Speedster eyes bike land speed record

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Motorcycle man Phil Garrett alongside the two bikes that will be involved in the record attempt. (Euan Cameron Photography)

By Mick Jensen

Motorcycle speedster Phil Garrett is aiming to travel at 100 metres per second when he attempts to break the national motorcycle land speed record in Mid Canterbury next month.

Garrett is aiming for 320kmh, the equivalent of 200mph.

If he achieves it, he will enter the record books again and also be eligible to join the exclusive 200mph Red Hat Club.

In 2005 Garrett and Flying Kiwi team mate Glenn Hayward broke the world and New Zealand land speed record for 1000cc sidecars over a flying kilometre.

A speed of 272 kmh (168mph) was recorded on a section of another Mid Canterbury rural road near Pendarves.

Garrett said the April speed record attempt has been a long time in the making and followed a visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA in 2008.

“If you travel over 200mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats they award you a red hat, an exclusive club membership coveted by many and achieved by few.”

The Englishman, who has been a Christchurch resident for over 20 years, said there was unfinished business from 2005 and he was keen to see another record broken.

Two turbo bikes, one ridden by Garrett, and another by former Ashburton man Rob Small will attempt to break the land speed record.

Like the sidecar record attempt, the bikes have been pretty much built from scratch.

One features some input from clever local engineers and has planetary gears fitted inside the rear wheel and also parts from a BMW gearbox, which gives the bike 50 per cent overdrive.

The other is a 1985 750 Turbo Kawasaki that is heavily modified and now produces around 250hp at the rear wheel.

Attempts to get to Bonneville with the bikes have been thwarted over the last few years by logistics, strikes and bad weather, said Garrett.

“We decided to change the target and to attempt the outright motorcycle land speed record for New Zealand instead.

“The fastest anyone has gone officially here is Johnny Hepburn from Timaru who went 307kmh on a Britten in 2000,” he said

Garrett has once again chosen a long, straight Mid Canterbury back road for his attempt and has applied for all the necessary permits and approvals. In 2005 he compiled 25 pages of logistical and health and safety material to support his attempt, and this time it’s risen to a hefty 60 pages.

He has also once again received strong support from the local community, including Ashburton Car Club, Ashburton Motorcycle Club and local enthusiast Brendan Price.

Garrett says he intends hosting a meeting at the Pendarves Hall in the coming weeks to thank the community for its support and to explain what he is aiming to achieve. He did the same thing 15 years ago, and also visited Chertsey School.

“I realise this attempt is a privilege for me and not a right. I am very grateful for the opportunity and the tremendous support I’ve been given, including from local landowners.”

Garrett’s attempt at the land speed record will be filmed by drone and his supporters will be there to cheer him on.

There will be other teams aiming to break class records and Garrett himself will also ride a homebuilt electric motorbike created by fellow motorcycle builder Sytse Tacoma that he hopes to take to over 160kmh and into the record books.