After prayerful consideration, Randy Speranza decided to forgo racing his bike at El Mirage this fall. But when he showed up for work one Monday and there were no more assignments for the rest of the week, he interpreted it as God’s signal for him to go race Nov. 9-10.
A veteran of land speed racing at El Mirage in California and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Speranza packed his shiny Harley Davidson steed and commenced a 1,030-mile one-way drive from his Clearwater home all for the chance to race for 20 to 30 seconds.
With the bike running well, it didn’t occur to him to pack one of any number of extra starters at his home-based shop.
The bike passed inspection but when it came time to do his own check through, he said it would not start.
He tried jump starting it. Still, a no go.
After some checking it was determined that the starter was probably bad. Another racer who used Harleys offered an extra starter, but it wasn’t compatible so Speranza’s team cannibalized it with their own, to no avail.
A team member drove to the closest Harley shop to buy a $400 starter but upon returning, realized it was the wrong starter. Speranza then had one built on the spot by his friend Bill at his Chino Hills shop.
But still no vroom vroom.
A questionable cable was then identified and repaired. After a day of troubleshooting the bike finally found its voice late Saturday night. Speranza missed the entire day of racing, but wasn’t torn up over it. He considered God’s hand was in the mix, adding that the dirt course was in questionable condition that day.
“We said a prayer, went to bed, got up in the morning, the bike fired right up,” recalled Speranza.
Though it started, the bike had a leaking CO2 issue, but a race official was urging them to get going.
Speranza was chasing an open record of 164 mph for the following class: sidecar pushrod blown fuel with 2000 cc motor.
Due to the condition of the middle of the course, Speranza felt his best bet was to drive as close as possible to the cones on the right, but that is counterintuitive when traveling around 170 mph. Typically, the mind revolts at the thought of driving toward objects.
The bike never really hit its full stride but as he turned off the course a race official came up and told him he ran a 172 (172.461 mph).
“So we were pretty dang excited after everything we went through and everything I’ve been through physically and mentally with all my health conditions. To come back and get a record at the last meet of the year was awesome,” said Speranza, who has recovered from multiple surgeries to repair an aorta dissection.
He is scheduled to undergo another heart surgery on Dec. 10 to repair some dissections that could not be fixed during earlier surgeries.
He said his doctor told him that one of the previous procedures may have caused some brain damage, but Speranza said people have been saying for a while he has brain damage because he drives more than 2,000 miles round trip to race for a half minute and earn a coveted blue record sheet.
Setting a new record makes it all much sweeter. “It makes the ride home awesome. It’s very fulfilling and makes the ride shorter and more enjoyable for sure,” said Speranza.
He also got the unofficial award for the best launch of the year because he totally dusted out people at the start.
Racing records are recorded on blue sheets that Speranza files into a white binder. Under the comments section of his latest blue sheet are three words: “God is good.”
That sentiment is not delegated to a single race, but to a lifetime of racing. Speranza’s Harley has set one to six records each year since 2013.
Under its current motor setup he feels there is still another 30-40 mph possible. He plans to spruce up the bike this winter in the quest to reach 200 mph next year.
“Stay tuned for our next adventure. We are going to put together enough motors to run the whole season in 2020 and we’re going to go make a run at the title with the bike at El Mirage.”