This week’s Church of MO feature is all about speed. Specifically, we’re taking a look at NASCAR lead machinist Rich Yancy’s quest to have the fastest stock wheelbase Suzuki Hayabusa. Yancy is no stranger to fast motorcycles, and as we turn the clock back approximately 10 years, we see exactly what Yancy has done to his bike, as told by author Patrcick Barnett, because even though the wheelbase might remain stock, virtually nothing else on the Dale Earnhardt Jr. replica has remained that way. Also, to see more pictures of this beautiful Hayabusa, be sure to visit the photo gallery.
One Fast ‘Busa
Rich Yancy’s 260 mph Suzuki Hayabusa
As a lead machinist at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated in Mooresville, North Carolina, Rich Yancy spends his days making the famous Budweiser Number Eight go very fast. Having personally raced everything from RZ350s to GSXR-1100s, with a track-prepped R1 in the garage for weekend fun, Rich decided in 2001 he wanted to build a genuine 200 MPH street bike.
So he ordered up a Mr. Turbo kit for his stock ‘Busa and started the journey that has seen him push the frontier of motorcycle speed ever outward, constantly traveling in uncharted territory. No one has ever gone this fast on a stock wheel-based machine. At least not before Rich and a few friends got to thinking…
On October 30, 2005, Rich Yancy’s Suzuki Hayabusa tripped the timing lights on the monster mile in Maxton, North Carolina at 260.28863 MPH to become the fastest open-wheel motorcycle in history. Producing over 475 horsepower from the Mr. Turbo-assisted power plant at the rear wheel, the scariest part of the equation is that the bike runs a stock wheelbase, and is totally street legal.
A fact I can attest to, having ridden the insane red beast on the quiet rural country roads outside Charlotte, North Carolina. With the turbo in place, Rich traveled to Maxton for an East Coast Timing Association event in late 2001.
With the bike producing 270 horsepower he came home with a recorded top speed of 178 MPH.
At the same event, land speed racing guru Scott Guthrie easily topped 200 MPH on the machine, which proved the bike’s potential to Rich. He was hooked.
Joining the exclusive 200 MPH club in the spring of ’02, Rich finished the year with an outright top speed of 211 MPH.
During the following winter, the bike was torn down and the engine was rebuilt with the help of Charlotte performance mastermind and racer Lee Shierts. By the beginning of the ’03 season the crazy-fast bird of prey was making 360 rear-wheel horsepower with 12 pounds of boost on the dial. With these latest tuning enhancements Rich obtained a 224 MPH run, but he also picked up an alarming weave. With no desire to add extended swing arms, air shifters and the like, Rich thought that he might have found the bike’s limits. Wrong!
Jumping on the bike, Top Fuel Drag racer Wayne Pollack immediately clicked off a 227 MPH pass, in spite of scaring the living shiznit out of himself as the bike sawed its way through the timing lights. Back in the pit, street tires were fitted, and set to road riding pressure as Wayne deduced the slicks weren’t getting up to temperature in just a mile. He was right. Back on the monster mile he nailed a 236.7 MPH run, and a few weeks later 242 MPH.
With the boost turned up to 18.5 pounds, the bike was thumping over 420 horsepower to the floor, and Rich put in yet another call to Lee Shierts. As fast as Pollack was, he is a pretty big guy and was impeding the ‘Busa’s potential. Weighing well under 140 pounds soaking wet, the diminutive Shierts is a former professional road racer, and positively knows no fear.
Lining up at the Maxton mile in October of ’03 he rode the bike to a mind-blowing 250.00694 MPH. Setting the Internet ablaze and appearing on the cover of America’s largest motorcycle publications, Rich Yancy’s ‘Busa had pushed its own record to an even higher level.
That could have been the end of the story, but Lee and Rich decided the bike still had more potential. Over the next season, Lee and Scott Guthrie started edging toward the 260 MPH mark, ending ’04 with a staggering top speed of 256.410 MPH and a personal best for Rich of 244 MPH.
The bike was now producing an incredible 455 horsepower at the rear wheel, and over the winter it underwent a thorough rebuild in preparation for the 2005 season, as Yancy wanted more.
