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3rd-14th August 2009
Bonneville 2009 Summary

With the challenges we have had trying to get emails out from Wendover, we have decided to sumarise the events from Las Vegas where we have returned to with the trailer and bikes.

Aug 3 We met at Go Logistics LAX Agent Priority World Wide Services where Ike Miura, the Station Manager looked after us well. The container containing the trailer was sitting on the back of a semi trailer all cleared and waiting for us to unload on the warehouse dock. About the same time Pete Bradey arrived (from Kiwi Construction), who had offered to tow our trailer to Las Vegas behind his truck.

Pete is a great guy who really helped us out, after the previous offer of the use of a truck through some one else, to tow the trailer fell through at the last minute. Pete, you were amazing... thank you again. Violet and I rode with Pete on the trip to Las Vegas, while Dean and Andy followed in Dean's rental car. Pete delivered the trailer to Violet's brothers house in Las Vegas, where we disconnected the trailer and Pete turned around to do the return trip back to Los Angeles.

Aug 4 After the delivery of the trailer to Violet's brothers house, we spent a day checking the bikes and making sure everything was all okay for the trip to Speedweek 2009 at Bonneville. On Black Thunder the Kawasaki ZX-14 I noted the Fuel/Air Ratio meter was not responding as well as it should but still appeared to be giving a reading so concerns went away. (This was to haunt us later!!)

Dean had some rewiring to do on his bike, which with the help of Chuck Deguvara and his soldering iron, managed to get him self all sorted. Violet and I with Andy went out to the Las Vegas Speed way to collect some NOS for the Kawasaki ZX-14, while Dean finished his electrical work.

Thank you to Chuck and Jackie Deguvara for your hospitality once again. We hope the neighbours were not upset by the bike noises while we were running them to ensure all was okay!!!

We called in to our normal stop "The Fast and the Furious" where we normally get our NOS filled, and were shocked to find that they no longer did NOS refills. Further to this we were shocked to hear that the shop owner Gary had died a few weeks before in the shop as the result of a suspected heart attack. Gary was really a nice guy, and would always invite us up to his air conditioned office, when we were getting our NOS filled, and always had time for a chat with his Kiwi visitors.

We called in at Dyno Tech Las Vegas and caught up with Steve and his lovely lady. Steve gave us a quick look around the shop again, and then advised us we would have to go to SO-CAL on the other side of Las Vegas for NOS refills.

After leaving Las Vegas Dynotech, we popped in to see Violet's nephew at Richard Petty Racing, Joe Deguvara. Joe gave us a quick look around, at some very impressive cars and engines, and then took us to another building where we saw his race car. We left Joe with the promise of a quick return the following day on the way to Bonneville to give Dean the opportunity to see some of the cars.

We headed across to the other side of Las Vegas where we found SO-CAL. What a great place and definitely a Hot Rodders Heaven!!

While the guys were refilling my NOS bottles, we had a good look around the shop, and drooled over much of the parts and equipment they had there. The people at SO-CAL were really friendly and helpful, and it must be the cheapest refill I have ever had for my NOS bottles!!!

We returned to rejoin Dean at Chuck Deguvara's and take a quick dip in the pool after loading the Motorhome and Trailer, and then back to our Hotel at the Boulder Station.

Aug 5 Chuck and Jackie again allowed us the use of their motorhome to tow the trailer with the bikes to Bonneville. Chuck had installed a new more powerful generator, to replace the unit which failed last year, and it worked very well.

A quick bit of shopping around Las Vegas to pick up the last few items needed for the Bonneville trip. Food and Plenty of water and Gatorade!!

Dean managed to get a good deal on a video camera, and also a cell phone from Fry's Electronics, so he was pretty happy

With a bit of jet lag still and the long hot day, we returned to our hotel room at Boulder Station. That evening we joined Chuck, Jackie, Violets mum for an early Mexican Meal at Boulder Station (and preparation for our start the following day).

Aug 6 - The trip to Bonneville from Las Vegas. This was a very difficult drive for Violet driving the Motorhome and towing a 20ft trailer especially in high winds. The winds were reported to be gusting to 80mph in places and with the way the trailer and motorhome were being blown around, I would suspect the wind strength would not be too far away from what was predicted.

