Article By: Buell Bros & Sisters Racing
Photos By: Scooter Grubb & BMST Racers
Originally Published In The February 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
The Bonneville Salts Flats is the place to be in August! Buell Brothers racing has been going to the Flats since 1995, and we don’t see us stopping anytime soon. The Bonneville Salt Flats has been the mecca for racers for over 100 years. Anyone can ride their bikes fast on asphalt highways or sticky prepared drag strips and brag about what their ‘speedo’ is telling them. In Bonneville, you are fighting the lack of traction, wind, salt conditions, density altitude, and high altitude: on the Flats, you’re in the middle of nowhere, tuning, by yourself, all of this is happening while you are being timed accurately. Even with all these challenges, it is still the place to be when it comes to proving speed
The Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials are the last week of August, and it is strictly a motorcycle event. It starts on a Saturday and ends with a banquet on Thursday night. The entire week is jammed packed with racing, grill outs, dinners, and good times. This year was one for the books. We all had the pleasure of possibly witnessing history in the making as we watched Al Lamb and Ralph Hudson push their limits. They are the two fastest sit on motorcyclists in the world. And they were competing to see who could be the first to reach 300 mph. They set this goal many years ago and have been running towards it ever since. They even made the trip to a salt flat in Bolivia to try to make it happen. This year was the first time that they were both at BMST trying for the 300 mph. They both did a few shakedown runs to test the course. But by the middle of the week, both said no, not this year. It was such a cool experience to watch the two fastest bikes run on the salt back to back while waiting to see if history would be made that day. Hopefully, those two will be back next year and will hit the 300- mph mark at Bonneville on a siton motorcycle!
We all love to see the fastest bikes on the salt do their thing, but for the most part, the racers at BMST are the average Joe’s. For example, Lewis and Katie of Killer Fish engineering from Ohio ran two bikes; one in the 50CC P-PC class and the other in the 500CC A/BF. They are a husband and wife team going after records together. Another racer was Jaylin Billig; she runs in the 175CC M-CG class. She has been racing at Bonneville for some time now and pushes her bike to its max every year and hits a speed of 79.495 mph! She was able to qualify for a record multiple times, but unfortunately, she was unable to make a clean return run to set the record. Getting a record isn’t easy. Kay Paterson of Washington also runs a bike in the 500cc M-CG class. She had a very trying week of pushing her bike to get a new record, as well. Fran Carpio of Colorado runs a duel engine Suzuki that looks like it is straight out of “Mad Max” in the A-CF 3000cc class. He was able to set a record of 115.089 mph! Jay Allen of Arizona runs in the A-PBG 2000cc class and was able to set a record of 192.386 mph. The Buell Brothers bikes generally land in the middle of the bikes on the salt.
This year the Buell brothers pit was a bit more exciting than usual for two reasons. One was because of Ashley Woodford, who rides the Buell Sisters bike, a 95’ Buell S2 Thunderbolt that she rides in the P-PG 1350 class. She was going for her first-ever record. She tried for it last year but ended up blowing up her motor pretty bad on her return run. When it came to getting her bike back to running condition for 2019, we can only say thank goodness for the help from Kibblewhite, No Laws Motorcycles, Biltwell, Queen Creek Flat Track, Leinewebers, Twin Power, Worldwide Bearings, Powerhouse Cycles, and Andrews. This year she was determined to make it happen. Her first few runs were to check the track and see if the bike was ready to go fast after fixing it from last year. The record she was going after was 126.293mph held my B. Johns from 2018. She was able to up the record a total of four times between her 16 passes! By the end of the week, the final record ended up being 136.282!
It was a hard week of wet salt, wind changes, heat, and figuring out the best riding position. The next big factor adding to pour excitement was Drew Woodford of Buell Brothers racing. Drew rode the half-brother bike, a modified 97’ 883 Sportster. There is nothing better than a little competition on the salt, and Keoko Kaolelopono was there to give it. The two went back and forth all week! The record started at 139.492 mph for the MPSPF 1000 class, and it went up from there. Unfortunately, early in the week, Keoki melted a piston. In true Bonneville fashion, Buell Brothers offered any assistance they needed to get him down the track. Drew then upped the record on Tuesday to 142.8 mph. Keoki, with the help of his father-in-law Chris Rivas was able to get his engine rebuilt and went out and upped it by a tenth of a mile per hour to 142.9. Drew accepted the challenge and laid down a two-way average of 146.52 mph. Keoki wasn’t going to let Drew get the record that easy. So, he got back in line to try again. Keoki was able to make a pass of 144 and blew up the motor for a second time on the last day of racing. Drew went back out a few more times trying to get a little more out of his 883 Sportster but due to the temperature and humidity, there was no way to get more speed. The bike actually was getting slower with every pass. The record ended up at Drews average of 146.52 mph. His record wouldn’t have happened without the help from Lane Splitters Garage, Pistol Pete’s Custom Cycles, Biltwell, The Chop Parlor, Twin Power, and Worldwide Bearings.
As you can tell, the Buell Brother pit was busy with Drew and Ashley going after their records, but we were also working with experienced bike riders. Buell Brothers racing is dedicated to introducing the next generation of racers. This year we had four riders. They ranged from a veteran flat tracker to a rider of only a few years. They were all able to get two passes each and got the Bonneville experience. They each went over 100 mph with a top speed of 135 mph. The bike they all rode was a 00’ S3 Thunderbolt. None of this could have happened without the help of the crew and Twin Power, Biltwell, Lowbrow, Arlen Ness, Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda, R&B Embroidery, and The Chop Parlor. Along with the racing that goes on all week, there is also the Tuesday night Legends event. It is quite the experience. You get to hear the stories of some of the greats: Pete and Jackie Hill, Jay Allan, Tom “Clause” Anderson, Micah McCloskey, Roosevelt Lackey, Larry Coleman, and Al Lamb were the legends for this year’s event. The event is put on by our very own Tom “Clause” Anderson. Each legend will tell you how they got into racing, their achievements, learning experiences, and you can also ask them questions and truly pick their brains about racing. The night is one not to miss!
After a long week of racing, there is a banquet on Thursday night and is the perfect ending. This year it was held at the newly remodeled Officers club at the historic Wendover Airport. The banquet is a pretty special event because you get to see everyone dressed up, and you get to hear what everyone did for the week. While you are racing, you miss out on knowing what others are accomplishing, goals reached, and some still out there. This is where everyone catches up. This year a few of the awards went to Skylar Albrecht – Fritz Kott, Erin Sills – Top Speed of the Meet, Ashley Woodford – SheMoto Scholarship, Erin Okonek – Lucky Charms, Simon Edwards – Lucky Charms, and Team Shelby- Lucky Charms. There is also an auction to help raise funds for a museum to be built for Bonneville. Hopefully, we will see this happen soon! Bonneville is one of those places that once you go, you have to keep going. It is like no other place you have ever been and the people you meet become your instant family. We can’t wait to see what next year brings, and hopefully, it will mean more records!!