The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 18, 2012

Eyes on 170 mph, not speedometer

SUNBURY — You won’t catch Jim Hoegh sneaking peeks at his speedometer as he tears across the Utah salt flats a week from today in trying to become the fastest motorcycle racer around.

That’s because the speedometer won’t be connected to his Confederate Hellcat, even after the new bike is completed in time for the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials in Bonneville, just west of Salt Lake City.

“The speedometer doesn’t mean anything,” said Hoegh, 55, a city physical therapist. “You have wheel slippage, so the speedometer is not accurate. The speedometer assesses wheel spin, not forward travel.”

And you won’t catch the third-year racer at all, not if he beats his personal best of 162.6 mph or tops the nonfaired class record of 169 mph, set in 2011 by Californian Wink Eller.

Awaiting Hoegh is wind, blinding glare, extreme heat, a slick surface and only minimal visual cues — each an obstacle along the barren, five-mile-straight racing lane that could prove fatal, as was the case for a Bonneville biker three years ago.

“I’ve never wiped out,” said Hoegh, who weighs 155 pounds and his bike, 500. “But if I did, it’s one of two things. Historically, you do not survive, or you walk away. It depends on if you slide or tumble. If you tumble, that is not good news. If you slide, and some do, miraculously they stand up and walk away.”

For more details, see Sunday’s edition of The Daily Item.

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