En route we found that the wind had pulled up and re-erected the wind up TV aerial, so we needed to get up on to the roof and use high speed tape to hold it down. After a long slow trip we finally arrived at the KOA camp ground in Wendover, where we learn't that a number of large trucks had been blown off the road.

Aug 7 - Tech Inspection. The Kawasaki ZX-14 Black Thunder and Modified Hayabusa "The White Elephant", both went through technical inspection with out any major changes.

Alan is running the Kawasaki ZX-14 "Black Thunder" in MPS-F Class (Modified Partial Steam Line Fuel Class) and is in the 1650cc category although his engine is actually only 1352cc, it puts him over the 1350cc limit.

Dean is running in a Special Construction Class A-G and is running his 1540cc Hayabusa dubbed "The White Elephant" in the 1650cc Class.

After we finished up Friday is was back home to our Camp site in Wendover.

I elected to have both HJC helmets certified, one has a Euro approval and the other has a Snell approval, and this went through okay. Dean had his new helmet approved and both of our leathers and the rest of the gear went through inspection okay.

Aug 8 - Opening and Start of Racing. Once again we were full on with an early rise to get to the salt. At 9.00am they held the opening ceremony, with a large crowd (over 500 plus entries) and this was followed by a Rookies Meeting, which Dean attended as a new Racer at Bonneville.

We took the motorhome down the Special Course with Dean on the Rookies Briefing Run, which is a big help to any new person who is going to race at Bonneville. (I believe there some thing like 130 new racers or "rookies" racing at Bonneville Speed week this year.

We started our racing on the "Short Course" where we meet familiar faces with Bill Taylor and Doug in the Starters Crew along with Bill II as we called him.

I started the first run where I used it to refamilarise myself with the Salt surface and the traction issues which would cause a little slipping and sliding. Dean followed me as the second rider on his initial "rookie" licensing run, where he had to run between lower specified speeds to qualify for his first license.

As I was waiting on the return track, I observed Dean's run and could hear the wheel spin with the unusual changes in RPM, just as my own run was observed by the Black Thunder Team Andy and Violet back at the start line.

Dean rolled off the track to the return road and joined me as we waited for our recovery vehicle (the motorhome and trailer) to pick us up. At this point he produced his secret weapon... the umbrella which he had stowed on the left side of his bike in a tube which also doubled as his side stand attachment.

The umbrella was a welcome addition to provide much sought after shade, when waiting to be collected by the rest of the team.

When the motorhome and yrailer arrived with Andy and Violet both bikes were loaded back in to the trailer and we headed back down the return road to the timing team to collect our timing slips. The first run on the ZX-14 Black Thunder was at 1355 hrs and a temperature of around 66 degrees and we produced a top speed of 176.833mph, and with Dean running his first licensing pass with in the prescribed limits.

The second run on the ZX-14 Black Thunder was at 1607 hours on the short course run to a similar speed as the first run at 176.836. With the amount of entries and cars and bikes lining up to run, we called it a day after our first two runs as it was heading on towards 1700 hours and we had some work to do.

On the ZX-14 Black Thunder we had found it peaking out in RPM in top gear, over the first two runs and although this was put down to wheel spin, with the speeds achieved we elected to carry out a gearing change, and dropped the rear sprocket down by one tooth (42 tooth to a 41 tooth sprocket). After these initial runs a decision was made to add lead weight to the swing arm for the following day.

Aug 9 Another early start so Dean could get his licensing finished on "The White Elephant", and we could add the two 5kg weights to the swingarm.

The first run on the ZX-14 Black Thunder was at 11.27am.

Temperature was 66.4 F for the first run and we had a density altitude of 5581ft.

We entered the first mile two marker at 184.534mph and hit the two and a quarter marker at 193.371mph, however wheel slippage saw the three mile speed drop to 192.084mph. RPM was still hitting in to the red in top gear and at this point realized, we had the wrong box of gearing packed and would need smaller rear sprockets. This was still a high for the Black Thunder Team as it was our first entry in to the 190's on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

We elected to add another two 5kg blocks of lead (20kgs total of lead) to try and harness the wheel spin, as well as change tyre pressures. The number two run for the day was at 1453 hours and the temperature had gone up to 73.9 F and Density Altitude had gone up to 6045 ft. The salt conditions had changed on the course, and were not conducive to the changes that we had made.

