Alan McMurray is all smiles after posting a world record run at the World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

Alan McMurray is all smiles after posting a world record run at the World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

Sequim patriarch helps team earn two world records

Racing on Bonneville Salt Flats

SEQUIM — Sequim resident George McMurray isn’t giving up on motorcycles just yet, but he admits his days of trying to set speed records is likely over.

Fortunately the team seems to be in good hands, with McMurray’s son Alan helping the multi-generational team Tri-Mac Speedsters earning not one but two world records at the Speed Week World Finals event at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in late September and early October.

“The salt was better than its ever been: dry, hard, smooth. It’s fast,” McMurray said. “(The bike) just ran flawlessly.”

McMurray started racing and competing in 2010 and earned world records at Speed Week during its primary event held annually in early August.

In 2017, the Tri-Mac Speedsters — consisting of George and sons Alan (driver) and Daniel (crew) and wife Connie (logo designer/supporter) — lost their record to an Australian team. Since then, the team had tried to regain the record in their classification APS-BF 100c. (The division header stands for special chassis, partial streamline blown fuel, 100cc displacement).

Each year, Speed Week hosts a secondary event, World Finals, that takes place a couple of months later, giving racers a second chance at setting world marks. COVID-19 kept a number of international teams from competing but the races continue to be held with guidelines in place, McMurray said.

Weather at World Finals can be a bit more challenging — Speed Week in early August can hit 100 degrees, McMurray said, while this World Finals event dropped to 46 degrees and had the first day wiped out by 30-mile-per-hours winds.

On the first day of racing, Tri-Mac Speedsters suffered a major engine problem, dubbed “cold seizure,” caused by the lower-than-normal temperatures to their bike — one made of the team’s own design from a 1985 Yamaha RX50 (chassis and wheels) and parts from a 1975 Kawasaki KE125 and a 1993 Yamaha YZ-125 (“we call the engine “Kawayama,”McMurray noted.)

“When you’re’ working with (these kinds of) engines, more things can go wrong,” he said.

That held true for McMurray’s team: the bike’s back wheel locked up on a training run, but Alan — a former skateboarder and snowboarder — stayed on the bike and slowed it rather than “dumping” it, McMurray noted.

“He’s really good on the bike,” McMurray said of Alan.

Fortunately, a team racing Harley Davidson bikes helped McMurray and crew using muriatic acid to help shed some of the aluminum build-up on their damaged cylinder.

On day two, after two relatively slow (85 mph) passes, Alan McMurray put the Tri-Mac Speedsters’ bike on the course and recorded a 112-mile second mile, one mile per hour better than the Australians’ record. The average of two runs are required to secure the world record, however.

Alan McMurray is all smiles after posting a world record run at the World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

Alan McMurray is all smiles after posting a world record run at the World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

The process, McMurray said, goes that record-setting vehicles are “impounded” until 7 a.m. the next day, when teams can run a second time. On day three, Alan and the Tri-Mac Speedsters recorded a 116-mile-per-hour mile, pushing the new world record to 114 mph.

Going ‘naked’

With a record in hand and another day to go, McMurray and crew decided to try for a record in another classification. Speed World organizers allow for a class change, so the Tri-Mac Speedsters stripped off the aluminum siding that helps with aerodynamics to run “naked,” he said, in the A-BF 100cc class.

Alan raced the bike to a 102-mile-per-hour first run — the previous record was 94 mph — and, with the final run of World Finals, clocked in at 104 mph, setting the average at 103 and a second world record.

Two records? “It’s not common,” McMurray noted.

He said he soon got a note from the Australian team congratulating the Tri-Mac crew.

“They’re just good folks,” he said.

McMurray, who last raced at Speed Week in 2020, will take a proverbial back seat to Alan, a mechanical engineer who works in the industrial refrigeration business in Ballard, when it comes to racing the bike.

The team might try to mix things up in coming years, McMurray said; he’s considering adding a sidecar to the bike to compete in another class. Drivers don’t race with a person in the sidecar but they have to be built to support another person, he said.

