Celebrating 50 years of record breaking!
On 24th September this year and with Roadrunner III on display at the National Motorcycle Museum, Norman will be reunited with his outfit for a day to celebrate his world record-breaking ride.
Come and join us at the museum between 10.00am until 3.00pm on 24th September, where all TOMCC members will get half price admission on the day into the museum.
Fifty years ago on 24th September 1972, our T.O.M.C.C. Patron Norman Hyde, wheeled his nitro-methanol burning 830cc Trident-powered outfit ‘Roadrunner III’ onto the runway at the RAF base of Fairford in Gloucestershire. The home of Concorde. He was going to attempt to break the flying kilometre world speed record held by George Brown at 158.23 mph.
To be officially recognised by the F.I.M., Norman had to beat Brown’s existing record by at least one-per-cent (more than 1.58 mph). No stranger to breaking speed records, he already held numerous British and World records, all set on a number of different capacity Triumph-engined machines. But this was going to be the big one. He wanted to become the fastest sidecar rider in the world.
Preparing Roadrunner III for the record attempt had only been completed just three days before the event was to take place. Over 250 hours of planning had gone into it including Norman slimming down to the lightest weight he had been for more than five years.
Being a Triumph factory development engineer at Meriden, the company had given him their backing and Don Woodward, who made fuel tanks for the works road race bikes, fashioned the alloy streamlining for the machine.
On the start line at RAF Fairford, the first challenge was to be the standing quarter mile record and Norman launched Roadrunner III off the line with the front wheel pawing the air a foot off the ground. Records had to be set over two runs held within one hour, one each way, and after averaging 11.51 seconds (78.19 mph) over the two, he had set new World and British records. Things were looking good and next in line was the standing kilometre record.
On standing starts and due the sheer power of the three-cylinder Trident engine, Norman was leaving the line on full right-hand lock for the first 80 yards. Undeterred, after two runs the old record was gone and with an average of 21.285 seconds and 105.09 mph, he now held a new world standing kilometre record to go with the standing quarter mile one he had just taken. Two down now, just the big one to go. The flying Kilometre.
With a fairly strong wind blowing up and down the runway, Norman set the fuel at 25 percent nitro and with the wind at his back the first run was completed at 158.8 mph, meaning he had to pick up more than 5 mph into the wind on the return. Accordingly, the nitro content was upped to 37.5 percent.
Despite the wind giving him problems in keeping the outfit in a straight line and the front wheel lifting on reaching top speed, Norman kept the Trident engine screaming flat out as Roadrunner III shot through the timing lights. A check of the timing sheet showed he had missed out on the record by just 0.2 mph!
With records being calculated on the two last runs, Norman decided to try for a third one. The three-cylinder engine was hot and the team removed the spark plugs before pushing the machine around in gear to let cool air enter directly into the cylinders. At the start of the run the engine spluttered onto two cylinders, but luckily Norman managed to pull up before going through the marker boards. A change of spark plug made no difference and just as he was about to call it a day, the engine began to fire on all three. This really was the last chance.
With a red hot motor that may be on the point of seizing, Norman had to decide whether to ride with two fingers on the clutch lever or hang on tightly to the left handlebar in an attempt to control the outfit at speed.
There was around a kilometre of run up before entering the timed section and in Norman’s own words, “I never looked at the road. My eyes were firmly glued to the revcounter. 8,100, 8,2, 8,3, 8,4, 8,5. I thought for Christ’s sake keep going.”
Thankfully it did and he had taken the record with a run of 13.93 seconds one way and 13.72 the other, giving an average of 13.825 for both runs and a new world record speed of 161.80 mph.
All he had to do then was pay £5 to the F.I.M. for the parchment certificate in both French and English to prove it!
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