From mile 2 to mile 3 we ran a disappointing 181.089 mph/186.713 mph/186.570 mph. We decided to try the run again to verify the results with a third run.

At 1643 we rolled the bike out for another run in the same configuration. Temperature had risen to 75.8F and Density Altitude to 6202 ft. This run gave us 179.458 mph/183.410 mph/184.015 mph again on the ZX14 with the bike running in to red in 6th gear. This run also showed more erratic readings on the Fuel/Air Gauge and we were not getting the log files recorded on the Wide Band Commander so it made tuning adjustments on the Power Commander very difficult.

Aug 10 Back to the Special course for my first run on Black Thunder for the day. Time 0956, temperature 66.4F and a density altitude of 5534 ft, and our best calculated guess with the Fuel/Air Mixture and a fresh bottle of NOS gave us a good feeling for the first run. We set up again with 4 x 5 kg blocks of lead on the swing arm. This looked to be a good run on the GPS however I was still running in to the red line in top gear. The big smiles from the Black Thunder Team and a group of visiting Kiwis who hitched a ride in the motorhome, were the first indication to Alan that this was a good run when the recovery vehicle arrived to pick him up on the return road.

With talk of a high 190's pass, Alan was lost for words for a moment, as he silently reflected on the three year build up to get to this stage. As he described it, it was an emotional moment. A trip back down the return road, to the timing tent, reaffirmed what the Black thunder Team and kiwi visitors had heard on the Radio.

Time slip for bike 740 read Mile 2 - 194.073 mph, Mile 2 1/4 - 198.080 mph and Mile 3 196.058 mph. What a lot of excitement this created amongst the Black Thunder Team!!

The concern was that the bike was hitting 11500 rpm in top gear on this run and we desperately needed to lower the gearing on the rear sprocket. We had been running a 42 tooth and then dropped to a 41 tooth rear sprocket but we needed to go lower.
We were checking other teams running the ZX-14 to see if we could borrow another smaller sprocket to tray. Best offer was the loan of a 37 tooth rear sprocket from a team running a stock ZX-14, which we gratefully accepted.

Dean had finished his licensing runs on the White Elephant and on his last run of the day managed to come up with a winning combination with traction and tuning and managed to beat the existing 191.5 mph record in his class. We returned to the pits dropping Dean's bike off in impound, for class verification, and went back to consider options with Black Thunder.

We returned to the pits for a sprocket change and then the Black Thunder Team returned to the Special for second run for the day and saw totally changed conditions at 1533 hours. Temperature had gone up to 82.4F and Density altitude had increased over 1000ft to 6562ft. The results from this run were a best speed of 189.799 mph. RPM was about 9000/9500 RPM in top so we had room to move if we could get the ZX-14 to pull in top with that gearing.

Aug 11 A 6.00am start was needed to get Dean's bike out of impound and over to the Short Course for the 7.00am start for the record run back ups. I was very fortunate thanks to the Faulkner Livingston Team and Dynojet who gave me a replacement Fuel Air Probe, while we were collecting Dean's bike from the impound area, which would hopefully help get my logging and tuning sorted.

Once again the course conditions had changed for Dean's run and record back up. While this was happening Black Thunder sat in the trailer unable to do a further run until Dean had finished his back up run. Dean finally got to the line on The White Elephant, and the track looked to be challenging with most speeds for bikes and cars being lower than previously run. Dean's run was slightly under the existing record; however it was hoped that when checked for an average against his qualifying run, he would take the record. Unfortunately this was not to be and his average speed for the record run fell short by 0.5 mph.

We finally got Black Thunder out for another run and did a total of three runs. We were rejoined by different groups of Kiwis, who came down for a run beside the course in the motorhome as it did it's run with the trailer to recover the bikes from the course.

Best Speeds for each run were as follows:
Run 1 Time 1013 hrs, Temperature 71.5F, Density Altitude 5834ft, Speed -188.530 mph
Run 2 Time 1221 hrs, Temperature 79.1F, Density Altitude 6277ft, Speed 198.702 mph (this was our best run and really had the team excited).
Run 3 Time 1725 hrs, Temperature had increased to 89.3F, and Density Altitude to 7010ft. Speed 195.498 mph.

