WENDOVER, UTAH, AUG. 25-30—Late August brings on the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, staged annually for the last nine years by the legendary Denis Manning and his staff at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah. For the motorcycle go-fast crowd these are the most awesome races on the planet, and for those of you who have never attended, this has got to be on your bucket list. This is a land-speed junkie’s utopia.
Our ride to Wendover began from Performance Specialists, our motorcycle shop and Confederate Motors dealership in Kingman, Arizona. We pulled out at 8:30 a.m. and started the nine-hour journey to the salt flats to join up with the Confederate Motors team and provide technical assistance and advice if needed. The ride up U.S. Route 93 is awesome. The road is good and there are plenty of gas stops. The food and people on the way are also great. We pulled into Wendover around 7:30 p.m. after a great ride through White Horse Pass—that road rocks! The folks at the hotel told us it had rained really hard earlier and deluged the track, even though we couldn’t tell it had rained a drop.
So a phone call immediately went to James Hoegh, the rider for the Confederate Motors team. Turns out that the track was flooded and the meet was called off for Monday. Well, that Monday brought a host of racers with nothing to do. All the bikes were ready to race, so it turned out to be a sunburn-and-beer pool day for all. All the usual guys were there and many newcomers, as well. There were some really way-out folks from every direction, all there for one thing and one thing only—to see who was going to break that record!
Tuesday’s track turned out to be fairly good; it was hot and the track was finally drying up. Things kicked off about 6:00 that morning, just after the wonderful sunrise over the salt flats. The Confederate team was about to attempt a new record on the latest of the Hellcat models, a bike I believe to be the best looking there. With the S&S fuel-injected X-Wedge powering the missile, it was quite appropriately named The Combat.
The team was there to make Mr. Matt Chambers, the CEO of Confederate Motors, a very happy man. The rest of the crew included Paul, Jason, Pit Kitty, James and myself. The guys transported this bike in from the firm’s Birmingham, Alabama, headquarters and were ready to go. One thing I must tell you: everyone at the meet helps everyone else. S&S Cycle has probably touched every one of you reading this, and the Smith family has been there from the beginning. This year George Jr. was there with Warner Riley and the entire team. These folks really go out of their way to help each and every racer at the meet. They had some new racing products displayed, and at their pit they also had a barbecue open to every racer and crew member. These are the folks, along with the Mannings, who know, care, eat, sleep and breathe motorcycles—100 percenters.
James powered up the Confederate Hellcat Tuesday morning and ran an amazing 164 mph on his first run. That was an awesome run for a new bike and new model. Paul, Jason and James discussed a sprocket change while Matt and I thought he should pull up more RPMs to the redline. Jan from S&S assisted us and installed a modified EFI program on the X-Wedge. We were all pooped from the high heat and James did not get to re-run the bike that day, so we went back to the Rainbow and prepped for Wednesday, hoping to break the record.
Tuesday night brought us to the infamous Black and White Bar, operated by Carmen who knows every racer by their first name. Turns out it was “Legends Night” with the likes of Pete Hill and his wife and an amazing list of former race legends and record-setters. The stories were told like you were there and experienced the race in person.
Wednesday morning we slept until 7:00 while the other boys headed out at 6:00. We arrived at the track at 8:30 after we found our keys, and the guys were already hanging around the bike in the pit and looking dumbstruck—to my surprise, they had just broken the class record with a 166 mph down pass and a 177 mph rerun! Unbelievably, we had missed the record run, but the day’s previous modifications had worked. The bike ran splendidly.
We stayed in Wendover until Thursday morning. The awards were Thursday night, but we had to leave to make our scheduled plans in Vegas. We headed out, down Route 93, back through White Horse Pass where we hit rain for 20 miles then on and off through rain all the way to Las Vegas. We stopped at Henderson Harley-Davidson to get some hot coffee, and Mike Classens, the service manager, gave us a sneak peak at some of the new 2013 Harleys.
Many thanks to Denis Manning and his staff who so graciously puts on this annual BUB event. They represent some of the best hosts anyone could want. These guys and gals go the extra mile to make sure that you always have a memorable meet. This is the best race event out there, and you really need to experience it for yourself—but be warned: When the salt bites you, as Burt Munro said, you will be back to the Holy Ground every year!
(A special thanks to Las Vegas Harley-Davidson for helping us out with an O-ring failure on our ride up to Wendover. Those guys jumped on our bud Dick’s bike and knocked it out in about two hours—a stellar job done and even a wash job, to boot. I strongly recommend a stop there the next time you have a Las Vegas road-trip problem.)