Flat Out: The Race for the Motorcycle World Land Speed Record book99

By Rocky Robinson

255 pages, $25.95

Motor Books Int’l, copyright 2007

by Sev Pearman

Have you ever “cracked the ton” on your bike? Raced it on a track? Just how fast can you go on a motorcycle? For a select group of builders, mechanics and riders, this is the only question. These elite teams focus their energies into breaking the motorcycle world land speed record. No other pursuit matters.

Flat Out is the true account of Rocky Robinson’s effort to be the fastest man on two wheels. A professional motorcycle racer, Mr. Robinson teamed up with BUB Exhaust magnate Denis Manning to pilot the Tenacious II and Big Red streamliners. The author describes, in riveting first-person, their endeavor to set a new record at the mythical Bonneville Salt Flats.

Mr. Robinson writes with intimacy and hair-raising detail. You feel his frustration when he has to abort a run due to mechanical gremlins. You share his vulnerability as he hurtles down the salt out of control, and thrill when he makes a successful pass.

It is incredibly difficult to exceed 300 miles-per-hour. Specific, detailed requirements must be met in order for a new record to be recognized. The 318 mph mark was set in 1974 (Don Vesco) and stood for 16 years. Dave Campos raised the bar to 322 mph and held it for another 16 years. Just what did it take for Rocky Robinson to break that record in September 2006 and set the bar at a mind-melting 344 mph?

After a decade of driving for Denis Manning, Robinson suddenly switched teams and drove for Mike Akatiff in the Ack Attack streamliner. Why the change? The author bravely chooses to share how he lost his ride in 2005. Rather than suppress his feelings, he pours his heart out and shares both anger and anguish. Like most successful leaders, he looks to the future, knowing that “other opportunities would eventually present themselves.”

Flat Out is a scorcher. You are along for the ride as Rocky Robinson hurtles down the salt at almost six miles-per-minute. Recommended if you like first-person accounts of struggle, setbacks, triumph and glory. Mandatory reading if you have any interest in motorcycle competition. Three-and-half out of four cylinders.

Verdict: Club Racer – Robinson’s got some serious stones.

Motorhead – Discover the inner-workings of a m/c streamliner.

Speed Week Freak – Straps you in and lights the fuse.

MMM welcomes your ideas for future book reviews. Send your suggestions to: sev@motorbyte.com Please put “Book Review” in the subject heading.

M.M.M.

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