Motorcycle Endurance Racing Record - Fred Ham

New Record at Talledega

At 5:30 a.m., daybreak had begun, and Stanfield was making better time than he had all night. Where, throughout the night, he had been running laps between 1:55 and 2:00, Stanfield increased his speed as the sun continued to rise, and was turning between 1:49 and 1:52 laps from that point on. Running these times, Stanfield was averaging about 90 mph per lap. "He was getting nearly 105 (mph) on the front stretch but the headwind on the back straight-away was holding him to about 80," said Walksler. "And the best part was that the bike was holding up great."

Stanfield, who has always been considered an "iron man" by his friends, partners, and competitors, showed no signs of wearing down. He had made it through his first 16 hours without a hiccup, and was getting faster as time went on. Each pit stop, about every hour on average, he assured the crew that he was feeling great and would have no problem finishing the duration of the run. "We knew that Wayne would hold up well" commented Walksler of Stanfield, who had undergone strict diet, exercise, and sleep regiments in preparation for the run. "Our biggest worry was his ability to maintain speed at night, and he showed us that wasn't a problem."

By 10:00 a.m., Stanfield brought the bike back for another quick service. The primary chain, which has always been considered one of the first parts to wear at high speeds, had stretched beyond repair. The crew, ready for such a problem, dove in and had Stanfield back out on the track in less than fifteen minutes. As the new chain began to break in, Wayne was back on his old pace of 1:50 per lap.

As the clock struck noon, Stanfield had covered just under a thousand miles. He was running his fastest times of the day, averaging about 1:48 per lap. His fastest lap, recorded at 12:31 p.m., was 1 minute 46.11 seconds. "Running continuously at 95 miles per hour on a seventy year old motorcycle can scare the daylights out of you," said Stanfield. "All I could do was keep the throttle wide open and stay out of the wind."

As the day progressed, it was becoming apparent that Fred Ham's record would still stand, despite a valiant effort by Stanfield and the Wheels Through Time race crew. However, the thought of slowing down never crossed Stanfield's nor the crew's minds. They continued to increase speed and decrease lap times for the duration of the run. The bike showed no new signs of wear and it became clear that Stanfield and the '37 would make it to 24 hours.

As his elapsed time reached 23 hour 30 minutes, Stanfield passed the pits, right hand pinning the throttle and left hand giving a thumbs up to his crew. The fifty-plus crew members, fans and special guests erupted with emotion. Although they knew the 1825-mile mark wouldn't be surpassed, the sheer magnitude of what they were about to accomplish began to sink in. Never in the history of motorcycling had a seventy year old motorcycle ran for 24-hours at high speed, nor had any rider or driver ran for 24-hours at the Talladega Superspeedway. Wayne Stanfield would be the first to do both.

As the final seconds ticked away, Stanfield flew by the pits completing his 477th lap, totaling just over 1350 miles in 24 hours. The small crowd on hand would again erupt, applauding Stanfield through his final lap and onto pit road. Stanfield, with a sigh of relief, pulled off his helmet and let out an ear to ear grin. It was finished.

Although he did not match the 1825-mile record set in 1937, he did break several records at the speedway itself. Wayne, piloting the 1937 Fred Ham Special, set the record for most consecutive laps at Talladega, with a total of 477 completed. Stanfield also became the only rider/driver to run for 24 hours on the Superspeedway. Other records also include traveling the most miles in a 24-hour period at Talladega, and most miles completed by a seventy year old motorcycle over 24-hours.

"Upon comparing the two runs, we've found some close similarities," said Walksler. Although Stanfield and his crew covered less than 75 miles in the first three and a half hours, the rest of the run was done in record breaking style. "During the last 18 hours of the run, we managed to surpass the miles that Ham covered during that time. Had it not been for the early mishaps, the possibility of breaking Ham's record would have come down to the wire".

All in all, both Stanfield and Walksler were extremely happy with the results. "Wayne persevered through any problems that arose, and made a great run at history without even the slightest debacle. I could not be more proud of what he has accomplished."

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