First records claimed at 2019 BMST (Bonneville Motorcycle speed trials) on Day 2

Day 2 at the 2019 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials (BMST) saw improved salt conditions for FIM Land Speed World Record racers, and the first records of the week were claimed. Corey Bertelsen of New Zealand earned his first-ever FIM Land Speed World Record while Erin Sills (USA) added to her already impressive collection. 

Bertelsen piloted his Suzuki GSXR750 to a record speed of 165.431 mph (266.235 km/h) for a new FIM Land Speed World Record. After two days of reaching high speeds and “qualifying runs” (which the rider may back up with a return run for an official FIM Land Speed World Record), it was a relief for him to finally nail down the record with two consecutive runs. “It’s been kind of an up-and-down day, really,” said Bertelsen. “We qualified twice and we’ve actually run faster than we ran to get this record, but we got there. Totally stoked!”

With three days still remaining in the BMST meet, Bertelsen might come back for more later in the week.

“We’ll see what the conditions are like tomorrow because it’s still quite wet out there. We might run our little 250 bike for a bit, and then get this bike (the GSXR750) back out for a bit. I want to bump it up. The bike can go faster.” 

Erin Sills of Hunter/Sills Racing took her nitrous-powered BMW S1000RR—a.k.a. “Snoopy”—to a new record on the kilometer. Most FIM Land Speed World Records include speeds in both the measured mile and the measured kilometer on the racecourse, but this category was an exception. Sills already had the mile, but hadn’t captured the kilometer. 

“We qualified on the record that we kind of missed in Bolivia (2018 Cook’s Top Oil Land Speed Shootout),” Sills explained. “We didn’t miss it, I guess; when we raced in Bolivia on this same bike on the Uyuni salt flats, 10 seconds after I took off for my return run, the kilo timer failed. So they were unable to give me an official speed for the kilo when I was there in Bolivia so the result was I earned the mile record at 229 mph (368 km/h) but the kilo record was still in the books at 221 mph (355 km/h). 

“I took a pass on Snoopy this morning and we went 227 mph (365 km/h) and my initial thought was, ‘Awesome because we’re so close, but we didn’t qualify.’ Then I thought about it and realized we actually did qualify against the kilo record. So, we qualified at 227 mph (365 km/h) and backed it up at 221 mph (355 km/h). Our average is 225.183 mph (362.397 kmh) and we’ll be back here tomorrow morning and see if we can continue to bump it up. It was a great run but there are things we can do better—rider, track and bike, and we’ll see what we can do.”

As course conditions have improved, speeds have increased, with multiple riders taking passes at over 200 mph (321 km/h), including Ralph Hudson, Al Lamb, Trev Richter and Jim Cole. 

Hiro Koiso had a frightening crash this morning on his partially streamlined supercharged Harley-Davidson, going down in the timed mile at over 200 mph. Koiso was transported to the hospital but is reportedly okay, and in good spirits. Team members say he suffered injuries to his shoulder and fingers. 

Ralph Hudson had a scary moment when he got some bad headshake at over 200 mph (321 km/h), but he backed off and kept it safe during his run. He made some chassis changes and returned to the course to record a speed of 233.559 mph (375.877 km/h). Not enough for a FIM Land Speed World Record, though he did reach an AMA record today. 

“I think that’s good enough. I had high hopes that we were going to be able to chase the 300 record here, but the conditions just don’t allow it,” said Hudson. “I talked to Al Lamb and he said he was having the same handling issues I was, that the front end kinda pushes and it doesn’t go where you put it. [laughs] It needs to be a harder surface. It’s much better than it was two weeks ago, but it’s still not what we need.

“I think I’ve probably done enough. So, I think I’m just going to be satisfied and go home happy.” 

As for his competitor Al Lamb, he’s not anywhere near finished for the week. Lamb did an early-morning pass of over 200 mph (321 km/h) and returned to the pits for some mechanical changes. His team reports they are ready to head back to zero-mile first thing in the morning for an aggressive run. 

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