were both on hand to welcome Bill into the exclusive club. The fact that Bill had done it on a naked bike made it even more special.

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To put this into perspective, there have only been a total of 5 motorcycle riders in the world to set a motorcycle record over 250mph in the standing mile. Incidentally, all of them rode a Suzuki Hayabusa. In order to give credit to that club we will name them for historical purposes: Lee Shierts (Maxton), Wayne Pollack (Maxton), Scott Guthrie (Texas), Charlie Anstaett (Maxton), and now Bill Warner (Texas). Jason McVicar also holds an over 250mph record at Bonneville which of course is much longer than the one mile runways at Maxton or Texas.

Every time a big milestone such as this is reached, journalists say this has to be the end. When the first bike to make 100hp was released, they said surely there can't be more. When the first production bike ran a sub 10 second quarter mile the same thing was said. Even though all those statements turned out to be false, I am here to tell you now race fans, that I just witnessed the final barrier broken in open wheel motorcycle land speed racing.

In order to prove me wrong someone will have to go 300 mph on a fully faired, non streamliner and I just don't see that in our future. So please join me in welcoming Bill to the unofficial club of one; the 250mph naked club.

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