Last month’s Carole Nash Irish Motorbike and Scooter Show saw a visit from Valerie Thompson, the world’s fastest motorcycle racer.
The former bank worker’s racing accomplishments earned her the moniker of “America’s Queen of Speed”. Having topped 300mph in 2016, the eight-time land speed record holder survived a horrific high speed crash last year but now has her sights set on breaking the outright land speed record.
We caught up with Valerie to see what it takes to become a record breaker and to learn more about the massive team work required to succeed in this extremely demanding sport.
Tell us about yourself?
I am the “World’s Fastest Motorcycle Racer” in a streamliner, an eight-time land speed record holder with membership in seven different 200mph clubs, one 300mph club and is the first female appointed to the Bonneville 200mph club Bboard of directors. I was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame in 2018 and the quest that earned the world’s fastest motorcycle title was subject of an upcoming feature documentary, called “Rockets and Titans.”
Piloting the Team 7 Racing motorcycle streamliner, I added another new chapter to racing history in 2016 by becoming first female rider over 300 mph to capture the “World’s Fastest Female Motorcycle Racer” title. In 2018, I set a new record of 328 mph at the DRLA Speed Week competition, just days before surviving a horrific crash at 363 mph at the Australia World Speed Trials.
How did you get into motorcycles and going so fast?
In 1999, I was asked to go for a ride on the back of a motorcycle. Well, I ended up not going on the ride, but I went to the local Harley-Davidson dealership and purchased my first Harley-Davidson bike. Fast forward to five years later and I moved to Arizona and, in a few years, I started my race career. In 2006 I started racing for our local Harley-Davidson dealership and in my second year I placed third in the points out of 40 racers in the AHDRA drag racing series. In between time, the need for speed still continued which leads me to wide open throttle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. I got the salt fever and started dreaming of being the faster female on two wheels. At the time my goal was to go 200mph in the year 2007! Now my dream is to become the fastest person period, since my mission came true at 328.467 mph! I have a great opportunity to rewrite motorsports history by being the first woman to break the overall land speed record of 376.36 mph (605.69 km/h) in the next year!
Who/what inspired you to race?
Growing up I was never inspired to be an athlete. However, I did want to be an ice skater. Right after high school I worked in the bank, like my aunt Linda. Thirteen years later I was laid off and thought my entire world was going to crash. I loved my banking job, but I knew there was something more I wanted/needed in my next career move! I was born with the speed DNA and applied that when I was in my late 30s. When my mom was expecting with me, she raced her car up and down a popular street called “South Tacoma Way” in Washington State. Well I too use to race up/down in Arizona called … Scottsdale Road. I must have been taking notes while I was in my mom’s belly! Working in the banking industry was my favourite but my passion for racing is the ultimate at its peak!
Have you tried other forms of motorsport?
Drag racing (quarter mile) was the start of my racing career. I then started racing a sport bike, a BMW S 1000 RR and also attended the Keith Code California Superbike School course to learn the amazing machine!
What draws you towards drag racing and speed records?
What brings me to speed records is the passion, challenges and history!
Your sport requires a massive investment of time and money in the workshop, for a relatively small amount of time on the bike. Is that time spent in the workshop part of the appeal to you?
That is an understatement! I have a 12 mile of track and I use all 12 miles. The most important area is the mile measured at around the sixth mile. I am going 350mph+ at the measure mile for only 10.9 seconds.
Our investment time is 90% preparation at the shop for the next event. We had a setback from last year after setting a record of 328mph at the DRLA Speed Week competition, days after I survived a horrific crash at 363mph at the Australia World Speed Trials. We are in the works of rebuilding and seeking sponsors to make history with us! We also have a wonderful team of 18 and everyone has a duty when we’re on and off track. They make my job look easy that’s for sure! In addition, my workshop is in the gym working out and getting every ounce of performance I can give the motorcycle!
Tell us a bit about your bikes(s). What makes them so special?
My bike is a proven performer designed by John Jans, Joe Harralson and AMA Hall of Fame member, Denis Manning, the famed Team “7” Streamliner (aka BUB 7). The American-built streamliner motorcycle is one of a kind. Features a purpose-designed and built 3000cc engine, 500 hp, double overhead cam, four valve per cylinder, turbocharged, 90-degree V4 engine, 25 ft carbon-composite monocoque chassis and Goodyear 450 mph+ tested tyres. This bike has held the motorcycle land-speed record twice from 2006 to 2008 and again from 2009 to 2010. Less than 10 mph separates the top speed achieved by the Team “7” Streamliner and the current record holder (376.363 mph).
Away from bikes, what else keeps you busy?
I enjoy spending time with my husband Ray Garcia and our three Maltese puppies; Speedy, Bentley and Britt. They keep me going full throttle 24/7. We also love to support our community events and have our friend over to enjoy our fun pool when the hot weather comes.
What’s next for you? Are there any other records or challenges in your sights?
Our goal is to become the fastest person and motorcycle. We are testing this year at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah starting in August. Then we prep and pack the motorbike into a container for overseas shipping to Lake Gairdner South Australia for the 30th Annual Speed Week, Dry Lakes Racers Australia (DLRA) on March 23rd to March 27th, 2020.
Find out more about Valerie at: http://www.valeriethompsonracing.com