Motorcycle Land-Speed Record and Writing

800px-Glenn_Curtiss_on_his_V-8_motorcycle,_Ormond_Beach,_Florida_1907What do you think of when you hear the word motorcycle? Freedom. Recreation. Relaxation. Speed. While John shared with us the aspect of freedom last week, I want to talk about speed. Specifically land-speed records set by motorcycles and their riders.

The motorcycle land speed record is the fastest speed achieved by a motorcycle on land. It is standardized as the speed over a course of fixed length, averaged over two runs in opposite directions. These are special or modified motorcycles, distinct from the fastest production motorcycles.

The first generally recognized motorcycle speed record was set unofficially by Glenn Curtiss in 1903, on Ormond Beach, Florida, using a V8 aircraft engine of Curtiss’ own manufacture, housed in a spindly tube chassis with direct shaft drive to the rear wheel. Curtiss was timed at 136.27 mph, making him the fastest man on earth in any vehicle on land or air at that time. The automobile record stood at 76.08 mph, the rail record stood at 126 mph, and the Wright Brothers flew at approximately 9 mph.

In the March 2013 edition of Motor Cyclist Magazine, an article on the land-speed record drew my attention. The race is on for 400 miles an hour. What a change from one hundred years ago.


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On 25 September 2010, Rocky Robinson achieved an average speed of 376.363 mph in his Top Oil-Ack Attack streamliner at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

Will a racer reach 400 miles an hour? Records are made to be broken.

How does all this relate to writing? Our month on motorcycles will be helpful if you need information for a novel or short story involving the two-wheeled modes of transportation. Pushing the limits should not only be related to motorcycles, but also writing and writers. We should never be afraid of new technology or new avenues opening daily in the world of writing. Stretch past the limits of the formulated story to something unique or peculiar. Even if the story never sees the light of day, your imagination has been expanded and new ideas can abound.
And isn’t that what we all want as writers?

Writing prompt: “Salt Flats.” Don mouthed the words on the road sign to his right. His father’s dream, never realized, now fell to his…

4 thoughts on “Motorcycle Land-Speed Record and Writing

  1. Glenn Curtiss. What a great American. Of course Mr. Curtiss went on to found Curtiss aircraft that manufactured the famed P-40, used by the Flying Tigers and many other nations in World War II. So not only was Curtiss a daredevil, he was a pretty good businessman. This goes to writing as well. If you want to be a successful writer it doesn’t just take some writing ability and hard work, it takes business sense and, most of all perhaps, audacity. Mr. Curtiss could have easily been killed in that spindly contraption. And 136 mph on modern a bike is… scary. Go for it! Do something scary!

  2. I had not realized the land speed records belonged to motorcycles. I never even thought about. I guess my eyes were always looking up, waiting for the next sonic boom. 😉

    • Well, it doesn’t actually belong to them. They are classified differently, there are vehicles which go much faster but not classified as motorcycles 🙂

      On Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM, Writing Prompts &Thoughts &

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