Nothing like building a land speed record winning motorcycle with your own two hands
Dan Schmalle never planned on breaking any land speed records. The mild-mannered pastry chef and retro radio enthusiast had always been interested in land speed racing, ever since making a model of Mickey Thompson's Challenger 1 as a kid. In 2016 he finally made it to Bonneville and that's where the Salt Fever took him. When he returned from that trip he knew he needed to get out there on the salt, and he had just the vehicle waiting at home.
A few years previously, Schmalle bought a basket case 1962 Honda Superhawk on Craigslist for $300 with plans to rebuild and flip it. (I've heard that before...-Ed.) There was maybe 70 percent of a bike in back in his garage with various parts from other bikes and a tank that didn't match. It didn't matter. He immediately set to rebuilding the little Superhawk as a land speed racer.
It paid off this year at the 2018 Bonneville Speed Week. Schmalle took the Superhawk—a nearly 60-year-old bike with a 305cc mill that was built from parts bought on Craigslist, mind you—and smashed the record for the 350cc, modified, classic, gas class. The standing record was 62 miles per hour. Schmalle came in after two runs with an average speed just shy of 88 miles per hour. Not hair-raising, but see above under "sixty-year-old Craigslist bike". Just think if he'd had a flux capacitor.
Of all the things that could have gone wrong, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong in land speed racing, Schmalle was most concerned about his engine temperature.
“It’s a little unnerving,” he told K5 News. “The motor’s getting hotter and hotter, and you hope it holds together."
Schmalle's wife Eileen was there with him, presumably as pit crew and moral support.
"It was like having a baby,” she said. “I was just so nervous.”
Schmalle's record may only stand for one year, or it may stand the test of time, but it doesn't matter one way or another to him. He got his record, and he'll be back.