Monday, December 16, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, December 16, 2002



  Motorcycle racing legend, dealer and land-speed record-holder, Don Vesco dies.

  From Scrambles and TT races to being a factory rider for Honda, Yamaha and BSA, Don Vesco had the need-for-speed.  A serious need.

  In September of 1970, he set the motorcycle land speed record with a 251.66 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in a streamliner powered by twin Yamaha motors.  Less than a month later, the Harley-Davidson factory broke the record with Don's longtime friend Cal Rayborn in the saddle.  So, you want to play that way... 1975, Don piloted the Silver Bird Yamaha, (powered by two Yamaha TZ750's), and broke the 300 mph barrier.  Still feeling the need for a "bit more",  he broke his own record, turning in a speed of 318.598 on a twin-engine Kawasaki.  That record would stand for 12 years.
  You would think he's got to be happy with  300+ mph run.  You'd be wrong.
  Fast-forward to 1999, at the age of 60, he set the land speed record for a wheel-driven car with his "Turbinator" streamliner powered by a Lycoming turbine helicopter motor, which hit 427.832 mph.  Ok, enough?  Not quite.  At Bonneville, in October of 2001, Don Vesco and his "Turbinator" set an FIA World Land Speed Record of 458.440 mph!

  Don Vesco was inducted into AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.