Valerie Thompson survived a horrific crash in the Team “7” Racing Streamliner while attempting to capture the world’s fastest motorcycle title during the 28th Annual Speed Week and World Speed Trials competition at the Lake Gairdner dry lake bed in South Australia.
|Photo credit: FIM - Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme|
While falling short of the ultimate goal to become the world’s fastest motorcycle, the team collected a new speed record and proved the superiority of leading-edge streamliner design by team engineers Denis Manning and John Jans.
Hosted by the Dry Lakes Racers Australia (DLRA), the 28th Annual Speed Week competition was open to cars, motorcycles and trucks. The World Speed Trials, a first-time event for motorcycles only, was held March 17-19. Thompson set a new streamliner record of 328.467 mph (528.616 km/h) during the Speed Week competition on March 15, earning her membership in the Dry Lake Racers Australia 200 and 300 MPH Clubs. She is only the second competitor to gain membership in the DRLA 300 MPH Club and was honored with the “Fast Lady on the Lake” award.
Thompson’s attempt to break the world’s overall fastest motorcycle record of 376.36 mph* (605.69 m/h) on the last day of the World Speed Trials went horribly wrong with a horrific crash. According to Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) reports and team video, Thompson had just passed the four-mile marker on a twelve-mile course when the rear of her streamliner rose off the racing surface, sending the vehicle airborne at 343.7 mph. Parachutes slowed the vehicle as it flipped and rolled multiple times, scattering wreckage for more than a mile across the Lake Gairdner salt flats. Thompson walked away with only minor bruises and lacerations.
“We had a singular goal of running 377+ mph to capture the record during the World Speed Trials. We used Speed Week to test and tune the bike, and I’m happy we set a new record and received the ‘Fast Lady on the Lake Award’,“ said Thompson.
“The wreck during the World Speed Trials was unfortunate, but we are not giving up on our quest for the new record. Most importantly, we proved the superiority of the moncoque carbon fiber design and safety features utilized by Denis Manning and John Jans.
“Without their dedication to high speed safety engineering, I would not have walked away - nobody has ever walked away from a 340+ mph crash on a motorcycle. I’d also like to thank the DLRA and all their race course workers who helped ensure my safety,” added a grateful Thompson.
“We’ve not determined what caused the problem - we’ll know more once we analyze the onboard data collection systems and review films in more detail,” said bike designer and AMA Hall of Fame member Denis Manning. “Valerie did an incredible riding job, doing everything she was supposed to and more. All of us at Team “7” Racing are relieved Valerie did not sustain any life-threatening injuries,” added Manning. A video by team member Lou Fischer is available at https://youtu.be/Yl8NDTyeHqg.
Thompson is an eight-time land speed record holder on a variety of bikes ranging from Harley-Davidsons to BMWs and streamliners. She is a member of seven land speed racing 200 MPH Clubs, one 300 MPH Club and the first female to exceed 300 mph in Australia.
*The existing world record was set in 2010 by Rocky Robinson in the twin Hyabusa engined Ack Attack streamliner. It had previously been twice set by Flat Track race legend Chris Carr in an earlier iteration of the current “7” bespoke 3 liter 90-degree V4 engined streamliner. Both teams are engaged in a duel to put the record over the illusive 400 mph mark, with Team Ack Attack having gone to the Salar de Uyuni high altitude (12,500 ft) salt flat in Bolivia - the biggest salt flat on Earth (4,000 sq miles) in the same search for salt that took Valerie Thompson and her team to Australia. The record that Carr set in what was then called the BUB Seven Streamliner (at Bonneville Salt Flats in September 2009) was a two-way average speed of 367.382 mph to set a new FIM-sanctioned International and AMA-sanctioned National land speed record for motorcycles - Carr having piloted it to a 372.534 mph run on the way to that record.