Team Subtle Crowbar
Sets Land Speed Record at Bonneville!



24.4 MB


9.88 MB


6.72 MB

Read About It:
Team Subtle Crowbar and the “World of Speed” Bonneville, Utah
Sept 17-20 2008

Hi everyone, the team has returned from our first trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats and what a fantastic adventure it was!

Several weeks prior, on August 22nd we had a terrible setback.  The Meteor's engine blew up on the dyno wasting the cam, 3 lifters, a piston, cylinder, oil pump and both exhaust valves.  I wasn't pleased with the dyno operators lack of attention that day, that’s all I’m going to say about that. We had only a few weeks to get her apart and back together which meant a mad scramble for custom parts we didn't have.  Major Kudos go to machinist friend Phil Wyatt who repaired the heads and machined the new special ford mushroom tappets in very short time.  Web Cam repaired the camshaft and had it back in about 10 days.  Greg Field came to our rescue, donating a `like new` hi volume oil pump.  Buddy Eric Hjeltness and wife Mani helped me get the motor out and back in.  The motor was fired off about a week before this race and we arrived to Bonneville with barely a half hour of cam bed in time on a very fresh motor.

My wife Mani and I arrived Tuesday early afternoon and took the Meteor thru Tech Inspection and then set up our area in the pits. That evening we met up with the rest of the crew back at the Best Western in Wendover.

The International crew consisted of some of the greatest folks I`ve ever had the privilege of hanging with:

  • Long time friend Fred Ghyselincks our Crew Chief from Victoria, Canada drove in with his best friend, Dan Vallee also from Victoria, and also a very capable wrench.
  • Riding in from San Antonio was `Texas Tony` Statz on a EV and with him was Ray Bland from Chama, New Mexico on his beautiful Eldorado. Tony and Ray are two of the friendliest guzzisti you will ever meet.
  • From Lake Havasu arrived the other retirees, my own Uncle Bob Ross and his long time friend, Bill Ensley.  These guys were anything but retired as they all worked very hard and were extremely helpful thru out the week. Mani was the chase truck driver amongst many things and worked her buns off all week long.  This was her first trip to Bonneville and she really enjoyed the experience as well.

Wednesday morning we went over the bike and objectives and then proceeded to get in the long line. After about 4 hours we made it to the starting line by mid afternoon and proceeded with a `tuning run` of 166.62 mph. The course was smooth, dry and excellent. No weird handling or tire spin issues. The bike felt in top form.

Returning to the pits, we consulted Rick Gold with ERC Race Fuels.   On his recommendation we leaned the carbs out by dropping the main jet a half size. Too late to run again so we called it a day and would return very early the next morning.

The crew horsing around in the staging lanes

Thursday Morning:   We watched a spectacular sunrise over the eastern Utah mountains from the salt flats, it was quite surreal. By mid morning we made our first pass of the day and ran a 169.09 averaged over the 2nd to 3rd mile. Good improvement! Back to the pits for a plug check and leaned her out another half step.  At this point we also swapped to the spare `RED` wheel that has a smaller 120/70 front tire mounted backwards and got back in line.  With little to no tire spin and the convert rear drive, the bike was really over geared. That afternoon we then ran a 170.85 and qualified for the MPS-1000-PG record we were after which stood at 169.20. Just minutes before we reached the starting line, we had a surprise visit from two more Guzzisti:  `So Cal Don` Garcia and Larry `Lupo ` Andrade had just ridden in. What a great moment that was and we really wanted to put a show on for them after their long ride.

Well, the bike was a quite a bit squirrelly with that smaller tire combo and the crew reported a large rooster tail of salt all the way down the track. It was a ride I’ll never forget, I believe it`s referred to locally as the `Bonneville Waltz`. After arriving in impound we had 4 hours to make any adjustments we wanted to. After swapping the original rear tire and white wheel back, the Tech Inspector Tom Evans came by for a visit.  A very vague, subjective rule change, new for 2008, suggested that our rear seat bodywork had some fiberglass in an unacceptable location (behind my knee and below the thigh).  Either we needed to cut the body and remove this area or we needed to change classes from Modified Partial Streamlining to Altered Partial Streamlining. How this rule would affect our streamlining was beyond me?

