Local racer holds world speed record
There are many prominent figures in motorsports living in Carson Country. One of them is Fritz Klingler of Woodfords, who set a world speed record in October on the Bonneville salt flats in the Modified Pushrod Motorcycle class.
“California Fritz,” as he’s known on the salt, recaptured the record he lost two years ago, putting together back to back runs at 172 mph and 171.8 mph.
The record was all the sweeter because of the monumental effort it took, with Fritz working through the night to put together an engine for the run. It was his last ride on the “Salt Shaker,” a name his 2000cc Harley Davidson bike acquired due to the engine vibrations that cause Bonneville’s salt to “dance”.
“I’ll be 50 years old next month, and my reflexes aren’t what they were,” confided Klingler.
However, he’s not giving up his passion, just changing classes. He’s building a Harley streamliner, which he hopes to pilot past the 200 mph barrier in 2001.
Fritz has been building and racing Harleys for 30 years while financing his passion by flying for Emery Air Freight and piloting corporate jets. However street racing, drag racing, and hillclimbing took a back seat when he first got his look at Bonneville in the mid-80s.
He immediately set out to build a land-speed record bike, and has faithfully returned to the salt twice a year for the last 10 years. In 0ctober 1992, he shattered the old record of 151 mph with a blistering run at 163.335.
He later upped the mark to over 168 mph, and also set a record of 146 mph in the Partial Streamlined class. Not content with running at Bonnevile, he also set a 165 mph record at the El Mirage Dry Lake Beds as well.
Although nominally a Harley-Davidson, Fritz’s machine has a myriad of modifications. The engine case is his own design, and is fabricated by Delkron Manufacturing of Sacramento.
A lot of trial and error and blown engines helped to refine the design. The engine uses a pair of pistons that measure 4 inches in diameter. They’re from a Chrysler 426 hemi. Delkron is currently working on a billet case for Fritz’s new streamliner.
“The folks at Delkron have really been supportive. I couldn’t have done this without them,” said Fritz.
He also receives sponsorship help from a couple of local companies, Harley Davidson Credit in Carson City and Paughco in Mound House. Harley dealers in Glendale, Calif., and Chesapeake, Md., also support Fritz’s efforts.
Fritz also gives a lot of credit to his faithful crew, who show up twice a year at Bonneville for August’s Speed Week and October’s World Finals.
Locals Bill Donahoe of Genoa and “Dr. Smash” from Carson City are joined by a group of Californians to tune and maintain the “Salt Shaker.”
Ron and Tom Goralski hail from Salt Point, Gerry Morris is from Berkeley, and “Mr. G.” resides in Fort Bragg. Like many soldiers in the racing wars, they volunteer their time for love of the sport.
If you’d like to try your hand at a world speed record, the “Salt Shaker” is for sale. Fritz is anxious to sell the bike so he can use the proceeds to build his new streamliner.
The new bike will be fully enclosed, with the driver seated in front of the engine in a reclining position, much like Formula or Top Fuel cars.
Fritz has designed the frame, engine and bodywork, although he said the bodywork will require a lot of fine adjustment during test runs.
For more information on Bonneville events, contact the Southern California Timing Association at (805) 526-1805. And if you’re in the market for a very fast motorcycle or have some sponsorship money burning a hole in your pocket, call Fritz Klingler at (530) 694-2521.