7 Reasons Why…

A 5 second turbo bike might be further away than you think.

Five years ago, in 2015, Cycledrag.com posted this article about the possibility of a 5 second turbo bike. Some commentators are now suggesting that this achievement is imminent, and could even happen “this year”. Here are 7 reasons why I personally think it will take longer. These are not intended to belittle anyone’s efforts in this arena, my aim is merely to identify the challenges involved and to stimulate discussion.

1. The timeline. Gary Clarke ran 6.45 in 2000, a record which stood for nearly 10 years. Rikard Gustaffson ran 6.36 in 2013, followed by others into the low 6.3s in the last few years. Now we are at 6.20 but by this measure alone, two more tenths to make a five second pass is some years away, not months. When Top Fuel bikes made this same journey, from 6.20 to 5.99, how long did it take, 10 years?

2. Technical advances. The 6.3Xs funnybikes of a few years ago used standard blocks, mechanical injection and simple boost controllers. Cutting edge ECUs, sophisticated boost controllers and billet engine components have taken, at best, 1.5 tenths off these times. What kind of technical advance will it take to run another two full tenths quicker?

3. The eighth mile time fallacy. An argument has been put forward that bikes running 3.9 second eighth miles just need to continue the full distance to run a 5. I believe this argument originates in the fact that a 5 second quarter mile can indeed have a 3.9 second eighth, just as Larry McBride did when he ran a 5.99 quarter and 3.94 second eighth on the first 5 second pass in history. However, this argument doesn’t work in both directions. Let’s look at why.

Bikes geared for the eighth mile have more rear wheel thrust due to mechanical advantage of the low gearing. When you gear them up for the quarter, that advantage is lost and the 3.9 second bike becomes a 4.0 eighth mile bike again – not fast enough for a 5. 

To convert a 3.9 second eighth into a 5.9 second quarter requires a 2.0 second back half. Simple maths tells us that a 2.0 second back half requires an AVERAGE speed over the second eighth of 225mph – faster than any funnybike has ever gone at the finish, let alone as an average over 220 yards.

4. Power deficiency. This brings us to an obvious truth. The lower the entry speed into the second eighth, the more speed you have to make up in the second half. On McBride’s 5.99, he was at 179mph at the eighth – relatively slow for a fuel bike, and maybe a dubious figure given that the bike usually ran in the 190s, but an achievable speed for a turbo bike. However, he was then able to gain 64mph by using 1207hp (his calculation) to cross the line at 243mph for an average speed of 219.5mph in the second half. The first eighth was 3.94s, second half 2.05s. Turbo bikes do not currently have the luxury of that much power. As drag increases with the cube of the speed it takes 30% more power to go from 220mph to 240mph.

5. Weight. “But turbo bikes can be lighter!”, comes the cry. Well, that’s true, but is it an advantage? Power to weight ratios are chased almost religiously throughout motorsport, but in drag racing weight=traction. In the absence of any meaningful efforts to create downforce aerodynamically, the heaviest bikes are also the fastest bikes because they can transmit more power through the tyre. Building a turbo bike light may not be an advantage at all in terms of traction available.
Also, the faster the speed the less light weight is an advantage. Why? Because the weight of the bike/rider remains constant during the run (apart from using fuel), but aerodynamic drag rises exponentially. At the start, 100% of the energy used is in moving the weight of the bike. This favours a light bike. At the finish, the majority of the energy is being used to overcome drag. You might not need 1200hp like Larry, but a funnybike is not far off in terms of drag. Power is much more important than weight in the second half.

6. Engine strength. It seems then, that any proposed 5 second turbo bike will need to make at least 1000hp, and probably more like 1200hp, to reach the speeds necessary. A 1.5 litre turbo engine can certainly make that much, we saw it in F1 in the eighties, but with most of the efforts revolving around unit construction engines with streetbike origins there are numerous questions around the strength of the driveline at these power levels. The way forward is far from clear.

7. Finally, if you ever need a sobering reminder of how hard it will be to make a turbo bike run a 5, look around the fuel bike pits at all the bikes that have never made that number. Those guys running 6.1s and 6.2s with sometimes decades of development and experience, and often way more power than any turbo bike too, yet still the 5 eludes them. Do you still think the turbo 5 is imminent?

