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Go, Land Speed racer: Day 6

August 29, 2014
Hattori Hanzo

Hattori is ready to race! (Photos courtesy Jaylin Billig)

The sixth and final day of racing found Jaylin in line at the gate at the crack of dawn. Three hundred bikes and riders, give or take, were looking to get runs in before the 4:00 pm Thursday deadline.

Hattori was in fine fettle, teched, fueled (competitors have to use the official gasoline) and ready to go. Go wait in the pre-staging line, that is.

For six hours.

As Jaylin has noted, patience is a virtue in Land Speed racing.

Pre-staging line

What’s the significance of number 8887? The Japanese consider 8 a lucky number, but 8888 was taken.

At 3:00, the call to the starting line came. Hattori needed a jump start, but ran strong. “The salt was beautiful,” Jaylin recalled. “So smooth!” She was pleasantly surprised when officials cleared her return run in minutes; again, Hattori ran strong and sure. “I had tucked so small, I was looking at the salt,” describing her position on the bike. Sixty-five mph down, 59 return; official speed, 62 mph.

Again, she and Hattori were moved quickly to the teardown area. Displacement certified! A new record!

Well, not quite.

“One of the officials came over and said, ‘we have a problem’,” recalled Jaylin. Her heart sank, she wondered what she’d done.

Jaylin

Jaylin

Happily, there was no rules infraction. Just a minor administrative detail—there’s no 175cc Classic Motorcycle class.

I’m sure you’re thinking, why did no one notice until now? Apparently the rulebook lists displacements for the class in a table, but the smallest displacement is 350cc. After conferring with AMA officials, the decision was made to bump Hattori up into the 350 class, which had two other competitors.

Neither completed the required down and back passes, so Jaylin was awarded the class record.

In spite of bouts of poor weather and long waits in line, Jaylin heads for home with her goals met, new speed records for both bikes in her pocket. That’s got to feel good.

“It does. It feels SO good!”

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