|1988-1989 Beginning||1989-1990 Mock Ups & Test Beds||1990-1992 First Streamliner|
|1992-1994 Second Streamliner||1994-1996 Third Streamliner||1996-1997 Fourth Streamliner|
|1997-1998 Fifth Streamliner||1999-2000 Fifth Streamliner||2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner|
|2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner||2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner||2002-2003 Fifth Streamliner|
|2003-2004 Sixth Streamliner||2004-2005 Sixth Streamliner||2005-2006 Seventh Streamliner|
|2006-2007 Eighth Streamliner||2007-2008 Eighth Streamliner||2007-2008 Visit to Thunderdome|
2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner
It wasn't long until, in the course of our meetings, it became apparent to me that something was terribly wrong--that somehow Dan and I had gotten our wires crossed. It was clear that we weren't operating on the same page. In other words, evidently the communication we had had on the telephone, when he first asked me if I would like help in putting the liner back on the salt, had been incomplete, misunderstood, misconstrued, or unfinished. Something was missing. I had entered in to the agreement believing that they were going to help me put my streamliner back on the salt with the offer of funds and a work force, so that I would be able to carry out the decisions and designs I had planned for the upcoming attempt.
This was not happening. Dan was clearly in charge of the group he had brought from Canada, with all of them going through him for any directions as to what went on with the streamliner, in fact I sensed a definite "coolness" toward me whenever I tried to be the "man in charge"of Black Lightning.
I was a bit befuddled by all of this, as it was not what I had agreed to when Dan and I had talked on the phone. My understanding was that the Canadians were volunteering their money and labor in order to help me put Black Lightning back on the salt for the purpose of promoting the Vincent marque. I never had any intentions of handing the project over to anyone, and would not have agreed to do so at the time we spoke on the telephone if I had known what the plan was, as I have never needed, nor have I asked for technical assistance, other than when I asked Don Vesco and Bob George at the beginning of the project, back in 1989.
At this time I would remind the reader, "who contacted who". Dan Smith had contacted me, offering help for the project, I had not contacted him asking for help.
On my third trip to California to meet with the Canadians for the streamliner work, Dan Smith handed me a one year lease, with he and Robert Watson, the new Editor of MPH, as the "Crew Chief" and the "Administrator" of the project respectively, after which time "control" would be returned to me. The lease said that they were creating "The Vibrac Team"for the purpose of setting the Land Speed Record for Motorcycles.
I read the names of the team members. My name wasn't on the list, nor were any of my crew members from any of my previous Bonneville attempts on the list. All team members listed were Canadian, except for Keith Sides, the designated tuner, who was from the U.S.
At this time I took the lease and retreated into the bathroom for some privacy, while I thought about what had just transpired. We were already three months into the project, so the work was well underway. If I signed the lease I would be relinquishing my dream of years over to others. If I didn't sign the lease I would be forever known as the "jerk" who held up the Vincent streamliner's attempt on the record for his own personal reasons, as the word was already out in the VOC community, that the liner was going back to the salt.
In the end it was my dedication to the many contributors to the Black Lightning Project who made the decision for me. I was unable to proceed financially on my own, and I felt they deserved to have another go at the record, with or without my participation.
With this thought in mind I signed the lease, although with some reservation as to the salt racing creditionals of the new team. Control of my streamliner, Black Lightning, for the first time was now in the hands of others.
After signing the lease, they took the liner to Don Vesco's for dyno testing. During the dyno testing the crankshaft broke on the rear engine. The 2001 attempt had to be aborted due to the time frame needed to fix the ailment.
At that time I authorized the new Vibrac team to take the streamliner to Vancouver, Canada during 2001-2002, for the same reasons I mentioned previously.
Dan Smith, Crew Chief for what was now known as the "Vibrac streamliner", made various changes to the systems as permitted by the lease, and as he saw fit. I maintained a support role to the Vibrac team here in Wichita, Kansas, USA, because in spite of everything that had transpired, I still wanted to see the attempt with the Vincent marque succeed.
I was not involved in any design or engineering changes for the 2002 attempt due to lease restraints; however, if and when asked, I did help them in any way I could.
For instance, I asked my friend, Don Vesco, if he would take the ride for the Vibrac team, as they didn't know him. He had had an unfortunate accident at a round-d-round track where a car spit a rock out of the rear tire hitting him in the eye, causing the vision loss of that eye. It became apparent to me, that in order for the Vibrac team to have any success, a back up rider would be required. Without asking, I took it upon myself to make a quick trip (500 miles) to Albuquerque, New Mexico to see if I could talk another friend, Dave Campos, into being the back up rider for their attempt. Dave agreed, and the stage was set. Don Vesco would be the primary pilot, and Dave Campos would be the back up pilot.
We all met on the salt for Speed Week 2002. As a "support member" (not a crew member) to the Vibrac effort, I also took it upon myself to provide all the necessary where-with-all for any serious attempt on the Salt. So I brought two pickup truckloads full of tents, generators, welders, etc, and a huge banner to promote the Vincent logo.
Don Vesco took the first ride with the liner that year, but he couldn't get it up on it's wheels, as Dan had changed the skids to a fixed position, taking out the adjustment for skid height. There was also another problem. Dan had put spacers underneath the seat back plate, which caused Don to have difficulty with the handlebar location. I didn't understand what was going on at the time, as I had personally fitted Don to the cockpit prior to the liner being taken to Vancouver. The first day of the meet ended being taken up with moving the handlebars forward. The fix would have been unnecessary if I'd have known about the spacers, which I discovered upon disassembly, after I brought the liner back home to Wichita.
As Don Vesco had to leave early, he turned the riding chores over to the back-up rider, Dave Campos. If I recall, Dave took something like 6 passes that year, the best being 191.970 mph. Keith Sides, the Vibrac tuner, and Dan Smith, the Crew Chief for the Vibrac streamliner in 2002, never did get a handle on how to tune the streamliner to make power. I had been aware of the difficulty through the week, so I wasn't surprised when they asked me if I would tune the liner, which I did. That's when she made the 191.970 mph pass.
I was tuning for the next run, when I discovered that the front engine wasn't running properly. The bolt that held the timing rotor on the front engine, had been inadvertently left loose during Dan Smith's rebuild in Canada. After this was fixed and corrected, the engines were fired in the pit and ran for only a few seconds on all four cylinders for the first time of the meet. The drive side of the crankshaft on the rear engine then broke, which ended the Vibrac effort.
The lease had expired and I declined to renew it when asked.