Lorcan.

A celebration of the life of Barry Eastman

A celebration of Barry’s life will take place at:

South West Middlesex Crematorium, Hounslow Rd., Hounslow, TW13 5JH

on 28th February at 10am.

All who knew Barry are welcome. Refreshments will be available afterwards at a separate venue to be arranged.

Please send any messages or memories you would like to be included to stormdragbike@gmail.com by 21st Feb for forwarding on to Debs.

Dress code: Barry was not one for formality so wear what you like. Funeral attire NOT necessary 🙂

Flowers from close family only please. If anyone would like to make a charity donation in lieu of flowers please use this website to donate online:

https://www.love2donate.co.uk//inmemory/identify_name.php?bc=301

Donations will go to the British Heart Foundation and Lymphoma Research Trust, in memory of Barry.

Alternatively donations by cheque can be sent to: In memory of Barry Eastman, Lodge Brothers, 7 Green Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8DP, and there will be a collection box on the day should anyone prefer to donate then.

Barry Eastman

The Storm team are broken-hearted to announce the loss of team co-owner, Barry Eastman, who passed away in hospital Tuesday afternoon, aged 68. Barry’s friendship with Mick Hand extends back over 50 years to when they completed their apprenticeships at the same company and started going sprinting. After racing their own bikes, Mick helped Barry with his Honda CBX funnybike, “Tokyo Express”, through the 80s and 90s before building Storm together.

Now though our thoughts are with Barry’s family, especially wife Deb and daughter Sarah. Barry met Deb through drag racing and we are sure that the drag racing community will want to join us in sending our love and sincere condolences.

Straightliners 2018

As we did in 2017, we attended this late in the year meeting to get some much-needed track time before the winter lay-off. Unfortunately though, we suffered an incident which did some damage to Storm and me (Lorcan). Both are repairable but will take a little time.

While tuning the turbo speeds a burst panel in the inlet manifold let go at around the eighth mile mark (165mph), sending flame under the seat and into the area that houses most of the wiring, the batteries, sensors and boost controller.

I don’t think I saw the fire immediately but as soon as I saw it on my right side I hit the brakes and scrubbed off as much speed as possible before the fire got too intense and I bailed out on the left side, hitting the ground at a speed we will find out later from the datalog.

My left shoulder blade is broken and there is a small burn on my right leg. My leathers were cut off by the ambulance crew and crash helmet will also be binned.

Storm continued upright after the bailout, clipping the wall on the right side. It has fire damage to the wiring loom and sensors, batteries and boost controller.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the Santa Pod medical team for looking after me so well and getting me to Bedford hospital so efficiently, to the Straightliners crew, the Storm team and especially Sarah for looking after me, running around with cars etc. to enable us to get home last night. You are all awesome! Thanks also to my boss, Chris, for his patience and understanding when it comes to his least risk-averse employee!

Here are some pics from Sarah and Kermit, and a little video. Time for a regroup and repair over the winter and we’ll be back stronger and faster next year.

Lorcan

National Finals 2018

Having secured the national championship at the Redline Rumble double-header event in August we went to the finals with hopes of improving our PBs and going some rounds, but it was not to be.

Rain all day on the Saturday meant a one-shot qualifier on the Sunday morning, but our ice tank leaked on the line, putting us out.

Congrats to Kars Van Den Belt on the Funnybike class win and for running an oh-so-close 7.005 in the semi-final! That little Blackbird will be in the 6s next time! Congrats too to Steve Woollatt on a PB 6.14.

Highlight of the event for us was seeing Storm on the cups in the Santa Pod bar!

Euro Finals 2018

The biggest meeting of the year, and the Friday qualifying sessions didn’t go well for us, or for some others in the class. On our first qualifier the bike didn’t burnout (rider error) and then hit the turbo speed limiter on the launch. After a 7 hour wait our next qualifier was at nearly 9pm, with immediate tyre shake.

We reverted back to our 6.56 settings for boost and clutch but the weather forecast for Saturday was not good.

At close of play Friday we were qualified 6th with Steve Woollatt in #1, Fast Fil struggling and Rene had grenaded his motor. Eric Richard was also struggling a bit, so it was all to play for if we could get a decent run in Saturday.

