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The Salt Flats meet "PROJECT BONNEVALK"

Setting a land speed record is harder than it looks

So, you've got a really fast motorcycle. How do you prove it? You could put it on a dyno and e-mail the numbers to all your friends, or you could do it the hard way. Mr. C. Ray from Nashville, Tennessee knew he had a seriously fast Valkyrie, and he wanted to prove it to the world, so that nobody could dispute his claim! To add a twist, he didn't want a single purpose, rocket shaped speedster. His record setting bike would also be his every day rider, and a bike he would continue to tour on!

What makes Mr. Ray think his Valkyrie is so fast? Let's start with the "La Monster Supercharger System" featuring a reliable "Magnacharger" supercharger. While that may sound powerful, the real magic was in the internals of the motor and cylinder head, prepared by Dan Paramore of DPR Racing, in southern California. Dan engineered, designed, and built a Stage VI custom cylinder head for Ray, by modifying and reshaping the combustion chamber to increase quench area ("squish band"), then he fully ported and polished everything, before installing the ceramic coated valves into the heads. The results of DPR's work was astonishing! A 20-percent increase in intake flow, and a 30-percent gain on the exhaust side. Mr. Ray even flew Dan to Nashville to cut, polish, and work his magic on the pistons too! Once the heads were finished, and assembles, Dan focused all his grinding skills on the supercharger's manifold, to increase it's capability to match the new heads.

To safeguard the engine when running under full boost, the compression ration was dropped to 9.1:1. The valve springs were specially chosen and shimmed to make valves close quicker. Dan had a special set of cams made to his precise measurements, and the cam timing was altered to close the exhaust side a bit earlier, so the blower could cram as much boosted air/fuel into the cylinders as possible. Dan and Mr. Ray worked together to rig a double diaphragm clutch spring system to make sure the plates wouldn't slip. All these items are internal to the engine and the naked eye would never know...

The single glaring obvious horsepower boost comes from the two bottles of nitrous oxide strapped to the rear fender. A "Nitrous-Express" tunable system is adjusted to come on at full boost, and ramp up time of delivery, making it possible to get extreme horsepower, without extreme wheelspin! A Dynatech ignition system, and a Supertrapp exhaust system were chosen for their performance, and reliability. It all came out to about 165 rear wheel horsepower give or take one or two!!!


Anyone who's every been to "Speed Week" at the Bonneville Nationals are aware upon entry, that they are entering a world governed by rules and regulations, mostly for safety. All our players on "PROJECT BONNEVALK" arrived on Monday of "Speed Week". The first day was spent setting up base camp, and navigating thru the tech inspection. At first they were confident, according to the "RULE BOOK", the BONNEVALK could be configured to set four open speed records. All the bike had to do is complete qualifying and backup runs at any speed to set each of these records. However, Dan and Mr. Ray didn't want to set anything but solid, respectable records that others would have to work to beat. So, they disconnected the nitrous bottles and got ready to enter in "supercharged gas" class as there baseline.

Tuesday of Speed Week got off to a slow start with a two hour plus wait before each run was in order. Lucky teams get three runs in in one day. Dan was going to drive "BONNEVALK" for the records, and he needed two licensing passes before he could attempt a qualifying run. Mr. Ray also wanted to see how the BONNEVALK's jetting was working at the 4200 foot altitude. So, Dan's took off and made his first pass, at a disappointing 117 mph. A jetting change and a little more throttle allowed his second pass to hit 147 mph, a little bit more respectable, and also earned Dan his license, and the team resolved to hit the ground running on Wednesday.

Wednesday began with another jetting change and a valve clearance check. Although the carburetor was still running a bit lean, the supercharged engine was running clean, without a hitch, but had still never been put to full throttle on the salt! After seeing how slow everything was progressing, we revised our goals to setting only two records for the week, instead of the original four; first with gas, and the second with nitrous. By the end of day three, with every run producing faster speeds, we settled on the last run of the day at 156 MPH, as the qualifier for our first record. However, upon arriving in the impound area (where timing officials inspect vehicles), they experienced the great, unbending weight of the "RULE BOOK". When a machine arrives in the impound area, the officials perform a visual inspection, to make sure the machine qualifies for the class. When they looked at BONNEVALK, everyone's heart sank as the officials pointed out the unsealed fuel tank. Being time trial novices, none of the team members knew that an official had to witness "event-sanctioned-gas" being put into an empty tank, before the official seals the gas cap shut. Unswayed by our teams pleas, the official explained that the only way to insure the integrity of the records was to follow the rules to the letter. The team recategorized Wednesday as a testing and tuning day, to save face on paper.