Another moment of panic as Alan did the last run of the day, and found the electronic speedo stopped working , and a red warning light came on a the mile 3 marker, so an emergency slow down was completed. Initially Alan thought it was the oil light and was concerned about the bike locking up at high speed, which could spell impending disaster.

Dean had completed another run and was again able to qualify for a record run against the 191.5mph record, so we took Dean and the White Elephant back to impound, so he could make ready for his back up run on the following morning.

We returned to our pit area with Black Thunder and carried out a diagnostic check, on the Red Light and F1 fault showing on the instrument panel. The red light was linked to a fault in the speedo sensor loom, which we were unable to correct. We carried out a highly technical repair of the warning light system. We took a piece of black insulation tape calibrated to a specific size and placed this over the red warning light, and the "worry" went away.!!!! The new Fuel Air Probe was fitted and appeared to work okay with initial tests.

We put Black Thunder back in to the Trailer, and then locked the trailer up and left it on the salt overnight.

Aug 12 We had an early start again to get Dean to the line for his second attempt at a record back up. A moment of panic hit us as after we picked up Dean's bike we found the Start Battery in the motorhome had died and despite a quick trouble check, it appeared that the battery was due "it's last rites". We did a quick swap taking the battery out of the trailer and using it to replace the start battery in the Motorhome. After some quick handy work by Andy, the motorhome again roared in to life and we headed back to the Short Course.

Dean had a good run and after getting the time slip, his average worked out at 194.5 mph giving him the A-G 1650cc record. We had to get Dean's bike back to impound for final technical verification for the record, so dropped Dean, the bike and the Black Thunder EZY-UP off, and the Black Thunder Team headed back to the Special Course.

First run was at 10.09 hrs on the ZX14 with a Temperature of 73.7F, a 6033 Density Altitude, producing a Speed of 197.869mph. Next run was at 1120 hrs, Temperature of 85.6F, density altitude 6770ft, and we found a little more wheel spin on this run giving us a speed of 191.941 mph.

The frustration was starting was starting to set in, with wheel spin, low NOS supplies and the Wide band deciding not to log again and the fact that we only had another day ahead of us and we needed a morning run to run faster.

Good news was that Dean's bike the Hayabusa "White Elephant" had passed his record check and had been awarded the class record for A-G 1650cc with an average speed of 194.398 mph which was set as the new record. The original record was 191.593 mph.

At this time Dean's family arrived on the salt and joined us for a final run of the day on the salt. Dean had a good run with a speed of 196.309 mph.

Black Thunder appeared to be running excessively rich and the result was less than expected which was very disappointing for Alan as being so close to the 200 mph mark, and the time to accomplish this was eroding away quickly.

The last two runs of the day for Alan on Black Thunder were 194.056 mph and 193.004 mph.

The fuel air ratio unit had failed again and the information from the log on the wideband commander showed RPM only and a super rich scale which looked unbelievable.

Aug 13 This was the final opportunity for Black Thunder to move in to the 200 mph mark, and everything seemed to be against us. The tuning of the bike was questionable with the erratic readings from wide band commander. We believed we had the correct weight and tyre pressure settings for the run, and it was hoped that the early morning air would give us that extra bit of power with the NOS. Unfortunately we found we were out of NOS and all we were filling the bottles with was NOS "Flavoured Air". This would mean that the enrichened mixture for running with the NOS, would be way too rich for no NOS.

Alan quickly loaded another map in to the power commander via his lap top, but was not happy about the variables and the fact with the erratic readings from the Fuel/Air, we had lost our winning base line.

The first run for Alan returned a speed of 193.770 mph, on the ZX-14, which was pretty good considering the NOS was on its way out, and the questions on fuel maps. The salt conditions were definitely changing and the next run saw a lot of wheel spin and a lower mph of 189.199 mph. Alan wanted to go straight out for another run as you could sense the frustration in the air as the speed slipped away. The day was hot, and the team was pretty tired.

