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First I'd like to say that it's one thing to build a streamliner; however, due to it's complexity, it's quite another to take it to the salt and make high speed runs. It is impossible for one guy, or two or three for that matter, to prep the liner for runs and take care of all of the logistics required.
It takes several knowledgeable, dedicated individuals to make successful runs. These individuals gather on the salt, for the most part at their own expense, knowing that their reward will be nothing more than the personal gratification that they have participated in a World Class event with the goal of setting the LSR with a Vincent.
A short narrative of the pit crew is in order.
L to R:
Bob Bonato, from Deer Lodge, Montana, pit crew rookie for 2006. Some of you may remember Bob as the organizer of the 2004 North American Rally for the VOC. Bob has been a financial contributor in the past, and has supported the Black Lightning effort for several years. As pit crew member, Bob took on all jobs assigned with a spirit of can-do.
Jesse O'datey, from Torrance, California, pit crew rookie for 2006. A friend of Stephen Doherty, Jesse made the trek to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the first time in 2006. A machinist by trade, his expertise was very impressive, and his youth, energy, and enthusiasm were great assets.
Nigel Blackbourn (Razor), from New Zealand (living now in Spain), pit crew rookie for 2006. Razor is now working with a group on a World Cup racing yacht. A long time friend of streamliner pilot Hartmut Weidelich, and a builder of Vincent racers, who BTW caught the salt bug, and as I understand it, will be bringing a 1000cc Vincent to the salt in 2008, going for Steve Hamel's record. His talent and knowledge was also a credit to himself, and again, an asset to the Black Lightning Project.
John MacDougall, from Vancouver, B.C. Canada, an old timer in the Vincent streamliner pit crew. John was also instrumental in the modification of the Terry Prince crankshafts, the finish work on the Terry Prince muffs, and he built the fuel pump drive on the streamliner. John is a very talented machinist, and has built several street Vincents for various members of the VOC and others. John has put his mechanical talents to work on several occasions in the past few years as a pit crew member of the Black Lightning streamliner. Caroline, (his better half) takes care of feeding the crew and spectators, and is quite an important part of "making it all happen"
Don Angel from San Diego, California, a friend for over 30 years, and a pit crew member every year since 1996, the first time the Vincent streamliner went to the salt. The late Don Vesco, legendary World Record Holder at Bonneville, was the rider that year. Don Angel has worked himself up through the ranks, so to speak, and is the current Pilot, having taken the liner up to the speed of 212.860 mph. Don also performs a lot of wrenching on the salt, and is a professional motorcycle mechanic, working for his brother, Sonny Angel at his shop in National City, California.
Max Lambky, from Wichita, Kansas, designer, builder and Crew Chief of the Vincent streamliner.
Hartmut Weidelich, from Aldingen, Germany, pit crew member 2004, 2005, 2006. I first met Hartmut (so to speak) through an internet VOC list server, and was impressed with his mechanical knowledge and his knowledge of the Vincent. I needed a back up pilot for the liner, and asked if he would like the job. He said yes, and has become a principle pit crew member, back up pilot, and friend. Hartmut, on a couple of occasions, managed to keep the liner on it's wheels against all odds--when the wheel exploded in 2005, and again when the engines stopped (as they ran out of fuel) in 2006, resulting in a hole in the tire. Hartmut builds his own Vincent engine complete, makes the casting and does all his own machine work. He also enjoys road racing, side car racing, drag racing and motocross.
Stephen Doherty, from Los Angeles, California, has been a member of the Black Lightning pit crew since 2004. Sometime around 2003, Stephen offered to help the Black Lightning project in any way he could--and that he has done in spades! Steve has been a major financial supporter, and has been a principle pit crew member, taking care of all the logistics of moving the liner around on the salt, which is a major job. I would also like to show my appreciation to Steve for being the creator and the webmaster of www.vincentstreamliner.com.
Tom Murray, from Mapleridge B.C., Canada, a pit crew member for several years. Worthy of note, he has ridden a Triumph around the world (see Burt Munro window). Tom is no stranger to motorcycling, and is continually taking care of all of Black Lightning's needs on the salt--a valuable pit crew member.
Ray Haskin, from Tillamook, Oregon, a pit crew member since 2004. Ray, a VOC member, and the owner of a beautiful Shadow, which he brings to the salt, is also a staunch supporter of the Black Lightning Project. Ray volunteers his van to haul the starter, batteries, and generator where needed, i.e. from one end of the 11 mile course to the other end of the 11 mile course. Ray is our starter man, and is in charge of firing the beast prior to runs.
Lenny McKnight, from Southeast Federal Way, Washington, joined the pit crew in 2004. Lenny is an excellent mechanic and machinist, and is also the single biggest individual contributor to the Black Lightning Project, (other than my mom :o). In 2004, Lenny paid for the rooms for all who attended the LSR attempt. Cost: $3,500. Since then he has contributed large checks each year, and has flown in to Wichita from Washington state on two occasions to lend a hand with the new 2006 streamliner. Truly a dedicated supporter and a highly valued pit crew member on the salt.
Barrie Howell, from Winfield, B.C., Canada, has been a pit crew member since 2004. He has also been a valued financial supporter and enthusiast of the Black Lightning Project. Barrie has been a VOC member since the creation. To his credit, he has ridden a Vincent around the world. Several times I've asked him to transport people from the Salt Lake City airport to Wendover, a 110 mile trip. Everything that I have asked of Barrie--it's done. I gave him his handle (Easy) for this reason. Always a smiling face, and an exceptional asset to the Black Lightning Project. Barrie was not feeling too well when the picture was taken and is not shown in the picture of the pit crew.
John Philipp, from London, England, has been a pit crew member for several years. John is the Overseas Membership Secretary for the Vincent Owners Club. John is constantly taking care of loose ends and cleaning salt off the liner cheerfully. It's a tribute to his character, as he previously received injuries from a motorcycle accident and insisted on continuing his work anyway. He also is not shown in the picture of the pit crew as he stayed back at the pit to recoup between rounds. A good man to have around in any pit.
One more note on crew members. John Caraway, from Salem, Oregon, another major contributor, who has been hanging around watching the Black Lightning pit crew for several years, is about to be put to work. In 2007 John will be the Pit Captain, and will be responsible for making sure that I don't forget to put the fuel in the liner. I haven't designated a person as of yet to keep him awake. (see photos) :o)
Neil Diggens, from Hertfordshire, England will also be joining the pit crew for 2007. Neil's dad ran a twin engine Triumph drag bike, and Neil himself has run several multicylinder drag bikes. Not a stranger to speed, and an excellent mechanic as I understand it.
We only meet for four days a year, but we all bring together our hopes, dreams, and various talents for one purpose--to set the World's Land Speed Record with a Vincent.