Dennis Tackett's Record Bonneville Run

Below is the bike Dennis rode to a Bonneville Speed Record in 2007!
Click on photo to enlarge.

Ed Mabry frame with a 650cc Triumph engine

Left to right: Keith Martin, Dennis Tackett & Craig Murray

David Fetherston, president of Etherston Publishing, LLC is currently writing and collecting material for the history of motorcycle land speed racing at Bonneville. He asked Dennis about his involvement with Bonneville.  He would like it to be included in his new book.  Here is what Dennis wrote.

Hi David,

Thanks for asking about my small part of Bonneville history. I had gone to Bonneville for several years as a spectator to watch the truly legendary team of Ed Mabry and Jon Minonno set record after record on their Triumphs with the engines built by Jack Wilson at Big D Cycle. If you ask me, that is the real story of Bonneville.

Keith Martin is the owner now of Big D Cycle and my best friend. He obtained one of Ed Mabry’s custom built racers. It is number 607. A 650cc Triumph engine in a stretched out frame with no fairing painted fire engine red. In 2006 He asked me if I would be interested in riding this bike at Bonneville. We road raced together over 10 years on Triumphs for Big D Cycle so I guess he figured I could at least get it down the course without crashing it.

I jumped at the chance. In 2007 we took the bike to Bonneville and entered it in the 650cc pushrod class. As I said I had been a spectator many times at Bonneville so I thought I knew what I was in for. Was I ever wrong! Nothing can prepare you for that first pass on the salt. When I pulled up to the line and looked at the vast expanse of salt ahead of me it was very intimidating. I also had butterflies in my stomach thinking of the history of Ed Mabry and Jack Wilson on this hallowed ground. I didn’t want to let them down or my friend Keith.

We started the bike and rolled it up to the line. The line Marshall looked over the bike, gave me the thumbs up, and pointed me down the salt. I had never ridden the bike before so I was unprepared for actual physical part of it. The bike is built stretched out and as low to the ground. Ed did this to make it as aerodynamic as possible since it had no fairing. When I got on the bike I was stretched out like superman.

After the line Marshal gave me thumbs up I tried to reach my leg back to put my foot on the peg to put it in gear. I panicked! I couldn’t find the peg! The foot position was so far back I couldn’t even turn my head far enough back to see it. Luckily Keith was right there with me. When he saw what was happening he calmly walked up, grabbed my leg, and put my foot on the peg for me. He then walked to the front of the bike, looked me in the eye, smiled, and gave me the thumbs up. I twisted the throttle, took it to the 7000 rpm red line, and dumped the clutch.

It started fishtailing so I back off a little and it immediately gained traction and pushed me back in seat as it accelerated. I took it through the gears but every time I got to red line it started sputtering. I was afraid it was something serious so after mile marker 2 I pulled off the course. Keith pulled up in the chase truck; we loaded up, and then went to timing Marshal. 83.7mph. Not good! We took the bike back to the pits where Keith pulled the spark plugs and determined we were jetted too rich. He changed the jets for a leaner mixture; we loaded up, and then went back to the starting line. This time we had the drill down pat.

The line Marshall gave me thumbs up, Keith put my foot on the peg, and I nailed it. The bike went through the gears flawlessly. I gave it all it would take and reached red line in top gear just at the end of mile marker 2 just as planned. I pulled off the course and Keith pulled up in the chase truck. I was laughing and whooping it up like a school kid. I didn’t know if I set a record yet but I was pumped with adrenalin and over the moon. We loaded up and went to the timing Marshall. He smiled, handed me my timing slip, and said congratulations. I looked and almost teared up I was so happy. 113.506! I set the record!!! On the ride back to the pit I couldn’t help but reflect on the years Ed, Jack, and Jon spent chasing records and now I understood. There’s nothing like Bonneville!

Dennis Tackett

2007 Bonneville Speed Week Records -

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