Marnitz and I really wanted to attend the second Kalahari Speedweek taking place at the famous Hakskeen Pan from 14 to 23 September 2013. Unfortunately we are not going to be able to make the trip. Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know that normally Marnitz takes all the photos. In fact we have only previously ever used photographs kindly supplied by others for three of our featured motorcycles. Because Speedweek is upon us and we really want to create some interest in the event, we have again bent the rules and have used photographs supplied by Triumph North America of their Castrol Rocket streamliner motorcycle taken two weeks ago at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Thank you Triumph for allowing us to use these stunning images. Retro Write Up promises to bring you photographs of our own homegrown Speedweek next year.
Many people incorrectly believe that the greatest movie made starring Anthony Hopkins’ is Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins’ greatest role is in fact in The World’s Fastest Indian. He plays the true life role of New Zealander Burt Munroe who eventually set his final world land speed record in 1967 at the age of 68 on his ever faithful 1920 Indian motorcycle. Burt’s record still stands at over 295km/h. He was unofficially clocked at 331km/h on the Indian! This story of a man’s obsession with being the fastest is a universal truth. Speed is addictive. To some going fast is never going fast enough. The Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is the ultimate destination for international speed freaks to break records.
Triumph powered, fully enclosed streamliners held the overall motorcycle land speed record from 1955 until 1970. The first Triumph methanol fuelled 650cc, parallel twin powered version called The Devil’s Arrow was built in Texas by a dealership simply because they did not appreciate the German NSU marque coming to Bonneville and setting the new world record. This rudimentary streamliner set a record of 305km/h. NSU regained the record for 33 days before the Texans returned with their redeveloped and renamed Texas Cee-Gar to regain the title. As an acknowledgement of their success at Bonneville, Triumph named their new performance model Bonneville. Triumph powered streamliners continuously held on to the record, setting a speed of 395km/h in 1966 which stood until 1970. The collapse of the British motorcycle industry in the 1970s meant the end of Triumph’s domination at Bonneville. Harley Davidson set a new record in 1970. Harley had long periods of success with interruptions by the Japanese manufacturers. The current record stands at 605km/h and is held by a streamliner named Ack Attack which is powered by 900hp two Hayabusa engines producing 900hp. Triumph aims to break this record.
The Castrol Rocket is powered by two turbocharged Triumph Rocket lll engines. The stroke of the motors has been changed to reduce the overall capacity to 2970cc;below the maximum limit allowed of 3000cc. It runs on methanol and uses Castrol 4T 10W40 full synthetic oil to lubricate the 1000hp. Jason DiSalvo intends breaking the 400mph (640km/h) mark on this new beast. No wonder he has such a huge grin on his face.
The aerodynamics of the Carbon Kevlar monocoque is aerodynamic engineer Matt Markstaller’s creation. Bob Carpenter is responsible for engine tuning. A project like this also requires a dedicated skilled team and vast financial resources. The week when these photos were taken was too windy for a record attempt. We wish the team luck in the near future.
Although not as famous or easy to pronounce as Bonneville, South Africa’s own Hakskeen Pan is also making an international name for itself. Andy Green intends breaking the 1000mph (1600km/h) mark at this site in 2015 with the rocket powered Bloodhound SSC. The Kalahari Speedweek is growing and will hopefully see more and more people making the annual pilgrimage to chase and break records in vehicles of all shapes and sizes.