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September 29, 2008
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World's fastest man on two wheels

Rocky Robinson has finally run down his dream - again.

Two years after first shattering the world motorcycle speed record - a mark he held for just two days - he once again owns the title of world's fastest man on two wheels.

Robinson set a new speed record of 360.913 miles per hour early Friday morning aboard the Ack Attack streamliner motorcycle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The record bested the previous mark of 350.884 mph set by Chris Carr, driving the BUB Seven streamliner, owned by Grass Valley's Denis Manning, in 2006.

"I'm walking about nine inches higher than normal," Robinson said Monday, back home in Grass Valley, fresh from the Salt Flats. "We've been chasing this for so long, and having it for such a short period of time before only made us want it more.

"We're really thrilled. No one has run quite that fast. It's real exciting."

Robinson's record run came on the last day of The Top One Shootout, a land speed racing event in its inaugural run. Earlier this month, Robinson participated in the BUB Speed Trials, hosted by Manning, but came nowhere near the world record speed at the time.

Having crashed the bike at the BUB Trials in 2007, his return trip there almost served as just a testing session. Though the team posted the meet's fastest speed, the Ack Attack topped out at 315 mph.

"We had nothing but problems and actually had to build the machine from the ground up," Robinson said. "But, I think we finally got it dialed in."

But that didn't mean it was exactly smooth sailing across the salt, as Robinson said handling issues and instability on the salt - along with gusting winds that nearly blew the Ack Attack off course - caused a few headaches. And then there was a blown mainshaft that required an engine change that challenged the crew, which Robinson reported came through with "flying colors."

His first one-way pass produced a speed of 361 mph, but even there was some trouble on board, he said.

"The hairy part was as I entered the measured mile; at peak speed the right side of the canopy popped open and caught me off guard," he wrote in an e-mail, describing the ride. "Imagine rolling down your window at 60 and then multiplying the effect six times greater. Wow. I rolled out of the throttle, which unfortunately minimized our fastest speed. Still, it was the fastest run recorded on two wheels."

"The return run was a lot of fun. Got to take off and race between the pits with crews and onlookers lining the course on either side at the start. Speeds were about the same. Entering the mile the ride side of the canopy popped open again. This time (because of the turnaround) there was water and salt inside the cockpit that swirled in the air and also sprayed against the windshield."

But even the blizzard blowing about him behind the wheel wasn't enough to stop him from making the Ack Attack the world's fastest motorcycle.

After a celebratory dinner, which was shortlived because the team was so tired, Robinson returned to Grass Valley where he was greeted by more than 250 e-mails and requests for interviews from members of the media. Robinson said the Discovery Channel was on hand for the event, but does not yet know when its footage will be broadcasted.

Robinson's ride for the title began in 1997, driving a streamliner for Denis Manning before eventually joining the Ack Attack team in 2006. He has chronicled his quest in the book "Flat Out: The Race for the Motorcycle World Land Speed Record," which was published in 2007.

Although, now there's a happy ending to add to the tale.

"The book is nearing its second printing," he said, "so we'll see if we can add a final chapter."

For more information on Robinson, visit the Web sit

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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The Union Updated Sep 30, 2008 02:39AM Published Sep 29, 2008 03:00AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.