LIMESTONE, Maine — Bill Warner of Wimauma, Fla., driving a turbocharged Suzuki motorcycle, became the fastest man on two wheels Sunday morning at the Loring Timing Association’s Land Speed Race at the former Loring Air Force Base.
Warner’s world speed record of 311.945 miles per hour topped his record 273.356 set last year.
“Today here at Loring we came to do some racing,” said Warner. “We were lucky enough to get a clean pass early this morning. The wind was down. We became the first motorcycle to go over 300 miles per hour.”
What was it like at 300 miles per hour?
“In this situation it was very calm,” Warner replied. “I progressed my speeds up from 180 all the way up to that speed over the past few years, so it was not a traumatic thing to do.
“The big part of it, after the speed happens, is trying to stop the bike. Here at Loring Air Force Base, there is a mile shutdown to slow the vehicles down and I used every bit of it. The bike was bouncing, hopping, skipping and sliding. Needless to say, I got it stopped safely. It was a little scary.”
The fastest car was a sleek gas lakester driven by Robert Dayemheim of Stuart, Fla. Dayemheim blasted his missile-like vehicle to a speed of 240.427 miles per hour at the 1.5-mile Aroostook County track. He easily eclipsed last year’s top speed by a car of 218.113 set by Bob Self of Pennsylvania.
Local favorite Jason Theriault, despite losing his clutch on his last run, turned a top speed of 179.491 mph to set a class record in his 1995 Nissan D21 pickup.
“I will be back next year and I will get over that 200 mile an hour mark,” said the Caribou man. “My truck felt like it was settling in nice at the higher speeds.”
Bangor realtor Dave Sleeper upped his best speed from last year, driving his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle just under 190 miles per hour.
When asked why a 74-year-old guy would try to go 200 miles per hour, Sleeper replied, “Because I did not run 200 at age 73.”
Joe Caron, son of Joe and Annette Caron of Caribou, now lives in Brewer. His 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle turned 187 miles per hour.
Caron said about his first Loring experience, “I would have liked to go 190 mph this year, but I am still pleased with the effort.”
Mel Pentilla of West Gardiner drove the Butler McKenney Racing’s 1957 Studebaker Hawk at the Loring race. His goal was to run as close to 200 miles per hour as he could. Pentilla and his fellow team members, Martin Butler from West Gardiner and Barney McKinney of Richmond, dedicated this year’s effort in memory of their good friend Pete Labonte, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2002.
With an estimated crowd of more than 4,000 spectators and 155 entrants, event director Mark Sotomayor of Easton was very pleased with the third edition of the Loring event.
Sotomayor said, “We are the new home of the motorcycle world record. We had great help from the volunteers, the Loring Development Agency and the National Wildlife Refuge folks. We forward to the next event.”