Gates Sets New Top Speed Record at the Texas Mile


On March 27, 2010 Tom Gates of La Porte, Texas jumped from #10 on the “Standing Mile Over 200” list to the #1 spot with an amazing run of 261.500 making him the new owner of the all-time record for the standing mile on a motorcycle.

In the world of land speed racing, the standing mile 200mph mark is so passe that it only places you #169 on the all-time list over 200. The 210 mark has a ranking of 78th, 220 the ranking of 40th, 230 the ranking of 24th, and 240 the ranking of 14th. Only seven men held claim to the 250 honors until this weekend. Lee Shierts was the lonely man on top of the boards with his record run of 260.288 set at Maxton back in 2006.

The now holy ground for speed freaks in Goliad, which has only been active for seven years, is certainly the rival to the Maxton Mile at the Laurinburg-Maxton airfield just outside Maxton, North Carolina for top end enthusiasts and now lays claim to the overall motorcycle record. The 8000′ long and 200′ wide surface called the Texas Mile had a previous record of 259.900mph held by Shane Stubbs set last season.

In February of 2009, Tom Gates was the inaugural subject in a new column on entitled “Person of the Week” sponsored by Schnitz Racing. In that interview Tom indicated he was transforming his land speed turbocharged Busa into a Pro Street quarter miler with plans to race in the Hurricane Alley and AMA Dragbike Series. At the end of the 2009 season, he decided to get back to what he was destined to do – land speed racing.

After selling off all his top end equipment, he started buying it all back and making wholesale changes to get him to the top of the game. In a mad dash that only started three months ago, chassis changes where trusted to McIntosh Racing along with the addition of their swingarm. RCC supplied the new Super Ultra turbo kit, JE Pistons their new Sever Duty turbo pistons, along with valve springs from Bob Carpenter. The use of stock cases, stock head and crank, and a set of Carrillo rods completed the engine package. After a clean black paint job by Colt Bateman, they were off to the Texas Mile.

As the Suzuki Hayabusa was off loaded the goal this year was to use finesse as opposed to Tom’s usual balls out, go for broke approach. With a winner take all purse up for grabs on Saturday, the plan was for easy runs on Friday towards a run at the record starting Saturday. On Friday, the first shakedown pass was an effortless 189mph pass. Run #2 with a gradual boost increase from gear to gear netted a 221 pass followed by a 244mph run to round out the day.

Saturday was the money day. Right out of the box on the first pass of the day and only the fourth pass of the new bike, Tom laid down the record breaking pass of 261.500mph. The next morning, Tom was on what he knew was a better run when he clicked it off into 6th gear, the bike shut off. After a quick inspection at 200+mph, he discovered that the kill switch had been knocked into the off position by the tether as it got caught in the wind.

Tom’s winnings were sequestered by wife, Cindy.
The remainder of Sunday turned out to be windy, so Tom called it a day, took the cash and left the Texas Mile as the new undisputed king of the standing mile. Tom would like to extend his appreciation for this honor to first, Jesus Christ, then his lovely wife Cindy, his longstanding faithful crew of Chris Brandon, who did all the welding and wiring, and Mark Dearza. In addition he could not have pulled this off without the help of Ryan Schnitz of Schnitz Racing who worked with Penske to develop a new shock and was on hand to lend his expertise throughout the project. Tom would also like to thank his other sponsors Richard Pettler of RCC Turbos and Mike Gelt of Third Coast Speed.

Standing Mile races are becoming more popular and will boast five events this year. In addition to the Texas Mile and the Maxton Mile, there are additional events in Miami, Mohave (California) and Elvington in the United Kingdom.

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