Countdown to the shootout - obstacles overcome

The countdown continues, only days before another attempt at the land speed record.

As those whose journeys take them on the road to speed week, the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials and even the Mike Cook’s Bonneville Shootout know, all that glitters ain’t salt and the road there is almost always a long and challenging one indeed.

As if just breaking a world record isn’t enough of a wrench, life has a way of reminding everyone that there’s really no point to a whole lot of salt without a little pepper thrown in for good measure.

Just ask Al Lamb and his team.

With 40 years of racing and several world records under his leathers, he knows all too well that the day doesn’t give passes to someone just because they’re doing something mortally immortal. After all, even Superman has to go to the dry cleaners every once in a while.

“Perhaps it makes the salt a little sweeter,” quips Lamb, as he recounts not only some of the larger obstacles he and his team have endured in the past, but also some that he’s witnessed – and even assisted with – this year, both on and off the salt.

“We’ve had aerodynamic issues that we’ve been able to address by lengthening the bike by six inches,” he said. “Unfortunately, by doing so it moved the center of gravity, which created a new problem – a noticeable, and debilitating, oscillation around 160 mph that we addressed by actually building a weight box in the front of the bike and filling it with 60 lbs. of lead.”

And the challenges aren’t all race-related, either.

“Take last week, for example; we didn’t do anything at speed week,” he said. “We could have run the old bike, but the salt wasn’t that good, and it definitely wasn’t good enough to set a record on, so we concentrated on trying to get the new bike sorted out and handling right, which took us all of speed week and BUB to really get squared. Prior to speed week, the new bike had never even been ridden in the parking lot.”

And if anyone starts to feel like they’re being singled out, Lamb is quick to point out there’s plenty to go around.

“During speed week, this guy came up with his girlfriend from Calgary, Canada,” he said. “Really nice guy. He had a new BMW 1000 to run against the production record – Leslie’s [Porterfield] record.

“Well, he got to speed week and they wouldn’t approve his leathers. He had the latest, greatest Alpine leathers, and they wouldn’t let him ride because they were deemed a fire hazard,” he said. “So he ended up borrowing pants from us; he couldn’t run his wheels because they’re carbon fiber, so we’re trying to help him out so he can get out on the salt.

“It happens to us all, and if it’s not the road, it’s the run,” he said, “It’s all just part of the experience.”

Lamb and his team begin their trek to the 2013 Mike Cook’s Bonneville Shootout on September 12 – ready and prepared for every challenge.

Al Lamb

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About this article
Series Other bike
Drivers Al Lamb
Article type Special feature
Tags al lamb, bonneville, crash, honda, speed record