JOHNSON VALLEY — Justin Leineweber grew up in a fast family, but he’s something special: world-record fast. Racing-142-miles-per-hour fast. And he’s just 20 years old.
Leineweber, who lives in Johnson Valley with parents Jim and Joyce, set three world records in the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah last month. Every year, the fastest men and women on motorcycles gather for the speed trials. The goal is to set speed records, and Leineweber did just that.
Justin Leineweber has paid his dues on dirt bikes and street bikes, and was ready for a new challenge. He figured that preparing for a career as a firefighter/paramedic only took up about 12 hours a day with classes and training, so he had some extra time to kill.
His dad, Jim — a drag racer, a Bonneville racer back in the 1960s and a machinist for the fastest Harley Davidson motors in the country — knew just the hobby for Justin: land speed racing.
Since Jim’s pal Carl Stephens had a 750-cubic-centimeter Triumph in an old Suzuki frame, they thought Justin would like to fix up the old project and see what the bike would do. After some time prepping the bike, and some early success at El Mirage dry lake, they decided to head for the big time and go to Bonneville.
They arrived Aug. 24 and after passing technical inspection and gear check, they were ready for the 5-mile-long Mountain Course for bikes running less than 175 mph.
The initial runs were strong, and Justin set two records: one in the non-streamlined gas class around 134 mph, and the second in the non-streamlined fuel class at about 133 mph. By the morning of Aug. 28, Jim and Justin Leineweber were ready to bolt on the equipment that moved them into the partially streamlined fuel class, and by midday, Justin had a world record of 142.65 mph.
Justin then prepped the bike for one more record attempt in the partially streamlined gas class late in the day, but Mother Nature had other thoughts. A huge stormfront was already on the horizon, and by 4 p.m. the flagman announced the day was cancelled. The racers and their crews hustled to their cars and trailers and waited for the pounding rain to end. When the storm passed about an hour later, they emerged to wade through an inch of water over the salt flats.
But nothing could dampen Jim and Justin’s spirits, as the father and son had set three records at Bonneville. Two of their records were broken by competitors, but they held on to the best record of 142.65 mph when the week was over.
What’s next for speedy Justin Leineweber? He’s already talking to other bike owners with bigger, faster bikes to see if he might be able to ride for them next year. His 2014 goal? Two-hundred mph or more.