Speed: it’s all about how fast you go. In the case of Valerie Thompson of Team Valerie Thompson Racing and her BMW S1000RR, it appears she can go very, very fast. Her latest speed record was achieved on March 24, 2013, when the young lady from Arizona set a terminal speed figure of 212mph in just one mile.
The venue for this remarkable achievement – and Valerie’s personal best top speed to date – was Beeville, Texas at the heavily attended Texas Mile speed event and earned her and the BMW RR entry into the prestigious and exclusive “Texas Mile 200 MPH Club.” The fact that Valerie set a new top speed record in the modified 1000cc class is no small feat when you consider that the RR could, with the inclusion of indicators, be ridden to and home from the event.
How did she first get to the start line of this top speed crusade? “I dipped my toe at land speed racing ages ago and at least once a year at Bonneville Salt Flats as a paid or guest rider for teams with drag race bikes,” said the 38-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona. “But it wasn’t until a land speed record chaser asked if I wanted to try his BMW sports bike that I realized how smooth and fast they were – that’s when I was bitten by the BMW bug. If I had started professionally straight line racing back then I’d be riding a lot faster now. But what I’ve achieved in under two years with the S1000RR, I guess I can’t complain because I’m running my own team.”
Going from that point and on to become one of the fastest ladies of motorcycling also takes nerve, something she tempered into surgical sharpness by competing in America’s competitive NHRA Pro stock drag racing series. Believe us when we say cleanly launching a 340HP V-twin behemoth from a standing start takes some nerve. It also means she needs to be fit to cope with an S1000RR on full charge
Valerie works out by running and gym work with weights for cardio and muscular effect. Eating and drinking healthily also pays dividends; as she says, “If you feel good physically you instantly feel mentally charged and prepared. This is especially true when at the line ready to commit to full throttle for one mile and a few seconds.”
For 2013, Valerie and her RR have moved from the Stock 1000cc In-line Four-cylinder class to the Modified class. This class allows the barest of technical changes in order for new competitors to move seamlessly and with minimal cost onto the next step of the competition ladder. For Valerie, retaining her S1000RR was important and so she dipped into the expanding BMW Motorrad HP (High Performance) Race Parts catalog. The end result was the fitment of a race specification ECU to increase the rev range and the ignition and fueling to work in conjunction with the HP-Akrapovic replacement performance exhaust. These additions have helped boost the RR’s peak performance output to competition-spec 195HP.
Other additions to the Team Valerie Thompson Racing S1000RR include a locally sourced lowering kit to reduce the RR’s overall height to accommodate Valerie’s slight 5ft-4in (1,625.6mm) build. It’s a little tricky to balance even a light weight S1000RR on tip-toes and achieve good, instant drive from the line. Other changes include altering the final drive gearing to suit the various lengths of circuit she competes at and racing fuel for maximum burn and cooler running. Valerie also uses the standard RR Sport fitment HP Gear-Shift Assist system to shorten engine down time when shifting up through the box.
“All the extras are needed to progress further if, like me, someone gets the competition bug,” said Valerie. “But the beauty of professionally organized events is that they are open to all comers and virtually every class of machine. To me this is a brilliant idea because it allows friends to compete in safety. The argument that ‘my bike is faster than yours’ can be settled once and for all – with official timing and speed figures to back up the result.
“Even now, I still get a big buzz at the start of an event. It’s not just about machine preparation or being mentally psyched to get it right. There are many other influencing forces to take into account, such as wind direction, gearing, shifting at the right revs and so on. Getting all these right adds to the excitement.”
Straight line racing is an exciting sport that is increasing in popularity. Not just in the USA but across the globe as authorities and motorcycling groups form productive partnerships to actively promote safe motorcycling. Decommissioned runways are nearly always the venue because of their length – not just for top speed records but also for lengthy coast down areas after a high speed run. It’s a simple formula: you pays your money and go – fast!
So how has Valerie’s S1000RR fared now it’s entering into another full season? “Oh perfect. Regular servicing and the set up of the bike with the HP Race Parts has all been done by my local Scottsdale BMW Motorrad dealer GO AZ Motorcycles. They’re good guys and look after me and my bike like a professional race team would. I can’t thank them enough.”
Next on the agenda for the Princess of Speed is a serious season of competition events across the USA. We call her the Princess of Speed because only when she is officially crowned the fastest lady in the world can she be Queen of Speed. In all seriousness, this is something that could be on the horizon because Valerie is an official reserve rider/pilot for the North American Eagle, an American team attempting to break the World Land Speed Record of 763mph in a land-based converted F-104A-10 Starfighter jet, and powered by a modified General Electric LM 1500 Turbojet producing 52,000HP (52,721.22 HP/metric) of power/thrust!
In the meantime, Valerie Thompson is not resting on her laurels and continues to chase her dream of being the fastest in class. Isn’t it good to know BMW Motorrad’s road-biased sports bike S1000RR has gained yet another accolade on circuit? Success breeds success.