Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

161mph land-speed record set on a Panhead Harley


September 12, 2007

Valerie Thompson took her Panhead Harley to a land speed record of 161mph earlier this wee...

Valerie Thompson took her Panhead Harley to a land speed record of 161mph earlier this week at Utah's Bonneville salt flats.

September 12, 2007 Female drag racer Valerie Thompson has her eye on a 200mph top speed on Bonneville’s salt flats. She took a major step toward this lofty goal earlier this week when she took her 120-inch Panhead Harley to a new land-speed record of 161.736mph. The former investment banker ran nitrous oxide and a small fairing to chase the record, and can’t wait until she runs a full streamliner in next year’s all-out assault on 200mph, an unprecedented speed for the class.

200mph isn’t a big deal these days – a Suzuki Hayabusa will get within a sniff of that speed straight out of the crate. But to extract that kind of pace from a pre-1965 Harley Davidson takes some serious engineering commitment.

Valerie Thompson says the bike was built by Keith R. Ball/5 Ball Racing Team and was built especially for the Bonneville Speedway’s 4th International Motorcycle Speed Trials in Utah.

“We specifically entered this class and had our "sponsored in part by GoDaddy" bike built, in order to get this record,” Valerie said. “We achieved what we set out to do, and it feels great!”

Her primary sponsor, GoDaddy.com CEO and Founder Bob Parsons was beaming with pride. “We knew Valerie would set the record. She lives to go fast and has the grit and the competitive determination to be the best in her profession. Her edginess and focus make her an ideal Go Daddy Girl,” said Parsons, who also has a passion for riding motorcycles.

The two-wheeled speedster is a former investment banker, but she’s not new to record-setting speed. Valerie previously held the American Motorcycle Association’s Land Speed Record at 145.647 mph. This new record was set in the same 2000 APS PF class on a 120-inch Panhead motorcycle. However, the Go Daddy bike had a special “partial streamline setup” specifically made for the Salt Flats, instead of an asphalt surface. It also had nitrous oxide as a back-up fuel, which she used during her latest record run.

Bad weather conditions earlier this week also made the Salt Flats soft and unstable for the speed trials, but Valerie shined, anyway. “I had only ridden this bike eight times leading up to this,” Valerie commented. “I was relieved and excited! I felt relief to be able to finish safely and excitement the year’s worth of preparation paid off with the record thanks to all the sponsors.”

Valerie was featured in Go Daddy’s most recent Super Bowl commercial, alongside fellow Go Daddy Girls Candice Michelle and Danica Patrick. All three Go Daddy Girls are enjoying success these days. Candice, who starred in the legendary 2005 Go Daddy Super Bowl ad, is now the reigning WWE women’s wrestling champ. Danica posted her best finish yet in the Indy Racing League’s last race, taking second place at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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