Thursday began with more jetting woes. Despite the fact that Mr. Ray had installed a 220 main jet, the largest one made for the 45mm Mikuni, the plugs said the bike was running dangerously lean during the long wide-open throttle portion of the timing run. Dan and Mr. Ray resorted to drilling out a jet and calculated that it measured the equivalent of a 245 main. The change yielded a 158 mph pass through the lights.

Talking with people in the impound area the previous day had alerted Dan and Christian to a loophole in the rules that allows competitors a second chance at a better qualifying run without sacrificing the current run time. The rule book said that contestants have an hour after a timing slip is issued to deliver a bike to the impound area. So, scuttlebutt went, if you could turn around the second run in less than an hour, you could still use the first run if the second wasn't any faster.

The line was significantly shorter on day four as Speed Week ran down, and a second run in an hour was feasible. Naiveté and the desire to post the best record possible got the best of the team, and Dan got back on the BONNEVALK for a second run. Midway through the timed mile, as he tried to make himself as small as possible (to cheat the wind), Dan's knee hit the ignition switch, killing the engine --- AND the run. They arrived with the bike in impound, with only a minute to spare.

Unfortunately, a couple of seasoned veterans pointed out that the exact wording of the rule governing record runs contradicted the popular sentiment expressed by the old salts the team had talked to. So, to dispel any appearance of impropriety, BONNEVALK hit the salt again, and rewarded the team with a timed mile of 161.352 mph (gas only, no nitrous)! The improved speed was a result of bumping the fuel pressure up to four PSI to force the fuel into the carb faster, to counter the still present lean problem.

The bike was tucked away in the impound area without incident, and the team went back to the hotel in a celebratory mood. A record was within their grasp.

Day five, the final day of speed week for us, and thanks to a miscommunication about the hotel departure time, Team Project BONNEVALK arrived five minutes too late for the backup runs. Not being part of the escorted procession from impound to the starting line is the equivalent of breaking the seal on the gas tank. Once again---but this time on the last day of Bonneville Speed Week---the team found itself back at square one. The only option they had available to them was to run the bike for another qualifying time after the morning's back up runs. Then in the afternoon, they would have one last shot to back up their qualifier. The dream of setting more than a single record was abandoned. One more misstep and the week (and a whole lot of money) would be wasted.

The fates cast their cruel eyes once again on project BONNEVALK during the final backup run. For the first time the engine sputtered, sounding like it would give out. Paramore pulled in the clutch, preparing to coast through the timing lights at the end of the track. However, when the engine settled down at idle, he released the clutch, and gave it the berries. The result was a disappointing 149.763 mph. Only the displacement test remained between Christian Ray and his speed record.

Since BONNEVALK displaced a stock 1520 cc in a 1650 cc class, the record was a fait accompli before the measurement was taken. However, the chastened team waited anxiously for the final signatures on the record form before beginning the celebration. After five days on the salt, months of preparation, and more money than anyone was willing to admit spending, project BONNEVALK had a certified land speed record at an average speed of 153.956 mph.(we went faster, but this was the official record!)

Although Mr. Christian Ray didn't get the four records he's initially hoped for, he struggled, persevered, and won the privilege of being able to say he owns "World's Fastest Valkyrie" --- at least for this year. But Ray and Paramore are planning for another attempt at the record. Dual carburetors will address the jetting issues while better streamlining and narrower bars will help BONNEVALK push less air. They're already dreaming of the magic 200 mph mark! (and that's STILL without the NITROUS!)

Speed Week Videos at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah

This IS NOT a video of our run, but it is a great view of the Salt Flats, and it shows the anticipation before a run! Be sure you watch it in "HD" FULLSCREEN!!!! E N J O Y

Watch this bullet car hit 408 MPH as it dispersals into the distance!!!! Be sure you watch it in "HD" FULLSCREEN!!!! E N J O Y

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