One body, steering two wheels, powered by one engine shouldn’t really be able to go 255 miles an hour without consequences. Yet the result on a drag strip during the 2011 Manufacturers Spring Cup race at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Adel, Georgia (near Valdosta), after the deployment of a small parachute accompanied by heating brakes, was a full stop.
Top Fuel motorcycle rider Korry Hogan safely set a new speed record with a 6.04 ET at 255 mph and then backed it up with a second run at 6.03 at 254.62 mph.
Big smiles from the crowd, rider and crew followed the display of both of these incredible speeds.
Hogan commented about his Top Fuel Suzuki: “When you get on one of these that makes 1400, 1500 horsepower, it accelerates zero to 200 in three seconds,” Hogan said.
“We ran the first 250 mph pass in less than six seconds. Most people can’t really grasp what that really is.”
Larry “Spiderman” McBride owns the quickest elapsed time record, a 5.79 ET at 245.36 mph, and he described his Top Fuel Kawasaki: “We go out and run in the fives like it’s no tomorrow,” McBride said.
“It’s incredible. I got an electric bike that runs as fast as my original Top Fuel bike now.”
Those incredible speeds don’t sound safe, but proper equipment, an emergency vehicle and monitored track conditions provide the best environment for skilled teams. It may not be apparent, but drivers on public highways face perilous conditions nearly every day without helmets or clear pavement.
One fast and hazardous example that includes two street motorcycles was shared with Hogan, McBride and avid motorcycle rider, NASCAR’s Kyle Petty.
Recently this reporter was returning from the IZOD IndyCar Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Fla., going 70 mph on Interstate Four, east of Tampa. Traffic in four lanes normally zooms along in that area, as it has few exits leading up to the connection with north and southbound I-75.
Sundays aren’t normal.
“When slower traffic bunched up in my path, I slowed up a bit and got ready to pull around,” Drum said.
“Before I hit the pedal, I looked in my mirrors for approaching traffic."
“In my right mirror I saw two motorcycles darting through the most distant cars. Having snapped images of high-speed race cars and motorcycles at racetracks for a dozen plus years, I knew they were way beyond the limit."
“I held my line for a few seconds as they approached and swerved around me like I was parked. Both riders weaved through that bunched traffic ahead, between cars and trucks where no lanes were open at dangerous speeds.”
Question to Hogan, McBride and Petty: How fast do you think they were going and what’s your comment on this daredevil public display?
Hogan’s guess was swift.
"Fast enough to get thrown in jail in most states," Hogan estimated.
"I’m not one to point fingers. I’ve done every stupid thing that I don’t condone now. You get 10 guys on bikes and you think you are invincible. You’re not. You take a risk and it’s not a calculated risk."
"We understand that drag racing is not safe, but it’s a calculated risk. There’s an ambulance. We’re all in leathers. We’re all in gear."
Hogan blitzed speed records on a motorcycle, but he reminds motorists of the dangers of street speed.
"You go 140 on the street, there’s too many variables—a car pulls out, a squirrel comes out, a deer—you’re dead. You can’t take an impact at 140 mph into a back of a car going 55. You’re going 100 when you hit it."
Larry "Spiderman" McBride AND Top Fuel Kawasaki guessed their speed.
"Way over 100 mph," McBride said.
"Don’t do it. If you’re going to race and speed do it on a racetrack, absolutely do not do it on the street. The end result is not good. It’s not if you’re going to get hurt—it’s when and how bad—and if you can live through it."
"I do a lot of talks to kids and at military bases. I strongly recommend do not race on the street. We have racetracks that you can go to. Definitely do not race on the street."
Speed can be deceptive. Long-time NASCAR driver legend Kyle Petty, the organizer for Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, knows velocity better than most and explained how relative speed can be.
"It’s hard to tell how fast anyone is going," Petty said.
"The closure rate varies so much, but obviously they were going 10 or 15 miles faster than you if they caught up and came by you that quick. The closure rate at five is not big. The closure rate at 10 is not big. At 15 it looks like it’s 500. That’s hard to say, but they had to be going 85 or 90 to pass you at a rate like that."
Petty was quick to talk about caution on highways.
"The highway is a public area," Petty said.
"It’s supposed to be used responsibly. I don’t care if you’re in a car, a big truck or a motorcycle, it’s not your personal playground. It’s not to do stunts on. It’s not to run 100 in a 55 or anything like that. That’s totally irresponsible. That’s not what it’s for."
"If you want to go do that, then go to a track. There’s plenty of tracks around and plenty of safe places to go play and have fun, if you want to have fun on a bike or a car."
It takes guts to race on a racetrack, and safety precautions there promote the chance for continued visceral moments in every racers future.
It’s suggested the advice of those who have routinely raced at least twice the rate of most who speed on the highway should be headed.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Quotes derived from interviews and press releases.
Photo Credit: Dwight Drum at Racetake.com
For Kyle Petty Charity Ride 2011 information go to www.kylepettycharityride.com