Must go faster!
August 2, 2002
Fritz Klingler doesn’t have a death wish, he just wants to go fast — really fast.
In a machine he designed and custom-built himself, Klingler will attempt to break the land speed record for a Streamline Pushrod Gas style motorcycle on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He has five days in which to do it, Aug. 11-15, and can make as many attempts as he wants.
“Even if I break it, I can run again and try to go quicker,” said Klingler, who works in Carson City and lives in Markleeville.
The record in this division stands at 178 mph. Klingler hopes to hit 200 mph in his motorcycle he dubbed “The Shaker.”
“Why do I want to do this? Because I like racing and I like going fast,” he said with a broad smile. “I’m so wired up and ready to go, I could do it now.”
Klingler posted a record in 2000 at 172 mph on a conventional motorcycle, a 1970 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead.
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The motor built for this division and motorcycle is from a 1970 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. It is a gasoline-powered motor fueled by a carburetor, which makes it harder to obtain higher speeds. No turbos are blowers are allowed. He will run 110 octane for fuel.
“I measured the body and weight of the car along with the horsepower, which is about 130, and put all the numbers through a computer and the figures show it should do 250 mph. I just wanna go 200. I’ll be keeping an eye on the gauges, the tach and the fuel pump.”
The motorcycle’s design allows spectators to see only the rider’s head, which is visible through the canopy. It is not possible to see the rider from either side. Wheelbase is unlimited, but it must make a single track. Power must be transmitted through the rear wheel only. Steering must be done with the front wheel only.
Should anything go wrong, there are safety features on the motorcycle to help keep Klingler from being injured. If the bike leans 40 degrees or more to either side, two 5-foot safety parachutes will deploy. The degree is measured by an inner mercury level, designed by Klingler.
He will also be fitted with a “kill string” attached to his wrist that will shut down the engine, should he raise his arm.
“There’s also two halon fire systems manually deployed by me if there’s a fire in the engine compartment or cockpit,” he said.
Klingler will first be required to do a series of test runs to ensure safety equipment is fully operational. The bike is equipped with two skids underneath for balance, which he will raise when he reaches about 40 mph.
Klingler estimates the cost of the motorcycle at $20,000, or $75,000 when his time and labor are added in.
“I’ve been working on it for three years,” Klingler said.
“First I designed the body of the motorcycle with paper machZ; that took about a year. And I’ve built the frame and the motor. After I designed the body shape, I molded it from fiberglass. That took another year,” he said.
Events running from Aug. 10-15 will be documented by the Southern California Timing Association. The Discovery Channel will also be there to film for a future television feature. More than 300 riders are expected to attempt to break records in a number of divisions.
The front wheel measures 17 inches across and is a road racing tire designed for speeds up to 300 mph. The rear is a 16-inch Harley-Davidson wheel.
When he’s not working on his fast toy, Klingler, 52, can be found working as a stage tech at the Upstage Center in Carson City or the Starlight Amphitheatre in Genoa.
“I’ve been racing at Bonneville for about 15 years,” Klingler said. I’ve been racing motorcycles since I was 15 years old. It took ’em that long to chase me off the streets.”
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