After a lot of team discussion that evening we decided to change to the APS-1000-PG class and then start over by re-qualifying. The USFRA staff was really cool with us in doing this. We would work on the rule stuff later, we came to race.

Fred and Ray swapping out the lemans rear wheel. The white wheel has a shaved V rated tire good for 150 to 200 mph

Friday Morning:     Our next run would be our best yet, 171.24 average mph and qualified us for the APS-1000-PG record of 161.050. Our exit speed was pretty close to 173 mph to have a 171.24 average, damn this is a good running 973 cc two valver!

Spirits were high, we were elated to run over 10 mph faster on the existing record and headed back to impound.  There we checked plugs, fluids, tires, nuts and bolts, everything looking good, we buttoned her up for next mornings backup run and took the afternoon off to cruise the pits etc.

At the starting line with Fred, Uncle Bob and `Ray Poppins`

Saturday Morning:  Last day of the USFRA World of Speed.    We had discussed earlier in the week the possibility of reclassifying the meteor, and running the bike in the Altered Class for a potential 2nd record.  This would entail removing the front fairing and belly pan, re `teching` the bike, forms, fees etc. It was still a feasible thing to do if we backed our APS-PG run up and then had the motor sealed.

Lined up on the starting line Saturday morning, just before our APS-1000-PG backup record run

Saturday Morning: It's 64 degrees with a 2 mph headwind and the density altitude is 4921, conditions are as good as it gets.  The Mandello Meteor carries Bill over 170 mph on this run and earns her first Bonneville Land Speed Record.

Waiting for a lift after our second 170mph+ backup run

We headed back to impound and proceeded to work with the Chief Inspector and USFRA to get the bike sealed and reclassified for the Altered 1000 Pushrod Gas class.

The crew gets to removing the front fairing and belly pan and applying the newly assigned numbers to the tail section # 1545.

In Impound, future `Guzzisti pledges` give their support as we get ready to remove excess bodywork for `A-PG` class

Back in line ready for our qualifying run in `A` class. Chief Syrup Head checks the oil pan for sufficient heat 

147.19 mph was the standing record for the `A-PG` class. We qualified after running a 151.66. The bike felt good without the fairing though I lugged her a bit in 4th from shifting too early.  The fairing did make a big difference with top end speed.  We headed back to impound and waited for the Noon backup run.

The Mandello Meteor just after the 3rd gear 8500 rpm backup run that gave us our second record at 150.908 mph in Altered Pushrod Gas

A piece of splintered phone pole was recovered from the salt. It was remnants from Craig Breedlove`s infamous crash in 1964, when he lost both parachutes and effectively had no brakes at over 525 mph. After plowing through a row of phone poles, He eventually crashed into a salt pond at 200 mph and survived, uninjured. Hallowed ground indeed!

At impound the bike is measured for displacement and our records receive final verification.  Group pictures are taken, # 1545 on the tail for the A-PG class and # 5154 for the APS-PG class.

Team Subtle Crowbar at the USFRA ‘ World of Speed ’ 2008
L to R: Dan Vallee, Ray Bland, Bob Ross, Fred Ghyselincks,
Bill Ensley,Tony Statz, Mani and Bill Ross

Group pictures are taken, # 1545 on the tail for the A-PG class and # 5154 for the APS-PG class.

We couldn't have done it without all of the generous support from fellow Guzzisti, Familia and our Sponsors.

                        THANK YOU!!!  


Bonneville Links:




[Return to Homepage]

More info about our Team or the Mandello Meteor:

Copyright © 2007-2008
Team Subtle Crowbar
Last modified: June 04, 2008