Olympic Cyclist and IRONMAN triathlon winner, John Howard set a 152.2 Miles per Hour speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah on July 20, 1985. He is drafting in the wake of a 500 Horsepower Streamliner. This type of human powered record is called motor pacing. The pace vehicle was modified by adding a large tail fairing to the 337 MPH record holding Vesco Streamliner. The fairing keeps the wind off John and reduces the aerodynamic drag he is pedaling against to near nothing.
This type of record was invented by Charles “Mile-a-Minute Murphy” who drafted a train to set a 60 MPH record at the turn of the century. A mile of plywood sheets was attached to the railroad ties, so Charles would have a smooth surface. He had to be lifted onto the train just before they ran out of the plywood surface! The previous record holder at 138.8 MPH set in 1973 was physician, Dr. Allan Abbott, a cycling enthusiast and motorcycle racer. (Source 1. Doug Malewicki, system engineer with Jonn on the land speed record bicycle, credited for the double reduction gear system )
“I think we’ve built a better mousetrap,” Howard enthused. The living room and garage of his Encinitas home is a litter of frames and wheels and sketches. Mousetrap makings. “The rear wheel will be 28 inches, solid within a fairing, and the front wheel 26 inches. The head-stay will be dropped five inches and there will be a front fairing, just like those on a motorcycle, to scoop the air away from the rider.”
“There’s a lot of stuff on a bike that clogs up the wind–the rider, the brake assembly–so we’ve cleaned that up by reducing the frontal area. That should give us a speed increase between 5% and 10% . . . and without the rider expending any more energy.” – John Howard (Source 2. Los Angeles Times 1985)
This item is from the Bob Trimble Museum Collection and will sell in the 26th Annual Bicycle Auction, April 22, 2017.
Lot 3. Land speed record bicycle. Ridden by John Howard. Published in the Guiness Book of World Records 1989 edition page 555. 152.284 MPH on July 20th 1985. Specially designed 46 pound bicycle. KHS forks. Estimate: $3,000-5,000