Saturday, March 08, 2014


Stuart Hooper with his ultra-fast single-cylinder Velocette-based 732cc special, with his record speed of 183.37mph
Stuart Hooper of Australia has been featured several times on The Vintagent via his exploits with a Velocette-based special land speed record machine.  His supercharged 732cc one-lung beast is more interesting every year, as are his adventures on the salt of Lake Gairdner, the Australian version of the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Racing was cancelled in 2011/12 due to wet conditions, as the lake is the only catchment for a huge landlocked watershed in South Australia, with rainwater entering at only one point on the northern tip of the lake, and taking its sweet time to drain as the lake broadens out over 270 square miles.

Hooper and his team of Velocette arch-enthusiasts have brought the bike to Bonneville as well as Lake Gairdner, and are currently, as far as I know, the World's Fastest single-cylinder motorcycle with a 'normal' riding position.  A full 'cigar' body would likely net them the World's Fastest without an asterisk!  As generally reliable as the Velo has been, there's still drama on the salt; imagine a 'hiccup' from a nitromethane backfire locking the rear wheel at on.

From Stuart Hooper yesterday: "The Big Velo has run another year on the salt at the 2014 Lake Gairdner speed trials and ended the week with a new record run of 183.374 mph ...295.112 kph
After a pounding on a rutted salt surface at over 170mph, pushed by the hammering pulses of a big single-cylinder engine, this chain has cried enough!
 It was not all plain sailing this year as dyno time was cut short by a last minute main bearing failure necessitating a new scratch built crankshaft. This lack of final tuning led to the first couple of runs being hampered by some massive nitro  backfires almost stopping the back wheel around 150 mph. Luckily the engine is built like a tank and somehow withstood this brutal punishment. After 3 days of work searching for the correct set up and a salt surface that was very soft and rutted like a sandy motocross track and an engine that was starting to show metal in the oil ,a rear chain that was threatening to self destruct from the sledgehammer blows of the big supercharged single firing once every wheel revolution, the organizers opened a new track which gave us our one and only chance for a record run.  The gearing was raised and the supercharger drive altered ,fuel changed back to straight methanol and with a last minute start line ignition timing alteration and fingers crossed we were off.
A mechanical tell-tale shows the maximum revs of the 732cc engine; 6600rpm.  A 'normal' Velo engine is redlined at 6200rpm, but racers occasionally took them up to 7200, which is very hard on their roller big ends.  
With very little warm up the almost 100mph first gear launched us down the track with a light hand on the throttle because on an earlier run, almost uncontrollable wheelspin had started a tank slapper and almost ended the weeks fun..... I short shifted into second and again into third at less than 150mph and did not use full throttle until well tucked in behind the screen and the bike started to dodge and weave across the ruts caused by some of the Hyabusas and big cars that had run before me. The revs started to creep up past 6500 as the engine temps approached melting point and the Velo started to waltz a little on the soft surface as the final mile marker flashed by and I reluctantly closed the throttle on another year on the glorious white expanse of the Australian salt flats.

The question now is......Just how fast can a Velo go ?"


Anonymous said...

thank you!

themoudie said...

Hooray! Compliments to Stuart and all who make the wheels turn. Rather Stuart than me, with a nasty bit of 'knicker elastic' connecting the drive to the wheel!
Thank you for the blog.
Good health, Bill.

Charlie101 said...

Amazing! Just amazing! Thanks for the report. Would like to hear a longer report of the feat!

The Velobanjogent said...

Paul, Stuart is 63 years old in a few months,not bad for an "old guy"...the bike started life as a 1960
Velocette Viper 350. His previous best speed was 171.600mph also at Lake Gairdner, set in February last year. An increase of mean feat and I note Stuart says they reverted back to straight methanol from the methanol nitro mixes sometimes uses.

Anonymous said...

732 is his entrant number. He is running in the 650cc class, so his displacement has to be >= 501cc, and < 650cc. Even more impressive, eh?

Carl said...

Nitromethane, not nitroglycerine

GuitarSlinger said...

Hate to be pedantic here but ... errr ... that'd be the fastest ' Fully Faired ' standard position Velo single ! Fully Faired being the key ! As far as being impressive ? In light of the fully faired designation . Not at all really . Not even a bonafide ' for the books ' record if memory serves correctly . This being one of those ... its all nice and good but does anyone except a serious Velo fan really care situations .

The Vintagent said...

Actually Guitar Slinger, I'd say you LOVE being pedantic!

And if you could make a Velocette, or any other British single, do over 180mph, it's an achievement worth celebrating. It is indeed an 'absolute' world record, certainly the World's Fastest British Single, and approaching the World's Fastest Single Cylinder Motorcycle, period.

There are hundreds of categories of records with every organizing body, and there are several (even at Bonneville) which recognize different categories and sub-categories.

It's a good system - there isn't one record to chase, there are very many, which encourages exactly the kind of home-builder who makes history, like Hooper and Munro. Not because they are the World's Fastest period, but because their efforts and determination make an excellent story of passion fulfilled.

Mens Leather Jackets said...

Wow, that is very cool. Seen a lot of different races at the salt beach on TV. Put up a movie of the trial run.


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome site which I found thru CYCLE WORLD. I followed the link for the 1928 mosaic " Speed ". Thank you for a wonderful site. The only thing I would like to see is larger font and or different contrast. I have forever struggled to read white print on a black background. Very frustrating to someone who is not old or blind. Thank you again. Ray