Last week, fellow hoon Number_Six mentioned the Yamaha FZR1000 in the comments, which prompted me to relate the time I achieved my highest Personal Motoring Velocity (PMVmax) at the controls of that very model motorcycle in 1987. It’d been years since I told that story, but this past Sunday morning at church I was surprised to be discussing that same topic again to with a couple of motorcyclist/hot-rodder friends. I can remember one particular Labor Day barbecue as a kid, sitting at the kitchen table with my father and several of my uncles. The conversation turned to how fast they’d each driven a car, and the circumstances behind these personal bests. They were all responsible, buttoned-down family men, and none of them were “car guys,” yet each one had indulged that irrepressible impulse to test their nerve and find out “what she’ll do.” I was floored that any of them had driven so fast, so deliberately. It seems everyone has given in to the siren song of a long straightway, and at least part of the point of taking any vehicle to VH is having a great story to tell. I’m not sure how many times I’ve told this story, but it’s enough that it still rolls off my tongue like a well-rehearsed monologue, even though I’m a stogy old man now and it doesn’t get told too often anymore:
During the 1987 AMA Superbike Nationals, I camped in the infield of Brainard International Raceway with a bunch of guys from a Yamaha dealership where I had worked previously. On Friday afternoon, the general manager tossed me the key to his brand new FZR1000 — the world’s fastest production motorcycle at the time. I was the straight-laced one of the bunch; he said, “Keep that. I’m gettin’ stoned and drunk tonight. Do whatever you want with it, but have it back to me in the morning.” I went out riding and a good distance outside of town I came around a bend to find a stretch of empty, smooth two-lane backtop perhaps two miles long — flat, arrow-straight and recently repaved, with nothing but Minnesota timber on either side. All that was missing was a shaft of light from heaven and a female chorus going “Ahhhhhhh…!” If there was ever a chance to find out “what she’ll do,” this was it. I nailed the throttle at about 70 MPH. I found the top-gear roll-on on that bike remarkable, to say the least. Sure, there are midsized bikes that are faster nowadays, but keep in mind that I had never achieved “the ton” up to that point, on two wheels or four. Even my vintage roadracing Bultaco was only geared for 98 MPH flat-out at redline in top gear. I tucked down behind the screen and was amazed at how still and calm it all seemed as I continued accelerating at triple-digit speeds. At 145 indicated — which was probably about 130 actual — the big Fizzer was still pulling fairly well, but I lost my nerve and shut ‘er down out of sheer self-preservation. I thought, “well, they finally built a bike that goes faster than I ever want to go.” I’ve never tried to attain that sort of velocity again.
So…what’s your story? “Once upon a time, long ago and far way…” — you fill in the rest. [Yes, we know you did 567 MPH in a 747-400…so did the other 500 passengers, and many of them slept though it. This is about wheeled, earth-bound vehicles.] Notice, we have not requested you tell us how fast you actually went. If you do and in the process admit to illegal activity, that’s on you, not us. Hooniverse does not condone or encourage breaking the law, driving like an idiot, or involuntary suicide. We are confident that all be from professional drivers on closed courses, or it was a really, really long time ago — or both. We’re all so much more mature than that now, right? And, if you should choose to describe how you just went 192 MPH on the Long Island Expressway, don’t blame us is the local constabulary comes and knocks on your door. Because, you know how easy it is to personally identify people on the Internet, and nobody, ever, ever fibs online.