Tragedy struck in New England this summer when motorcycle racing legend Bill Warner was killed while attempting to set a new land-speed record on his modified supercharged Suzuki Hyabusa. The 44-year-old racer from Wimauma, Florida crashed on July 14 at the Maine Event, held at the former Loring Air Force Base.
Well-known in the racing community, Warner was the first man to pilot a conventional motorcycle to speeds in excess of 300 mph on a 1.5 mile track in 2011. His mind-blowing run of 311 mph set the bar and may be out of reach for many years to come. But to Warner, records were meant to be broken – even his own.
This year, Warner attempted to top 300 mph again, but this time over the span of just one mile on the same land-speed track in Limestone, Maine. Sadly, he died after crashing. Reports indicate he was clocked at 285 mph when his bike suddenly veered off course. Rider and bike slid 1,000 feet through the grass before coming to a stop in a cloud of dust. Rescue crews rushed to the scene. Remarkably, they found Warner alert and able to speak. He was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a local hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead about an hour later.
In an interview after his record-breaking run in 2011 Warner said, “The big part of it, after the speed happens, is trying to stop the bike,” he said. “Here at Loring Air Force Base, there is a mile shutdown to slow the vehicles down and I used every bit of it. The bike was bouncing, hopping, skipping and sliding. Needless to say, I got it stopped safely. It was a little scary.”
Whether racing or simply enjoying a weekend cruise, MotorEagles reminds all riders to be mindful of stopping distances. Depending on the type of bike you have, going from 60-0 mph on dry pavement may require anywhere from 100 to nearly 200 feet. Remember, a motorcycle’s weight, type of brakes, and road conditions should all be taken into account.
“Record-holding motorcycle racer dead after crashing bike while attempting 300 mph at Loring” by Mario Moretto, Bangor Daily News, July 15, 2013.
“The Effect of Motorcycle Type on Braking Distance” Motorcycle-Vermont, November 12, 2013.