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Article from "Drive By, Te Awamutu" 10/9/09

Lure of Bonneville ice a mighty powerful force

By day Te Awamutu's Andy Goodridge is a business manager working in events for Hamilton City Council - but he harbours a passion for speed which he has fuelled for the past three years at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week.

Mr Goodridge has twice been part of the Black Thunder Racing crew, and this year was crew chief for a new two bike assault.

The privateer team is run by former Te Awamutu resident Alan Thoresen (now of Hamilton) who rides the Black Thunder Kawasaki ZX-14 in the 1650cc MPS-F Class.

British born bike fanatic Mr Goodridge started his working life as a coachbuilder apprentice for Mercedes and went on to spend 20 years in the automotive industry. Bikes became a passion early on. His grandfather raced in the UK and he recalls many summers at the Isle of Man TT. He rides his own MV 750 Augusta.

Mr Goodridge says the aim of this year's assault was to reach the elusive 200mph mark (all recording is done in mile per hour). Testing showed the ZX-14 was capableóbut Bonneville is unforgiving. Mr Thoresen in the New Zealand champion in his class over the quarter mile strip, but it is a big step up to five miles on salt.

Mr Goodridge says the atmosphere makes tuning difficult, and gearing is an issue. Black Thunder put in some terrific runs over the long course, only to just miss an official 200mph. The main issue was wheel spin ó the bike was still spinning the back wheel at over 200mph, but the fastest recorded run was 198.702mph.

Mr Goodridge says overseas teams are still a rarity at Speed Week, and the camaraderie is terrific, so they had plenty of offers of help and even borrowed a taller rear cog which helped them get close to the target. With this extra knowledge and experience options are already being considered for a return next year. The 198mph run was well ahead of the previous best of 181mph. All this makes Bert Munro's 200mph run all the more incredible.

Mr Goodridge says many old-timers still talk about Bert, and some of those at Speed Week were extras in the film, so Kiwis are welcomed with open arms. This year there was a team-mate, Dean veale running 'White Elephant', his Special Construction Hayabusa engine motor cycle. He gave the team a boost, setting a new record of 194.5mph in the 1650cc A-G Class.


Mr Goodridge says for motoring enthusiasts Bonneville Speed Week is petrolhead heaven. A highlight was seeing a beautifully built and prepared streamliner belonging to ZZ Top pulling 430mph. He says the viewing area is side on, so there is a real sense of the speed some of these vehicles travel at. Back at base everyone helps everyone, lending tools, parts and knowledge and letting participants get up and close to their machines.

LAST minute instructions from the starter before Alan Thoresen and Black Thunder hit the salt.

BLACK THUNDER crew chief Andy Goodridge (standing right) gives his rider Alan Thoresen some last minute encouragement before one of his Bonneville runs. Left is team-mate Dean Veale on 'The White Elephant'.

FINE TUNING: Black thunder crew chief Andy Goodridge (left) and rider Alan Thoresen working on the problem of wheelspin at 200mph.

RECORD BREAKER Dean Veale ready to race at Bonneville.