Streamliners On the Salt At the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials

A look inside Valerie Thompson’s streamliner at the BMST.

Bonneville racing fuel
High-octane racing fuel is available for all racers on the Salt.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

Streamliners are extremely delicate machines that are sensitive to nature’s wind. They’re great in a straight line under perfect (meaning no wind) conditions.

Most riders have had carte blanche when it comes to runs. Some have done at least five to six runs (one way) and a select few others have invoked the FIM to get a decent record by running both ways within a two-hour window.

Team 7 streamliner
With winds and electrical gremlins delaying the run, we get a look at Valerie Thompson’s Team 7 Streamliner engine and turbo.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto
Valerie Thompson streamliner
"Tuning devices" inside the cockpit of Valerie Thompson’s #7 Streamliner.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

That said, Valerie Thompson and her Team 7 Streamliner is the big ship that many have been waiting to see on the Salt.

This machine is 27 feet long with a width of roughly 36 inches. The cockpit is only three feet wide at best. If you have any claustrophobia issues don’t even think about doing this because it’s cozy, very cozy.

Triumph streamliner
This Rolls-Royce and it’s Triumph have been coming to the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials for at least 10 years, driven from Vancouver.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

So I left all her engineers with their laptops working on the “gremlins” (as Valerie called them) and went to see what else was happening and as such, a walk around the paddock was in order. Everyone was under a wind stop. Streamliners such as Valerie’s Team 7 machine will not run if there are winds over 3.5 mph. Generally speaking, if the winds are over 10 or 11 mph then everyone else will be affected and will not run either.

John works on his Harley-Davidson-badged Aermacchi 350 Sprint.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

As a result of the high winds that blew through the night before, many of those who were in attendance had removed the EZ-Up covers so the paddock was full of skeletal frames. Be it in MotoGP, WSBK or land speed record attempts there's always engine tuning, cleaning, work to be done in readiness for the next attempt or race. The difference in this competition is you're racing yourself. Everyone who gets to the Salt Flats is trying to improve themselves, and not necessarily beat anyone else. The goal is to be faster than your last run.

Street signs on the salt
Looks like somebody stole some street signs…Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto
AMA Bonneville
AMA's base camp Salt Station ZeroAndrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto
Sodium Distortion
Not Social Distortion, but Sodium Distortion.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto