Memphis driver turns in fastest speed for cars during Loring trials

Steve Van Blarcom of Wallingford, Conn., begins his run with his supercharged 1929 Roadster during the Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event time trials on Sunday. Van Blarcom recorded a speed of 197 mph, just short of his goal of 200 mph.
Tom Hale
Steve Van Blarcom of Wallingford, Conn., begins his run with his supercharged 1929 Roadster during the Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event time trials on Sunday. Van Blarcom recorded a speed of 197 mph, just short of his goal of 200 mph. Buy Photo
Posted July 14, 2013, at 5:35 p.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — The remainder of the Loring Timing Association’s Maine Event was canceled Sunday morning after world record motorcyclist Bill Warner reportedly slid 1,000 feet when he lost control of his motorcycle and then died from injuries suffered during a speed trial at the former Loring Air Force Base.

The 44-year-old Warner of Wimauma, Fla., crashed his highly modified Suzuki motorcycle and slid off the runway while attempting to better his world record speed of 296 mph set earlier in the event.

Other speed-trial races were held before Warner’s crash.

The fastest car at the Loring event was the 540-cubic-inch Pontiac Firebird of George Gallimore, who drove it to 241 mph in the 1.5-mile stretch.

“Loring is very nice. The people here are very nice,” said Gallimore, who is from Memphis.

“The engine has old Pontiac Pro-Stock cylinder heads. This is probably 20-year-old Pro-Stock technology. It makes a little over 1,200 horsepower.”

Jennifer Robertson from Texas set the second-fastest speeds of the event, 229 mph in the mile and topping out at 234 mph in 1.5 miles. She was driving a 285-horsepower Suzuki Hayabusi naturally aspirated motorcycle.

“The trek [to Maine] is rather long but we would not come unless we thought it [Loring] was great,” Robertson said. “The surface is really nice, it is a mile and one half so you get to go longer than the mile tracks.”

Robertson is a high school guidance counselor working with at-risk students in an alternative school.

Gary Gustafson, a Clinton native, made multiple attempts at joining the exclusive 200 MPH Club in his 1976 Corvette with a 406-cubic-inch small-block. The 200 MPH Club is for any racer who travels more than 200 mph and sets a record in their class.

“Our goal was 200 mph. We went 195 in 2012. This time we got it up to 197.25 mph,” Gustafson said.

“We are still shy. We are working for our goal. That is all part of racing,” he added. “I have been racing 10 to 12 years now. People think it is easy to get your goal. We’ve been trying for four years now to get it. We are getting up to speed. If it was easy anybody could do it.”

Bangor’s Dave Sleeper ran his motorcycle on Friday afternoon. However, something in his engine broke and put him out of the event. Sleeper went more than 200 mph in 2012 at the age of 75.

Steve Van Blarcom, a Yarmouth native now living in Wallingford, Conn., was the technical inspector for all cars for the Loring event. He also drove the historic So-Cal Special.

“It is a 1929 Ford roadster on a 1932 frame. It sports a 302-cubic-inch Chevrolet V8 with an 8-71 blower and intercooler,” Van Blarcom said. “It has over 900 horsepower. We came up here to attempt 220 miles per hour. I have piloted the car over 218 mph in the past already. Unfortunately the fastest I could get all weekend was 217 mph.”

Van Blarcom likes the Loring venue.

“One of the reasons why is this runway is superlong. Those who have raced at Bonneville can reach similar speeds here even though Bonneville has five miles of racing and Loring is a mile and a half,” he said.

After several years of trying, local favorite Jason Theriault of Caribou made the 200 MPH Club in his Nissan D21 pickup truck.

“I have been trying for about four years. Pretty amazing! Best feeling yet,” he said.

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