“It’s slower … but it’d still be a fun ride.”

Background

McMurray was an aerospace engineer for years until he and family moved from the Mojave Desert area in California to Sequim around 2000. He then settled his family because of the area’s good schools.

Racing is in the family blood: His brother Joe, who died in 2000, helped spur the family into the sport. George, Joe and another brother, Jim, formed the Tri-Mac Speedsters, the team name McMurray still uses.

A longtime mechanic who built a clientele from those looking to finish projects — everything from massive upgrades to vintage vehicles to “prototypes” such as a special seeding device, CD disc polisher and underwater camera robot — McMurray first visited Bonneville in 2008. Looking over the flat, 40-square-mile topography of salt crust near Wendover, Utah, inspired him to try his hand at speed records.

Most operations are home-based operations, he noted, with no prize money but personal pride, bragging rights and one’s name in a record book at stake.

With professional rider Jen Boller at the handlebars, McMurray’s bike set a world record just two years later, in 2010, but encountered problems the next two years. In 2013, he set a record at Bonneville in the “blown fuel” classification.

McMurray had done some speed testing of his bike at the Sequim Valley Airport, but now uses land in Eastern Washington made available by a wheat farming friend.

The long strips of ag land has a particular advantage, McMurray said: “You can see animals in advance.”

Tri-Mac Speedsters sponsors include Maxima Racing Oils, Port Angeles Power Equipment, In Graphic Detail, A-1 Auto, Dog House Powder Coating and Sailing S Orchards, among numerous friends and other supporters.

For more about Speed Week and World Finals, visit scta-bni.org.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

Alan, left, and George McMurray bring their world record-setting bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

Alan, left, and George McMurray bring their world record-setting bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy of George McMurray

More in Entertainment

The Teahouse at Mikayo’s Garden will be part of the 2024 Petals and Pathways Garden Tour. (Cathy Wagner)
Petals and Pathways features home gardens

Master gardeners will be available at all six locations

Steampunk Festival returns to Port Townsend this weekend

The Steampunk Festival and the Summertide Solstice Art Festival highlight this weekend’s… Continue reading

Scholarship winners to perform at Monday Musicale

Monday Musicale will meet for lunch at noon Monday.… Continue reading

Sisters Elisa Barston, Amy Barston are part of Trio Hava, which also includes pianist John Blacklow. They will play this weekend during Concerts in the Barn in Quilcene.
Concerts in the Barn returns this weekend

The Concerts in the Barn series will return for an… Continue reading

Port Townsend artist Sue Gale hangs one of the 16-inch by 60-inch banners now on display at the Peninsula Fiber Artists’ Fiber Habit walk-by exhibit at 675 Tyler St. in Port Townsend. Most pieces in the exhibit are available for purchase directly from the artists.
Walk-by fiber arts on display in Uptown Port Townsend

Several members of Peninsula Fiber Artists are participating in… Continue reading

Summertide Solstice Art Festival set for Saturday

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will host the… Continue reading

Steampunk Festival to celebrate 10th anniversary this weekend

The 10th Steampunk Festival will return to Port Townsend… Continue reading

Hog Wild event bringing circus theme to fundraiser

In what’s being described as a touch of Cirque… Continue reading

Cabled Fiber & Yarn will host Sierra Kreun, owner and designer of All Knit Up Designs, on Saturday during the Second Saturday Art Walk in Port Angeles.
Second Saturday Art Walk today in Port Angeles

The Port Angeles Arts Council will host Second Saturday… Continue reading

Sheryl Goldsberry, whose work, “Beach Breakfast,” is shown here, is the Port Ludlow Art League’s artist of the month for June.
Reception to be held for Port Ludlow artist of month

The Port Ludlow Art League will host a reception… Continue reading

Port Angeles Maritime Festival this weekend

The Port Angeles Maritime Festival highlights a weekend of events on the… Continue reading

Christopher Houlihan will perform an organ concert Thursday evening in Port Angeles.
Pipe organ recital set Thursday in Port Angeles

Christopher Houlihan will perform a pipe organ recital at… Continue reading