Bangor’s Dave Sleeper joins 200 mph club at Loring’s Land Speed Races

Posted July 15, 2012, at 5:49 p.m.
Bangor's Dave Sleeper went 200.540 mph at the Loring Speed Trials Land Speed Races and set a record in his class, making him eligible for the Loring Timing Association's 200 mph club. Theresa Brown of LTA recognizes Sleeper with a club commemorative cap while Sleeper's wife Anne looks on.
Tom Hale
Bangor's Dave Sleeper went 200.540 mph at the Loring Speed Trials Land Speed Races and set a record in his class, making him eligible for the Loring Timing Association's 200 mph club. Theresa Brown of LTA recognizes Sleeper with a club commemorative cap while Sleeper's wife Anne looks on.

LIMESTONE, Maine — Bangor’s Dave Sleeper accomplished his goal of 200 mph when he raced his Kawasaki ZX 14 four-cylinder motorcycle to a personal best of 200.540 mph Sunday morning during the Loring Timing Association’s Land Speed Races at the former Loring Air Force Base.

“Yeeeeha!” said Sleeper, a Bangor realtor, after returning to the pits. “We changed the gearing so that my rpms would go higher.”

Sleeper said the weather conditions and a tailwind were “perfect, absolutely perfect. Conditions could not have been better.”

Sleeper, 75, was inducted into the exclusive 200 mph club, which is for those who set a class record and go 200-plus mph in land speed events.

Competitors flocked to Loring on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in attempts to set records at the mile and 1.5-mile distances on two of Loring’s 2.5-mile runways.

Bill Warner from Wimauma, Fla., returned to the Limestone venue and did not disappoint as he drove his turbocharged Suzuki motorcycle to a record 290 mph in the mile. Warner’s objective was to reach the 300 mph mark in the mile.

“No we didn’t [reach the goal]. I actually made a mistake,” Warner said. “We wanted to see if we could break 300 in the mile. The bike I know was capable of doing it. I made the mistake of miscounting my shifts. I thought I was in sixth gear when I was in fifth gear and it just didn’t do it. I am not happy with my run but am satisfied.”

The fastest car of the Speed Trials was garnered by Wallingford, Conn.’s Steve VanBlarcom, owner of Street Rod Steve’s Garage. VanBlarcom’s 1929 Ford roadster sits on an authentic 1932 Ford Frame. SoCal Speed Shop in Pomona, Calif., built the original car in 1946 for Jimmy Shine who campaigned the racer at the west coast speed trials including El Mirage and Bonneville.

The Chevy 302 engine develops 900 horsepower, enough to set the meet top speed at 211 mph in 1.5 miles on Friday.

“We came back [Saturday] with high high hopes of doing something better and blew the motor in second gear,” he said. “I will be back at the event in September where we will run the event again. The fact with Loring is that I can turn the same speeds at 1.5 miles as I could in five miles in Bonneville. I don’t have salt and I don’t have to travel that far.”

Van Blarcom serves as the head technical inspector for the Loring Timing Association.

Colt Bateman of Plymouth, N.C., drove the Karl Gunter owned 2007 1635 cc naturally aspirated Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle — an engine that is not supercharged, or turbocharged, instead it pulls its own air in.

“We destroyed the 1650 fuel class record. The record went from 222 mph to 235.77 mph. We found out in the mile the 230 we ran was faster than the nitrous class,” Bateman said. “We did it all motor naturally aspirated.”

The motorcycle drag racer set the mark despite less than 10 runs in land speed racing.

Sweden’s Eva Hakansson, driving her electric powered KillaCycle motorcycle streamline, came with a goal of 200 mph and came close with a mile-run speed of 159.29 mph and a 1.5-mile run of 181.053 mph. A small electrical glitch would not allow her to apply full throttle to her battery-powered machine.

Canadian Paul Calaguiro came all the way from Ontario to attempt 150 mph in his 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero.The four cylinder Ford Pinto 2.3 liter engine powered the racetrack in 148 mph.

Local favorite Jason Theriault of Caribou turned in a speed of 190 mph Friday in his JRT Customs Nissan D21 minipickup for the fastest speed of all Aroostook County entrants.

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