We all became concerned that we were really pushing the envelop with the conditions, and this is where problems can occur. Alan elected to push a third run, and at the first mile marker he had the bike spin up to the extent where it went side ways on him for a brief second. This was at 188.894 mph, so was some what exhilarating!! As Alan pushed on towards the mile 2 and mile 3 the bike was still wheel spinning and then began to miss quite badly at around 9500 rpm. Alan backed off and turned off the course feeling very disappointed. It appeared that the spark plugs had started to break down.

Dean had also encountered wheel spin between the 1 mile and 3 mile markers and both bikes could be heard from the start line to be revving with wheel spin, - with their loud straight exhaust systems.

A quick team meeting decided to call it our last run as it was felt we would loose too much time changing plugs on the ZX-14, and with out Nitrous Oxide, would gain no more speed with the current conditions. With the effort that the team had made it was felt if we pushed harder in the last few hours we could invite disaster, which was not an option to take on. We packed up the bikes and pit area and headed off to the local car wash to wash the salt from the bikes, motorhome and trailer. After what seemed like some $50 worth of quarters for the car wash, we packed the bikes back in to the trailer, and headed back for our last night at the KOA Camp ground.

Aug 14 Alan Andy, and Violet, got up early to refuel the motorhome, - which used hundreds of dollars worth of fuel on the trip to Bonneville and back towing the large trailer and with the high winds we encountered on the journey. Alan had the RV LPG Tanks refilled at the KOA and we dropped the last of our waste and Grey water at the KOA Wendover dump site. We also got to enjoy the traditional $2.99 Ham and Eggs Breakfast at the Red Garter Casino before we rolled out of Wendover. Dean and his family headed off in their rental car to explore some neighboring states before they return to NZ. As we headed out in the Motorhome with the trailer in tow, we started to experience the high winds again on the journey to Las Vegas. At one of our stops in a small town called Alamo, Alan checked the Motorhome and trailer and discovered the shroud from the Coleman Air conditioner on the roof of the RV had been ripped off by the high winds. We finally arrived at Las Vegas at around 6.00pm, all exhausted, and parked the RV up at the Station Casino where we booked a room and crashed for the night.


This trip to Bonneville Speed Week 2009 was again a learning curve for Black Thunder Racing NZ. You never stop learning on the salt. It was very much the year of Agony and the Ecstasy. The Agony of being so close to our goal, and not being able to get there. So close and yet so far... less than 1.298 mph short of the magic 200 mph and not to far from the 214.033 record. The "what if" What if we had the correct gearing, and a better supply of NOS?

The Ecstasy of Alan and the Kawasaki ZX-14 Black Thunder going faster than we have ever gone on the salt flats, 198.702 mph. The excitement of the team as we moved up in the numbers and went some almost 17mph faster than we had previously gone on the salt.

We must thank Go Logistics, Castrol NZ, Darbi Accessories Continental Tyres, W White Wholesale RK Chains, Visual Plastic Godiva Screens, NZ Seating, Serada Ltd, MGM Racing / Kawasaki, Bike Rider Magazine, Ulysses NZ, Aero Machinists, Hamilton Motor Cycles, Neil Powell-Big Bikes, Leisureline Caravans, Kea Motorhomes/ KMC Manufacturing, HPC Coatings NZ, Fleetline / Fibre Reinforced Plastics, Arthur Cleland Cleland Engineering, Richard Ramsey RR Racing, Pete Bradey of Kiwi Construction in the USA, Charles and Jackie DeGuevara Las Vegas, Margaret Aspinall Las Vegas, Dave Tomlinson of DR Design our Webmaster and site host, and Lisa Tomlinson. Plus all of the people who have supported us from home and on the salt flats.

It was great seeing all of you Kiwis and other visitors on the Salt and thank you for your assistance in the pits.

Thank you all for your valued help and assistance in getting us to Bonneville this year.

A Special Thanks from Alan to his wife Violet Thoresen for her valued efforts on the Bonneville trip, and to Andy Goodridge from Te Awamutu who was the Crew Cheif for Black Thunder Racing NZ for Bonneville Speed week 2009, who faced a number of challenges on this trip and for giving up two weeks of his leave to work with the Team on the Salt.

Finally congratulations again to our Team mate Dean Veale who took out the record in his class A-G - 1650cc on his Special Construction Hayabusa - "The White Elephant". Fastest Damned Elephant we have seen!!!