Bonneville Speed Week 2018 was like no other. Lowbrow Land Speed Racing, aka 'Team Lowbrow', consists of four racers competing for a coveted land speed record and their place in the record book. These racers are Tyler Malinky on a fresh 750cc 1950 Triumph build, Kyle Malinky on his 'Silver Bandit' 650cc 1966 Triumph, Alp Sungurtekin from California on his 'T200' 650cc 1950 Triumph partial streamliner and Andy Cox from Canada on his 1000cc 1973 Norton Commando. All four of the racers experienced a bit of success, but not all at the same time. As is often the case at Bonneville, that success came with frustrations, struggle, and puzzling problems. In this article you will hear directly from each racer, sharing their experiences about their week and what they are working on for next year's Bonneville Speed Week.
In 2017 I brought my first race bike, Poison Ivy, back out to the first time since 2011 to reclaim my first record, which had since been broken. I was successful, but came back with many changes I wanted to make to go faster. Instead of heavily modifying Poison Ivy, I figured, "why not build a new bike?" I had a few of the key components laying around and would build the rest. That is how I ended up spending many, many hours designing and building my new bike, which is as-yet unnamed. The frame is a heavily modified 1950 Triumph factory rigid frame. It uses about 12" of the original seat post. The rest of the bike is hand made and heavily modified parts. I spent as much time, or more, thinking about this chassis and designing it as I did actually physically building it. I really enjoyed the process and learned a lot as I went forward. The goal was to build a bike that was as simple as possible, and that allowed almost any part to be removed without having to remove anything else. I also built the engine, final assembling most of it just days before leaving for Bonneville Speed Week, and got it on the dyno the morning of the day we loaded the trailer for the salt. I often have a bit of trepidation before racing a motorcycle I haven't ridden before.
I don't even bother telling myself I will take it easy the first run, because that never happens! The first run went very smooth. Taking off the line my feet fell into position and I felt right at home. It felt as if I had ridden this bike a hundred times before. The maiden voyage went well, though I was jetted too rich for the high altitude and heat of the afternoon and it didn't want to pull over the low 120's and 6200 RPM. I dropped a couple sizes on the main jet and ended up in impound, qualified for a new record. It was the kind of run where I find myself howling and screaming and shouting in my helmet as I pulled off the course, the culmination of months and months of work condensed into a minute and a half on the track. I went to back it up early the next morning but was running out of gas toward the end of the run and couldn't achieve top speed. I was learning about my new bike for sure! No big deal as I was just getting started.
I had a solid run during a sweltering 100 degree afternoon directly into an 11mph head wind and qualified again at 125mph. The next morning, with almost no wind, I topped out at 129mph with an average over the mile of 128.222mph. The two way average brought the A-VG 750cc record from 124.5 to 126.455mph. I changed my gearing to run faster, but the next morning as I was revving through third gear something felt wrong and I pulled off the course. After a bit of inspection I realized that I had spun a connecting rod bearing and was done racing for the week. Despite the engine failure I had a solid race week. The new chassis performed flawlessly, I gained speed over the prior year and there is more yet to come. I have the bike and engine completely apart now and am making some improvements and rebuilding it for the 2019 race season. I keep learning, and I keep going faster. I can't wait for the next race.
- Tyler Malinky
A few words to describe my 2018 Speed Week: Frustrating, Demanding, Exhilarating. I was extremely excited to be back racing, and this year with Tyler, Alp, and Canadian Andy, we had a real team effort. The salt was probably the best its ever been since I can remember back 2011, the year Tyler and I both set multiple records, and judging from the amount of records set at this year's Speed Week by all the competitors racing I think I'm right.
I am already working on cleaning and disassembling the bike, sorting out a few issues and repairs from Speed Week, and doing some serious modifications to the transmission and moving to a later model 5 speed cluster. The goal is run ECTA in April 2019 and show up at Bonneville Speed Week 2019 better prepared, and ready to pick up where I left off and go for that record of 130.713!
- Kyle Malinky
We're anxious to get back on the salt with all we have learned thus far. Within the last couple of weeks we have been building a new bike since the A class ‘Asymmetric Aero’ is at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The new bike is based on an ‘M’ class frame which is a original 1950 rigid Triumph frame. We will continue to test/tune the Target 200 engine on the new bike at the USFRA SCTA sanctioned ‘World of Speed’ event at Bonneville September 14-17th. The ‘M’ frame bike with the T200 engine on it will make logistics easier due to its size and we will get to run it more, we may also break records in the naked classes. We look forward to seeing our theories put to practice and seeing our LSR family out at Bonneville again very soon.
- Alp Sungurtekin
We came into Speedweek as “salt rookies”, and trying to be realistic. The fastest we had ever gone was a 149.2mph in the 1 1/2 mile at Loring, AFB. It was an asphalt course with lots of traction, and it was pretty much at sea level, which made it fairly straight forward to tune the motor. Bonneville is a completely different animal. It sits at 4200ft above sea level, making it difficult to find power in the thin air, and it can easily be over 100ºF throughout the day, adding to the challenge. The salt surface is ever changing, too, so traction is a constant struggle. After talking to salt veterans, and all sorts of other racers, we figured we would maybe be able to squeak out a 140mph pass, and our ultimate goal would be to hit 150mph after we learned some more about the challenging conditions and how to deal with them.
With lots of help from Lowbrow Customs, we got ourselves and our gear down there, and passed tech no problem. I managed to get my rookie pass out of the way with no issues and a 138mph pass. Our second pass brought us into the 140s with a 149.5mph, the fastest we’d ever gone. We where super stoked to be making our goals so fast! On the third pass, I had my first issue, losing track of the mile markers and shutting down early. Expecting a slow run and a quick turnaround to get back on track, it turned out to be the fastest yet, with a speed of 150.5mph before my premature shutdown. It was almost unbelievable, getting a 150 mph pass done on our 3rd run! With a few adjustments, we where back in line looking for a clean run, and wound up with a 154.4mph on our 4th run ever on the salt! This put us in the unexpected position of being just 3mph off the record! The rest of the week started to slide a little bit. Conditions changed, and we struggled to get back to 150mph. The decision was made to stop before we did real damage to the engine. It turns out we bent a valve slightly, and had lost a bit of power. In the end, we felt we had surpassed all of our goals , and had a fantastic rookie week on the salt; better to stop a bit early then to go home with a broken motor or worse.
Getting so close to the record, our goal for next year is pretty clear: set a new record. For Speedweek 2019 we will be looking to break into the 158mph territory, and we have a plan in place to get there. With some aerodynamic modification and some tire changes, we feel it is within reach, and we can’t wait to get back on the salt and see what we can do. We already have the motor apart and we’ll be changing some clearances and refreshing some parts, but we’re happy with the power right now, and we plan to get it all back together and focus on next year. It was an unbelievable experience over all, and I can’t thank Lowbrow Customs enough for helping us make it happen! Big thanks also go out to the King Street Cycles LSR crew; Lori Lackenbauer, Herb Becker, Bill Egan and Jason Keller. Thanks also to Scwartz Inc., Winner’s Circle Motorsports, Town Moto, Walridge Motors, JS Motorsport, and Joker Machine. See you on the salt!
- Andy Cox
- Photos by Mikey Revolt