Monday, September 22, 2008

Dan Holmes in his own words: Thanks for making 'my dream' come true at Bonneville

Dan Holmes' Bonneville Bullet team put three speed records in the books for Royal Enfield at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah this month. The records were scored with a road racer ridden by Johnny Szoldrak and semi-streamliner ridden by Mark Brownlee. The team was only disappointed that time ran out before more record attempts could be made. I asked Holmes about it and he responded with gratitude for those who made "my dream" possible. Here are his words:

I am briefly recognizing the members of DRS Cycle Race Team and it is with great pleasure I hope to share their patience and enthusiasm that made all of this possible. My gratitude goes out to everyone who contributed in any way.

The fact that we undertook such an ambitious project was a little suspect considering my health. I have to recognize my wife Connie as she has been very patient and understanding when she knows that I press the envelope on the cardio scale.

I know sometimes she feels like I am taking risks and she is probably right. However motorcycle racers don't cry and we only go the hospital when we're gonna die. I take calculated risks and she knows it -- she just questions my judgment.

…I want to thank Glen Kyle, who literally accepted the responsibility to finish the build. Phil Myers had essentially raked the front end. As I remember I had cut the steering head and tacked some plates in or on and Phil made… a butterfly band-aid that he wrapped around the steering head and frame. He had a machine shop tig weld it and it looked like art.

Phil has the amazing ability to produce amazing parts and most of the time they work flawlessly. He also has the amazing ability to take too long, and then I take over and get 'er done. In spite of our differences, Phil and I make a very good team; he respects my judgment and I have the utmost confidence that if and when I ask Phil to do something he does it and does it as well or better than I expected. He is our brainchild (but) do not tell him as he already has a big enough head.

We support each other and this is the fabric that teams are made of.

I can say that Glen, who is so modest that we have to push him into the limelight, is a wonderful mentor and has done so much that it is really an understatement to say he is our hero! It is almost ironic: Glen calls me and asks my opinion frequently and the truth is he is the genius not me!

Glen built the Bonneville bike and the rest of us contributed in refining it. We really had to budget our time & money and the biggest delay was the tuning stage. I have to say that it was gremlins.

We had many challenges to overcome and then when I finally got it running half way right the plug cap failed, the nitrous solenoid failed and then the battery.

Well, in the meantime Phil produced with much help a seat, and for the most part he made the belly pan and fairings himself. This was particularly challenging for Phil as, A. he had his daily responsibilities as the head of engineering at work, and, B. he was forced by management (there) to keep laying off his help... He had to do all of the work himself.

Well it was worth the wait (but) unfortunately it set us back even further as far as scheduling and completion. This created a marathon for me, as I was building the trailer, and the four-wheeler tow vehicle, as well as co-coordinating the final assembly and lettering of the bikes.

Ron Hollingsworth stepped up to the plate and painted the parts on a on-call basis, my father Roger Howk helped me assemble and test our tow vehicle and my son Nathan helped me in numerous ways, such as the graphics on the trailer and the bike. My son Jason pitched in on several occasions and lent a helping hand.

I cannot say enough about my friend and rider Johnny Szoldrak. He worked hand-in-hand with me finishing up and drilling for safety wire on the Bonneville bike. Evening after evening he came 30 miles one-way and all the time knowing that it was not his ride. This was exceedingly generous and in my book was above and beyond the call of duty.

My friend Ed Dovey volunteered at the last moment and had previously loaned his Russian made sidecar rig to Johnny so he could get some hack time before running Kevin Dunn's Triumph in the run-what-ya-brung class at Bonneville. So Ed … came on board and we used him as the gopher: go for this, go for that….

Mark Brownlee from Sherman Tex. was instrumental in … picking up and storing the motorized bicycles that I built in Mission, Tex. He then did anything and everything I asked when setting up. At the salt we realized due to logistics that he could not contribute much on a daily basis, but he is a nice guy and a hard worker. He brought his experience riding on the salt and did his best under the circumstances.

Kevin Mahoney, who is a co-sponsor and the U.S. distributor [of Royal Enfield motorcycles] was an honorary team member, but I have to say we bonded and found a friendship in lieu of a business relationship and he really met muster.

In my haste I had forgotten the fact that we had to have a chain-guard on the road racer (we do not have to have one in AHRMA but we do have to have one in Bub and SCTA). Well, Kevin to the rescue. He had not one but two chain-guards over-nighted to Wendover so we could participate without having to fabricate something.

I also have to say he was completely into the whole experience and contributed when and wherever needed. In fact he will be coming back next year and I would miss him if he was not there.

Needless to say, Bob Hutchinson [Ed: a major backer of the Bonneville effort, the owner and founder of the Wireless Industry Association and the founder of the Classic Motorcycles Association] was there in spirit, if not in person.

We could not have done this without everyone's help and money. I did my part, but really, as I preach all the time, there is no "I" in team. My team is a little high spirited and whenever someone gets a little braggadocio we are right there to kick the stool out from under them. We do, at least sometimes, help 'em back up!

DRS team motto: Don't Tell 'Em, Show 'Em!

P.S.: I rode the road racer in the run-what-ya-brung class and the old fat daddy did 104. I told Johnny that I went 114 mph and let that simmer for awhile before I set the record straight. He sure was relieved.

Daniel Holmes
Classic Motorcycle Assc.

Ed: I'll have more about what Dan Holmes told me next time.

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