LIMESTONE, Maine — In the wake of last year’s accident that claimed the life of racer William “Bill” Warner, the Loring Timing Association was confident it took all the necessary precautions and followed all the required protocol for keeping last weekend’s land speed races safe at the former Loring Air Force Base.
“The safety programs are constantly refined, and all land speed venues use information from each other to create as safe an environment as possible,” said Joe Daly, the event coordinator and the association’s motorcycle technical director.
“Land speed racing is a fairly safe motorsport comparing all others. Driving vehicles fast has to, by its nature, present some element of risk. Racers race for the challenge,” Daly added. “This year, we had 500 runs and no broken race cars or bikes. We had perfect weather conditions, as well. The conditions even allowed for one racer, Carl Theriault, to become a new member of the 200 mph club.”
For this year’s event, the Loring Timing Association instituted different procedures that required all vehicles traveling above 200 mph to have an inspection, including both tires, each time the competitor ran.
The Loring Timing Association-sanctioned land speed race is a speed trial event that takes place on the 2 ⅝-mile long Loring Timing Association racetrack, which is the longest asphalt land speed race surface in the world.
The Loring Timing Association dedicated this year’s event to Warner, as they dubbed the Loring Timing Association racetrack Bill Warner Blvd. and placed the customized street sign right at the starting line for spectators and racers alike to pay tribute.
Warner, a speed racer and tropical fish grower from Wimauma, Florida, was the world record holder for fastest speed on a conventional motorcycle. He died on July 14, 2013, from injuries suffered when he lost control of his motorcycle while attempting to reach 300 mph within one mile during a speed trial at the Loring track.
The accident was determined to be the result of a problem with the rear tire, some sort of drive-line failure, according to Daly.
“We weren’t able to figure out the exact reason for the brake line failure, but the rear rim failed, and the rear tire failed,” said Daly.
The exact sequence of events that led to the failure was undetermined, but after Warner’s accident, the Loring Timing Association took a close look at its inspection procedures as compared with other associations, and according to Daly, the Loring Timing Association was in compliance.
When asked what draws so many racers from all across the country to a small town in northern Aroostook County, Daly’s response praised not only the track’s condition but also the environment in which the racers have come to expect at the Loring-based track.
“Loring is blessed with 2-1/2 miles of race course, permitting not only a standing start mile speed opportunity, but also a unique standing start mile and a half speed,” said Daly. “We had racers this year who came from as far away as Oregon, as well as others from Michigan, Illinois, Georgia and all over Maine. They attend for the opportunity to achieve a land speed record and enjoy the fellowship of land speed racing. There are no cash prizes or trophies. The friendly environment and local accommodations make the racers comfortable.”
He explained that it is difficult to find such a long stretch of asphalt in such pristine conditions.
“Loring’s runway is in extraordinary condition. The track is 12,100 feet by 300 feet with an additional 1,000 foot high abrasion asphalt apron on each end,” said Daly. “The racing surface is as smooth as the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is the parent venue for all land speed racing.”