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Bonneville 2015/16 Chapter 8

Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Canceled, Team Updates—We Have a Year to Regroup

By Bandit with photos by Wrench, and illustrations from the Atomic Dice Team

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This has been a very strange weather pattern year for the Bonneville Salt Flats. One day, it can be a mess and three days later, it's ready to race. I spoke to Bill Woods yesterday and the salt has been under constant investigation. It rained again last Friday (August 14), and yesterday the team members studied the salt conditions. "We only have access to one track, and no dry pit areas," Bill said.

Unless the gods of salt racing step up quick, the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials are canceled for 2015.

That was interesting news, since two of our bikes weren’t ready to rock, but Ray C. Wheeler’s 5-Ball rocket, the turbo-charged S&S 124-incher, with Hayabusa suspension was tuned and itching to smell the salt at 200 mph. As a team we were poised to support Mr. Wheeler with crew, riders, tools, you name it. Then the rain came.

I spoke to Lee Clemens about the replacement engine for the Bonne Belle 1040 45 flathead, and his vintage engine builder decided to retire. Departure Bike Works is a mainstay in Richmond, Virginia. It’s been a family-owned and operated enterprise for about 40 years. It survived the economic downturn and constant financial fluctuations in our society, plus the Internet, which brings up a story.

The Internet is cool, but it doesn’t come close to replacing the veteran independent shop for knowledge and experience. If you have a shop like this in your area support it. Lee built numerous award-winning custom motorcycles over the years, thousands of performance engines, and ran a winning pro-stock drag team for 25 years. He knows his shit, and where to put it, what special tools are needed, and what other parts will be required to get the job done.

Bottom line, our little modified 45 engine wasn’t ready for installation. Lee is installing a Sportster bottom end, including Timken bearings in the left case. The pinion shaft into the right case must be modified. We will install larger valves. Then he has a plan for the oil pump to install late-model gears for enhanced scavenging. We consulted with Duncan Keller on the oil pump, and will make a spacer block to expand the oil pump.

I’ve been trying to reach Kent Weeks, from Lucky Devil Metal Works in Houston Texas, another amazing talent in out industry, and a one-man show who is about to start bending tubing and making our Salt Torpedo frame.

These hard-working, knowledgeable guys, represent bike shops and small business, the backbone of American enterprise. Here are my two stories regarding the Internet and Wal-Mart. The Internet is cool, but it doesn’t compare to walking in a shop and asking questions about a product you need. It doesn’t come close. If you need to spend an extra five bucks to buy at the local shop, look at the product, feel it, get a review, and all you need to know about installation, it is worth bundles of cash.

Here’s my quick Wal-Mart story. I flew to Alaska to be in a wedding. We rented a van and blasted directly to Wal-Mart. I can still visualize the mall on the outskirts of town. We bought booze, food, salmon fishing gear, our licenses, you name it. When I got home I read about how Wal-Mart destroys small business, and I slapped myself. I ignored every small business in town for the cheap convenience of Wal-Mart. I swore, no more Wal-Mart ever.

Speaking of small businesses, I’m working with the Atomic Dice terrorist family organization on several levels. First, we developed our Salt Torpedo redheaded mascot for our trike Bonneville effort. Then we decided to use the same team on a concept drawing. It’s difficult to explain the first trike streamliner and belly tanks. Only the old school are familiar with belly tanks from WWII and how they became low-buck hot rods packed with flathead V-8s.

Mr. Atomic got it immediately and started to sketch his notions. We also faced an issue with the pilot illustration, as you will see. The Atomic Dice is the master of monsters.

5-Ball Leather flash.
5-Ball Leather flash.

In fact the Emperor of 5-Ball Racing Marketing, Prince Najar from Nepal, hired Mr. Atomic to be on standby to paint on our 5-Ball Leathers for customers. In fact, this deal leads to the following announcement:


Info from the Atomic Dice family!

We have great news in a potential business venture with a PPG brand paint made specific for leathers.

The company approached us as artists because they heard about our involvement with painting leather jackets for 5-Ball. We have a PPG tour set up for the 27th at 3:00 p.m. and we will be doing a sample test piece at their location on a car seat.

The possibilities for this paint are very exciting and can translate from leather jackets to motorcycle seats and so on. They feel they can sponsor us as artists and supply the paint for us in exchange for YouTube videos endorsing their paint.

We tried the Bikernet logo head.
We tried the Bikernet logo head.

Deal!!! I spoke with my queen and she agreed! The challenge with painting these monsters is keeping them fresh and new but still sticking to the rules of lowbrow monsterdom.

I feel I pulled Salty one off. This may be one of my last with the colored pencil. I use Bristol and can easily now get some beautiful effects and colors with the airbrush. We have three daughters and as I type this, I am at cheerleader practice.

We need road time with bikes, and adults!! My little pony gets to me after a while!! We just keep striving forward and pushing on, bigger, better, and more importantly extra fun!!!

Together, with the talented Mr. Atomic and the Queen behind him, we completed the Salt Torpedo concept drawing. Now, we just need to complete the trike and go racing.

We are also trying to find a FIM trike rulebook. We need to follow the rules or die trying. Lee is also working on a vintage H-D Sprint for the salt. If it all comes together, we will have a major line-up for 2016. Hang on for more reports.

JIMS Machine

Lucky Devil Metal Works

Atomic Dice
Click for the Atomic Team
Click for the Atomic Team

5-Ball Racing Leathers

Just Click for action.
Just Click for action.

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