Car, motorcycle competitors to seek record speeds at Loring’s Land Speed Races

By Tom Hale, Special to the BDN
Posted July 10, 2012, at 8:03 p.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — Horsepower, laws of physics, invisible forces of the wind, and raw speed will combine this weekend at the Loring Timing Association’s Land Speed Races at the former Loring Air Force Base.

More than 150 cars and motorcycles will test their skills at the third annual Loring Timing Association Maine Event with races beginning at noon Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.

Competitors will attempt to set records at the mile and 1.5-mile distances on two of Loring’s 2.5-mile runways. This year, to increase the number of runs completed, the second runway will enable vehicles that run less than 135 mph and others to tune their race rides before making record attempts.

“We have motorcyclist Bill Hosler from Long Beach, California, traveling the greatest distance,” race director Tim Kelly of Presque Isle said. “Our first electric motorcycle will be driven by Eva Hakasson from Gothenburg, Sweden. She has the potential to go 300 miles per hour on that electric-powered motorcycle.”

“World record holder, Bill Warner of Wimauma, Florida, who set the mark at 311.945 mph in 2011 on the 1.5-mile track, plans to attempt 300 mph in the mile at Loring,” Kelly added.

He expects the fastest car to travel around 225 mph.

Steve Van Blarcon from Wallingford, Conn., is one of the favorites to reach this mark with his 1929 Ford Roadster.

Land Speed racing veteran, 75-year-old Dave Sleeper from Bangor will be racing his Kawasaki ZX 14 motorcycle. Last year Sleeper drove his motorcycle 188 mph.

“My goal is to hit 200 mph this year,” Sleeper said.

Limestone’ s Jesse Michaud will attempt to have the world’s fastest dirt bike when he sets his sights on the 132 mph record which was set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

“I have a 2005 Yamaha YZ 250. It will normally travel 65 or 70 mph on dirt. Gearing is the big reason for this speed,” Michaud said. “Last year before the fall event I got the bike, I changed the sprockets, came out here and ran 101 mph.

“This year it’s a whole other motor and transmission plus we added nitrous on top of it. The nitrous makes it feel like infinite boost. My game plan is to get licensed at 125 which will allow me to run up to 150. The bike is safety certified to 150,” he added.

Michaud is looking forward to competing against international motorcyclists.

“It is the fastest piece of land speed asphalt in the world,” he said.

“Spectators will see a lot of motorcycles, cars and hot rods that you will not typically see. There is a really large amount of unique stuff.”

One such hot rod making its Loring debut is the 1972 Chevelle driven by Dwayne Gagnon of Caribou.

There’s a lot behind the shiny, gloss black Chevrolet.

“It is a frame up restoration by JRT Customs of Caribou. It has a Corvette drivetrain underneath it. Also different wheels and tires, high-performance brakes and a fuel-injected LS 454 small block,” Gagnon said. “It is made to handle the speed. It is old sheet metal with new technology. Thanks to JRT Customs, he is an unbelievable worker. He can get stuff done in half the time that anyone else can.”

Gagnon said his goal is to reach 175 mph.

“A stock Chevelle will only do about 100 mph. My background is with street cars, mostly Subaru WRXs, and truck pulling my GMC DuraMax diesel throughout the state of Maine,” he said. “I would also like to do the autocross at Loring [August 11 and 12]. The car is set up for autocrossing too.”

Jason Theriault, owner of JRT Customs of Caribou, plans to bring his 1995 Nissan D21 pickup back to Loring to reach the elusive 200 mph mark.

Theriault went 174.9 mph at last summer’s event. In an attempt to reach 200 mph, he has changed the transmission, driveshaft and went through the engine, again.

“I think there is only one other pickup that land speed races that is faster,” Theriault said. “He is like 210 mph in the Jesel Ignition truck.”

Theriault has devised a strategy to reach 200 mph.

“You will not even hear me come onto it until the mile mark,” he said. “At one mile I will give it everything it has got.”

In addition to the 1972 Chevelle of Dwayne Gagnon and his personal race truck, Theriault prepared a 1987 Mustang for Carl Theriault, a Rochester Institute of Technology graduate and electrical engineer from Northboro, Mass. The Mustang was prepared in one month by the Caribou fabricator.

Carl Theriault, no relation to JRT’s Jason Theriault, is aiming to join the 200 mph club.

“I have a 1987 Mustang LX that started as a four cylinder that now has eight cylinders with a ‘little more’ power,” Theriault said. “It is a 427 small block Ford that turns 8,000 rpms and makes a little over 700 horsepower.”

Theriault explained that his car is dropped down and has a One G suspension from Kaufman Company out of California.

“The gas coupe class that I will enter allows only minimal changes. It is supposed to be like the original car,” Theriault said. “In my case I had a motor change which got me into the gas coupe class rather than production class.”

Theriault licensed his car for 150 mph last year, but increased to 175 mph for this weekend.

“Anything over 175 requires a chute and you must pull it every time down the track. My chute is a 12-foot chute,” he said.

Theriault grew up on his parents farm in Caribou.

“I always had the motorsports bug. The Dukes of Hazzard solidified it. I had several field cars long before got my license,” he said. “You were always working on the farm mechanically doing whatever you had to do.”

He attended last year’s event and got motivated to compete.

“Last July, I was at the second annual Loring Speed Trials and smelled all that fuel burning. The Mustang was in storage for five years and I figured that there was no reason for it to be in storage,” Theriault said. “It is a full-out race car now with the help of JRT Customs.”

Spectators at the Loring Speed Trials may walk around the pits, according to Kelly.

“Everyone is friendly since they are not running for money. Record runs will probably occur early Saturday or Sunday morning,” he said.

“Bring something to sit on since there is only limited bleacher seating near the start line. Bring your bug spray and binoculars.”

There will be food vendors and a VIP viewing area near the speed trap for $40. Cost of admission for all three days is $15.

For information on the event, visit www.LTA-LSR.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/10/sports/car-motorcycle-competitors-to-seek-record-speeds-at-lorings-land-speed-races/ printed on December 20, 2014