Five years ago, Bruce Wyke ran into his friend Scott Williams at the Pumpkinfest in Harrison, Ohio.
Wyke told Williams about a dream he had where the pair built a motorcycle, took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats and set a land speed record. The next day, Williams called Wyke and said “Do you want to try it?”
On Aug. 16 and 17, their dream came true. Williams rode a motorcycle that he and Wyke, a Columbus native, built to a world record run during Speedweek in the Modified Partial Streamlined Blown Fuel class.
The old record of 108 mph had stood for almost 20 years until it was raised to 123.115 mph in 2013. After clocking 124.774 mph on their first run on Aug. 13, they backed it up with a 129.662 on Aug. 14 for a world record average of 127.218
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But with a goal of 130 mph for this year’s Speedweek, Wyke and Williams weren’t satisfied. They went 131.554 on Aug. 16, then backed it up with a 135.428 on Aug. 17 for a record average of 133.491.
“We didn’t even think we would qualify on our very first pass, so we set it up conservative,” Wyke said. “The first time on the salt, we had no intention, no belief that we’d ever set a record. Going 135 mph on a 350cc motorcycle is huge.”
Wyke and Williams had checked in the bike the day before their first qualifying run, but it failed inspection. They went back to check the next morning and passed, then beat the record.
Every class is set by body, frame and size of engine. After each run, competitors have to tear down the bike to be measured for displacement.
Wyke said the bike’s newest major component was made in 1972.
“We went out with late-60s, early-70s technology and pushed it to 133 mph,” Wyke said. “There’s so little you can do to a production motorcycle and stay in a modified class. Just the engineering involved in making that kind of motorcycle is amazing.”
Born and raised in Columbus, Wyke, 57, has lived in the Cincinnati area for 26 years. He has lived in Harrison for the past seven years and sells insurance for Pharmacist Mutual Insurance Company.
Wyke, who used to race go-karts against Tony Stewart at Columbus Kart Club and the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, later became involved in building custom motorcycles. The record-setting machine that he engineered and built with Williams is an MPS 350cc blown fuel motorcycle.
Wyke said Williams has gone as fast as 145.5 mph on a runway in Ohio. Building speed is a little tougher, though, on the salt near Utah-Nevada line.
“Once you get above 125 mph, it’s not the salt, it’s pushing that air out of the way,” Wyke said. “It’s crazy. I can’t imagine for someone who’s never seen or heard of salt flat racing, they say ‘135, I’ve done that in my car.’ It’s totally different up there.”
Wyke said he and Williams plan to return to Bonneville Salt Flats in 2018 to attempt to break the record again.
Name: Bruce Wyke
High school: Columbus
Residence: Harrison, Ohio
Occupation: Field representative for Pharmacist Mutual Insurance Company
Family: Wife Kelly, son Cash, daughter Elaina