Markleeville man sets land speed record on motorcycle at 196 mph
“We did it!”
Those were the words from an exuberant Fritz Klingler on Thursday morning after breaking a land-speed record on his rocket-like motorycle at just over 196 mph.
Klingler, 52, who works in Carson City and lives in Markleeville, went to the Bonneville Salt Flats on Saturday to break the land speed record in the streamline pushrod gas style motorcycle division. He had five days to do it.
At 7 a.m. on the last day, he broke the record at 196.208 mph.
“It was right at the last minute,” Klingler said. “We cut it down to the wire. I had to be back to work tonight.”
Klingler has spent the last three years building his motorcycle, “The Shaker,” from the ground up. The motor is from a 1970 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. He’s put more than $30,000 into building it.
“It’s been a pretty rough week out there. Things were breaking down on us. We started with tons of problems,” he said. “First the parachutes kept popping out when I started — it would throw me to the ground, slid me on my side.
“Then, I was so excited, I hit the accelerator too quick and spun around in front of everybody. I crashed twice.”
Klingler said on his qualifying run he was not supposed to go over 100 mph. He went 136.
“I was too busy to watch my gauges. And the lines were really long; there were 300 people there trying to break records.
“Then the starter quit and we had to rebuild it. It was one thing after another.”
Klingler made one pass at 172 mph Wednesday morning. But he said the bike was wobbling badly and it was scary. He found there was not enough air in the tires, the reason for the wobble.
“I was nervous. I had lots of butterflies,” Klingler said. “Stuffed inside that canopy, it’s very claustrophobic. Plus it was 100 degrees outside and, waiting my turn, I was very uncomfortable.
“But once it was my turn, the excitement and nervousness would go away.”
Down the salt flats he flew, with the Southern Timing Association recording his speed.
“I know I passed the clocks at faster than 200 mph; they got me at 196.208. That’s the new official record.
“The old record was 176 mph, I walked all over that. That was my goal.”
Klingler returned home Thursday to his job of preparing a stage set for an upcoming Starlight Amphitheatre concert. But his mind is already on October — the World Finals.
“I have to clean up the bike; it’s scratched all over. And make some changes in the parachutes. I need to find out why the electric switches and valves I used were failing. I want to go to the World Finals in October. I’m hoping to go over the 200 (mph) mark and break my own record.
“I had lots of fun. It was better than sex.”