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You can't win 'em all! Lessons learned at Motorcycle Speed Trials

by Justin Lorraine on November 12, 2012

Success stories are great and they’re the stories everybody wants to be able to tell. Racing is a test, with racers pushing their machines to the limit in order to get a passing mark. After all, almost setting a record is the same as not setting a record. Sometimes you win, but sometimes one of thousand things that could go wrong does go wrong, and you don’t. It’s how you deal with that situation that shows your measure as a racer. Will you consider a loss to be a defeat, or will you pick yourself up and look forward to the next opportunity to win.

Here is a letter from John Endrizzi from the Joe Taylor Racing Team to Eric Wangen, the S&S product line manager for Flathead Power®. Eric provided support to the team by sending some much needed FHP engine parts the build the knucklehead race engine.

Bonneville Knuckle
Hi Eric, I wish to send a very big thank you for all you have done in getting the Joe Taylor Racing Team off the ground. Without the S&S FHP sponsorship, our Land Speed Racing efforts would be dead. There was a whirlwind of activity at Terry Spears Gunners Cycle shop in Webster Wi. prior to BUB. Most of the fabrication on “The Goose” (formerly EL Bonnie Knuck) had been completed over the winter months. Lee Wickstrom had a full plate when he stepped up to do our motor build. He spent many hours wrenching after he should have been home with his wife. We took delivery of the motor about 12 days before taking off for Bonneville. We had arranged to do Dyno testing at Fairbault HD. The dyno operator called the day before we completed the bike to say that he had blown up the dyno. I made a frantic call to my friend Pat Lehmann who is the dyno tech at Rochester HD. He volunteered to run The Goose at the dealership on his day off. A baseline was established and the bike loaded up, leaving for Wendover two days later. A blown out trailer tire made the trip extra exciting! I flew out and joined the Team on Sat, Aug 25. We spent Sat and much of Sunday preparing The Goose for tech. After passing tech Sunday afternoon we had a freak thunderstorm, which left 2 inches of standing water on the Salt. Racing resumed Tuesday morning! We made our first pass that day after waiting in the starting queue for over 4 hours. By the time Terry set off from the starting line a very brisk crosswind had come up. He found the bike being blown from one side of the course almost hitting a marker flag on the opposite side. This was in the measured mile. He backed off the throttle. Later, he said that he was at 1/2 throttle and accelerating when the gust of wind hit him. The result was 115.929 mph. This was enough to break the Sid Biberman Vincent’s standing record of 109.079. By the time that we got the bike back to the pit, the wind speed had not died at all. It was decided not to make the return pass, which would be needed to post a new record. The next morning it was another long wait for our turn to run. Terry got off the line in good fashion and the bike sounded good thru 1-3rd gears. At the top of third, a little change in the motors rhythm was heard. While on the way down the return road, we heard the announcer say that our bike had run 59 MPH! Once back at the pit we found the rear cylinder had a holed piston. That was end of racing for The Goose! As I write this, the motor is still together. We are taking the motor down to Lee’s Speed Shop tomorrow for teardown. We suspect that the hole was NOT caused by a lean or detonation condition. More on this when we are finished with the examination.
 
Well that’s a brief run down. I’m thinking of making a scouting trip to Wilmington, Ohio on Sept 29-30 for the ECTA Throttle Nation Bike only Land Speed Races. This would be in preparation for running The Goose there next April. We are down right now, but far from out!
 
Thanks again Eric!

John K. Endrizzi, Joe Taylor, and Terry Spears

Topics: Racing, News

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