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Record-Breaking Motorcyclists Who Met Their Need For Speed

Imagine going over 300mph on a motorcycle. While some of us are just fine withe speed limits, some are born to break records. Even as far back as the early 1900’s, there has been a need for speed by those that love the adrenaline rush.

Check out some of the speed demons over the last 100+ years that broke barriers – and speed records. This is not all of the amazing motorcyclists that achieved records – but some of the standouts in the world of land speed racing.

They are listed in speed order, from lowest to highest and include a mix of traditional and modified motorcycles.

Glenn Curtiss

glenn curtiss on a curtiss motorcycle

Glenn Curtiss achieved 136.27 mph on January 24, 1907 at Ormond Beach, Florida using a V8 motorcycle that he created.

Rollie Free

rollie free riding his motorcycle

Rollie Free is best known for setting the American motorcycle one-mile speed record in 1948. He rode a British-made Vincent HRD Black Shadow to a speed of 150.313 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He is also part of what is considered one of the most famous photos in racing due to his desire to free ride wearing only a bathing suit.

Ernest Henne

motorcyclist ernest henne

Ernst Henne set a new World Landspeed Record of 173.68 mph on a 500cc supercharged BMW motorcycle in 1937. This was done on a closed German autobahn.

Burt Munro

burt munro motorcyclist
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Burt Munro set an under 1000cc record of 183.59 mph on an Indian Scout in 1967 at Bonneville Salt Flats.

Erin Sills

Erin sills on her motorcycle
PR Newswire

Twelve-time land speed record holder Erin Sills piloted Hunter Sills Racing’s BMW S1000 RR to 219.3 mph from a standing start on the Mojave Magnum 1.5 mile distance and to 210.1MPH over the Mojave Mile distance.

Hiro Koiso

motorcyclist hiro koiso ready to race
Hiro Koiso Racing / Facebook

Hiro Koiso achieved 226.1 mph on a Harley-Davidson/JIMS motorcycle in the 3000cc A-PBF class in 2017 at Bonneville.

Ralph Hudson

ralph hudson on a motorcycle
Jean Turner

Ralph Hudson was a FIM World Record holder for the fastest run on a non-streamliner motorcycle. He was clocked in 2018 at the speed of 292 mph on the Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia. This feat was accomplished on a Suzuki GSX-R1000-powered motorcycle that was partially streamlined.

Bill Warner

motorcyclist bill warner on his motorcycle

In 2011, Bill Warner set a new world motorcycle land speed record of 311.94 mph. This record took place at the Loring Timing Association’s Land Speed Race, in Limestone, Maine on a modified turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa.

Don Vesco

don vesco silver bird motorcycle

Don Vesco broke the 300 mph barrier in the Silver Bird Yamaha (powered by twin Yamaha TZ750 motors) in 1975. In 1978 he broke his own record, turning 318.59 mph in a twin Kawasaki turbo rig. That record held for 12 years.

Dave Campos

dave campos motorcycle that broke records

Dave Campos set both the AMA and FIM absolute speed records in 1990 with an overall average speed of 322.87 mph. The bike was a 23 ft long streamliner named Easyriders, powered by two Ruxton-Harley-Davidson 1500 cc engines. 

Valerie Thompson

valerie thompson with bub 7 team

Valerie Thompson is a 10x land speed record holder, but in 2018 she broke a new record at the Dry Lake Racers Australia Speed Week competition at Lake Gairdner. Riding the BUB 7 she set a new speed record of 328.467 mph to become Australia’s fastest female streamliner motorcycle racer.

Chris Carr

bub streamliner that broke land speed records

Chris Carr set the wheel-driven record of 367.38 mph on the BUB 7 streamliner in 2009 at Bonneville Salt Flats.

Rocky Robinson

rocky robinson and team with ack attack motorcycle

In 2010, Rocky Robinson and the TOP 1 Ack Attack reached 376.36 mph at the Bonneville Speedway. The TOP 1 Ack Attack is powered by two Suzuki Hayabusa in-line four-cylinder engines that can reach a maximum of 12,000 rpm with a net horsepower of 700 to 900.

Pushing The Boundaries of Motorcycle Stunts

backflips on motorcycle

Adrenaline junkies will do some amazing things! Check out these motorcycle daredevils that do stunts we do not recommend you do at home – or ever.

2025 Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductees

2025 inductees motorsports hall of fame

The 2025 inductees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America have been announced! View the 2025 inductees.

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