Land speed racing is something that people think only happens in the desert, but several times a year, it happens at Airborne Airpark in Wilmington, Ohio. Next week, BestRide is going to be there to witness and volunteer, and we’re hoping to see a turbocharged Suzuki GSXR-1000 break the 243.111 mph record.
Land speed racing is the last bastion of for privateers. Even in drag racing, some guy with a dream, a garage full of tools and four wheels isn’t going to come near the top echelon of the sport. Land speed racers are the purest practitioners of going fast. They do it for nothing other than the thrill of learning how fast the vehicle they build can go in a straight line, over a measured distance.
The event is sanctioned by the East Coast Timing Association (ECTA). Four times a year, scores of car and motorcycle racers gather at the Airborne Airpark in Wilmington, Ohio, to speed down the Ohio Mile race track. Vehicles range from production cars and motorcycles to exotic, purpose-built racers.
Our pal Brian Lohnes — editor in chief at BangShift.com — and his wife Kerri are on the board of the ECTA, and he acts as the chief timer of the Ohio Mile. We had a few minutes to chat with him last night. “We’re going to have you all over the place,” he laughed. “You’ll be up at the timing tower, at the start and at the finish line, so you get a good idea of what’s going on at every point on the track.”
The track itself is a disused airstrip, providing a ribbon of concrete 9,000 feet long. It’s enough of a flat surface for a vehicle to run flat out for a solid mile, as well as nearly a mile of shutdown area.
At the moment, 130 vehicles have numbers, and the event caps out at 150 competitors, so it’s nearly a full slate.
A C5 Corvette currently holds the record at the Ohio Mile, and has preserved that spot since 2012. That year, Lane Culver took the car to 244.192 miles per hour, pulled along by a 427-cu.in. turbocharged LS motor. You can see the car hit 160 mph in this early test run at the Ohio Mile:
Motorcycles have their own set of speed records here, too. Don Haas holds the record at 243.111 mph on a turbocharged Suzuki GSXR-1000. Lohnes notes that Haas is back this year, hoping to bust that record wide open.
Here’s what 239.7 looks like at the Ohio Mile. It’s terrifying:
How much power does it take to rocket a motorcycle to almost 250mph? Haas’s Suzuki GSXR-1000 pulls 502ho on the dyno.
While the overall track record is fascinating, the records in the other classes are just as inspiring. Lohnes points out Bill Barnes, who showed up in 2014 with a steam-powered motorcycle of his own construction that at the modest speed of just 80 miles an hour reset a one-mile record for steam-powered bikes that existed for 120 years.
“It was a true pleasure to watch this baby operate and even moreoso knowing that Bill was chasing some big history with it,” Lohnes said. You can learn lots more about the bike at Dan Strohl’s story on the Hemmings Blog.
Here’s Barnes’s record-busting run from last year:
We’re thrilled to be heading out next Friday, April 3o. We’ll be live-tweeting from the event May 1 and 2. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get updates, photos and video throughout the weekend.
(Image Source: ECTA-LSR.com, Hemmings.com)