Saturday brought just one daytime qualifier due to rain, 6.94 @ 201 which put is in third place. The bike double-shifted from first to third gear, and cracked the exhaust headers on the run. We could weld those up in the morning and see where the pairings take us. Fast Fil went into the field at the end of the track on his run – he was ok but there was some damage to the bike. Meanwhile, Rene had rebuilt his engine and was back in the game! We elected not to run the second night time qualifier as it was run very late.

The team tried to patch up the exhaust on Saturday morning but it was impossible to weld without taking it apart and the patch didn’t hold, allowing our nemesis Dale Leeks to take the win in round 1 with a 0.05 margin 7.15 against our 7.25.

Steve Woollatt went on to win the event.

Redline Rumble 2018

Redline Rumble is a new bike-only event for 2018 at Santa Pod, possibly to capitalise on the demise of the Bulldog Bash but also to provide an event for those not wanting to go to the Hockenheim Nitrolympx which takes place the same weekend.

The format is effectively two one-day events with qualifying and eliminations both days and ACU championship points also awarded on each day. With many of our Funnybike friends at Hockenheim it was an ideal opportunity for us to get some track time and possibly extend our lead in the championship.

Q1 on Saturday we had some issues this morning firstly with the rider getting it wrong, then a crank/cam sync sensor error made the engine cut out at the end of first gear. 1.113 to 60′ was encouraging though. Q2 was a 7.41 @ 151mph shutoff. The front tyre was contacting the fairing landing from the first gear wheelie, pulling the front wheel to one side and causing the front end washout. Barry trimmed the bodywork to resolve it. In the meantime, we were qualified #1 for eliminations in the afternoon.

With only three riders qualified we had a bye run in the semi-finals and posted a PB 6.56 @ 208mph clicking off a little early into the 15-17mph headwind.

In the final Dave Peters was a no-show so we had another bye which got a bit out of shape and was shut off early, but this gave us our first ever event win.

Overnight we found that the steering pivot mount had cracked, so Mick brought his gas welding gear in Sunday morning to repair it. We missed the first qualifying session due to this.

Another out of shape Q2 meant we actually had to beat someone in the other lane to reach the final. Dave Buttery was having battery problems, but a 0.05 RT and a 6.75 ET made sure of the win.

In the final Dave Peters was also having problems, easing our path to a second win in two days.


Photo Gallery © Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes:

Summernationals 2018

Q1, a broken wire stops us from running. Q2, the small turbo is hitting the speed limiter and the bike moves towards the centre line, but a 7.01 makes us #1 qualifier. Q3, we run 6.67 @ 218.24mph but hit the turbo speed limiter again (which cuts the ignition) 3 times in 1st gear. Overnight we diagnose the turbo speed issue as a split diaphragm in the wastegate, so replace it. E1 we lose traction at the end of first gear and the bike gets sideways, then tries to tuck the front under. Getting back on it just before the finish nets a 6.70 @ 206mph. Before E2 though, we find cylinder #4 is down on compression and so elect to retire. After the event we discover that the cam chain has jumped a tooth. No damage, and an easy fix.

We were very happy though to increase our funnybike record speed, and break the ET record which had been held at 6.70 seconds for 10 years by Neil Midgley. Congrats to Funnybike class winner Dale and all the other class winners, thanks to our sponsors Owen Developments, UWTSD, PR Fleet, Mr Sticker, and to the whole team and our fellow competitors for a hard, hot, but enjoyable weekend.


Photo gallery copyright Blackett Photography:

Storm at Mallory Park

We were invited by the VMCC Sprint Section to show Storm at the Festival of 1000 Bikes at Mallory Park 7th and 8th July. In between “parade” laps of historic racing machinery on the Sunday we were to take part in a demonstration of sprinting on the straightest part of the track.

To enable the sprint bikes to return to the paddock without completing a whole lap of the circuit though, this meant racing the “wrong” way to the usual direction.

We tried a launch in 1st gear, which immediately went up in smoke, followed by a launch in 2nd gear, which did exactly the same.

We’re not entirely sure what the crowd made of the bike in amongst some very vintage rides, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sunshine and for us it made a nice change of scenery, even if we couldn’t demonstrate what Storm really is capable of.

Thanks to Mallory Park, the VMCC Sprint section, Dave Woodard and all involved for inviting us.