Just four men have held the outright motorcycle record in the last forty years, all of them American and all of them have raced at over 300mph.
In 1975 the legendary Don Vesco became the first man to ride at over 300mph, recording 302.928mph with his Yamaha Silver Bird, three years later with a new machine, the Kawasaki Lightning Bolt, Vesco set a further two records reaching 318.598mph.
He later turned his attention to the outright wheel driven land speed record ultimately becoming the fastest man on four wheels with his gas turbine powered car Turbinator which still holds the record today with an average speed of 458.44mph set in 2001.
Sadly Vesco passed away in 2002 aged 63 years. He set a total of eighteen motorcycle records and six wheeldriven car records in a unique speed career.
Twelve years later on 14th July 1990 Dave Campos bettered Vesco’s two wheeled record with the Easyriders twin Ruxton-
2006 brought renewed interest in the motorcycle record with two teams vying for the coveted prize. The coming years witnessed a battle at Bonneville for the ultimate speed on two wheels much like Breedlove and Arfons had batted the Outright Land Speed Record backwards and forwards in the sixties. The two protagonists this time were Rocky Robinson and Chris Carr.
On 3rd September 2006 Rocky Robinson raised the record to 343.127mph riding the Mike Akatiff designed and built twin turbocharged 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa powered Ack Attack. However, just two days later Chris Carr pushed the speed past 350mph on board Dennis Manning’s 3litre turbocharged V-
Rocky Robinson reclaimed the title on 26th September 2008, the new world’s best was now 360.913mph again with Ack Attack.
2009 saw the record back in Chris Carr’s hands with a speed of 367.383mph though the 2010 season returned Rocky Robinson back to the top of the pile with 376.363mph which remains the current record and Richard Brown’s target to beat.
In 1999 Richard Brown became the first Briton since Eric Fernihough in 1937 to enter the ring and challenge for the title of world’s fastest man on two wheels. Having designed and built the rocket powered Gillette Mach 3 Challenger the vehicle achieved a one way average speed of 332mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats on only it’s seventh run using just two of it’s three rockets. Clearly capable of taking the record to over 400mph Richard was unable to continue running the bike due to technical difficulties relating to the poor course conditions that year, however, it brought some satisfaction knowing he had gone faster than everyone before him.
Eric Fernihough -
Great Britain has a long and outstanding history in speed record breaking, yet we have to go back to 1937 to find the last Briton that held the World Two Wheeled Motorcycle Record namely Eric Crudgington Fernihough.
In the same era that Campbell, Eyston and Cobb were household names pushing the automobile speed record well above 300mph, in the same year that George VI was crowned King and Britain was watching Hitler’s Germany with growing concern motorcycle racer Eric Fernihough rode along a deserted stretch of road in Hungary on his Brough Superior motorcycle to a world record of 168.38mph.
Interestingly, Frank Whittle ground tested his new invention, the jet engine, for the first time in 1937, technology Richard plans to use to good effect nearly eighty years on in Jet Reaction to set the first ever thrust powered two wheeled record and become the next Briton to hold the Two Wheeled Land Speed Record.
World Two Wheeled Land Speed Record Challenger