Exactly one year to the day of his 256 MPH run, Lee Shierts lined up on the old WWII runway in Maxton, NC once more, with the empty strip of badly-broken tarmac in front of him. Surrounded by waist-high weeds and the carcasses of old passenger planes, it is a lonesome place at best. But Lee wasn’t paying any attention to the surroundings. With exactly one mile to get up to speed, he wasted no time dropping the hammer and spinning the rear tire, riding the first half-mile with the front wheel in the air.
Way down at the timing marks the silence was almost eerie. The high temperatures and near 100% humidity were oppressive, and in the distance the old planes shimmered in the heat haze.
It started as a low whistle, building to a sound similar to a rain suit flapping in the wind before invading the air with the roar of a muted jet plane. Traveling 35 MPH faster than a Concorde at liftoff, Lee was through the timing lights before the sound arrived, fighting to get the two-wheeled bullet slowed before he ran out of stopping room.
He had topped out at precisely 260.28863 MPH, lived to tell the tale and set a record that could stand for a very long time.
It was without doubt an incredible moment, and one that might not be beaten for a long time to come. Inspecting the bike after the record run, Rich noticed a large gash in the rear tire, and the rubber worn through to the cords. The bright red Hayabusa had cheated death for the last time, as it has now been retired because Rich feels it has achieved as much as it can.
With a massive investment of time and money over the last five years, Rich says it’s time to kick back and do some drag racing and the occasional track day. And who can blame him? Beginning with a stock Suzuki Hayabusa, in five years Rich Yancy did what many people have tried and failed to do. He built a street legal motorcycle that is capable of topping 260 MPH.
Believe it or not, my day came and I seized the chance to ride this insane machine. Shifting cautiously through first, second, and into third before nailing the throttle, the ‘Busa hurtles forward as if shot from a cannon, and there is no sensation of being connected to the ground. The handlebars start dancing in my hands as I force myself to hang on until the boost gauge hits 15 pounds, which translates to 380 horsepower at the rear wheel.
I jam the shift lever into fourth, hoping for some relief from the massive force propelling me forward at such an alarming rate. No chance! Fourth gear just gives more of the same, and the bars start dancing again as the front wheel says goodbye to terra firma. The boost gauge climbs rapidly and the bike tops 180 MPH with two gears to go! With everything in hyperactive fast forward, I force myself to stay on the throttle a fraction longer and a quick look shows me that the boost needle has hit fifteen. At this point I back off. In an instant the madness ends. The six-pot calipers crush down on the stock discs and the Bud ‘Busa comes rolling easily to a halt. I had just ridden the fastest street bike on the planet, and might never be the same again.
The Down and Dirty on This Birdy
Running a stock wheelbase, with an Ohlins rear shock and fork internals, Rich’s ‘Busa rolls on Dymag wheels and street tires. Brakes are stock Suzuki fare, with the addition of stainless-steel brake lines and race-compound pads. The bodywork is by Sharkskin and the tank is carbon fiber painted to match Dale Earnhardt Jr’s race car. Being lowered, the bike uses a custom aluminum side stand, and a machined triple clamp with the ignition switched relocated.
The big news is under the bodywork, where the fire breathing Mr. Turbo lives. Currently cranking out 490 bhp with 29 lbs of boost, the motor displaces 1363cc thanks to a set of 2mm oversize JE pistons running 10:1 compression. These ride on Carrillo rods, and stainless steel Ferrea valves are also fitted (stock sized intake valves, with 2mm-larger exhaust valves). Camshafts remain stock, but the head was mildly ported and reassembled with a Cometic head gasket.
The bottom end is standard, as is the transmission, though a Brock-Davidson clutch basket was added to contain the stock plates and heavy-duty springs. A Spearco intercooler was also added, housed in an aluminum icebox fabricated by Yancy’s friend Mike Logan, which adds 30 horsepower. Breathing through a Yoshimura race system, Rich had the pipes and the turbo thermal coated at a local race facility before the bike was reassembled. With the addition of a data acquisition system, the bike is armed, extremely dangerous and ready for flight. If anyone is interested, it’s currently up for sale.