Breaking the Barrier

Twenty-one years ago the new kid at Sport Rider magazine took his first shot at 200 mph

Jason Black on-track action
Years ago we'd wrangle rides on the championship-winning roadracers, and Jason Black got his leg over the Muzzy bike for a few exhilarating laps. TC? What?Kevin Wing

Nick's Note: Last week Lance Holst and I described our first foray over 200 mph, and Jason Black follows up this week with his experience breaking the double-ton. As this is being published, I'm flying back from New Jersey Motorsports Park AHRMA round and some exhilarating racing on the Spondon TZ750. Tune in for pics, words, and video from that ride next Tuesday.

"If you’re going to break 200 miles per hour,” Nick explained to me, “you’ll need to be pinned in sixth and going at least 180 mph when you exit the final corner.”

I wasn't sure I had heard Nick correctly. "Did you say I need to be going 180 at the exit of the corner?"

“Yeah,” he confirmed. “But don’t worry…it’s a big corner.”

Jason Black on a Honda Blackbird superbike
Jason Black got plenty of time on fast stuff at Sport Rider magazine, seen here getting the most out of Honda's Blackbird. Modified Blackbirds are part of UFO and Superbikes From Hell history.Sportrider.com

The year was 1995, and as Sport Rider magazine's 22-year-old Associate Editor, my job involved riding some of the most exotic and powerful motorcycles in the world. But as I prepared for my run on the turbo-charged Luftmeister Triumph Daytona 1200—and my chance at breaking 200 mph for the first time—Nick's instructions had me nervous.

Nick wrote about the cowboy antics we pulled on Avenue A in last week's Ienatsch Tuesday. Thankfully for this test, we were not on Avenue A. Sport Rider's 1995 UFO competition took place at the now-defunct Honda Proving Center of California. Unlike Avenue A, HPCC's 7.5-mile closed-course oval offered a relatively safe place to push production based motorcycles—and their riders—far beyond what many of us thought possible.

It was with some trepidation that I rolled out on the big Triumph. Nick had just gone 191 on the same machine, but after some additional tuning by RB Racing’s Matt Capri, all of us were confident that the blown Daytona could break the 200 barrier.

The corners at HPCC were definitely big; three lanes wide and 2.5 miles long. On the inside of the track were huge, numbered pylons that we used as reference points. A rider had to be careful about which of the lanes to use, because Honda had engineered roller and chatter bumps into the concrete to help test car suspension. I chose the smoother inside lane and slowly started working my way through the Triumph’s gearbox.

Jason Black and his adventure bike
Adventure riding has grabbed Black and many of his miles are now in the dirt, including lots of mountain-biking miles with his wife Amy and daughter Ellie.Jason Black

I reached 150 mph about halfway through the corner, and could hear the turbo spooling with every crack of the throttle. One-sixty. One-seventy. With about an eighth-mile before the final corner marker, I slowly turned the throttle to the stop. The big machine was leaned over substantially, and the tires squirmed as they searched for traction.

When the final corner marker came into view, I moved my butt squarely onto the seat and did my best to crawl under the paint as the speed cleared 175 mph. Just as the corner unwound and opened onto the long straight, 180 mph.

I was unprepared for how fast the final 16-second charge to the timing lights would feel. My helmet bounced and my vision blurred as the world started to narrow in front of me. It was raucous, lively, and completely exhilarating.

It was 202.703 mph. Whew.

More Next Tuesday!