When did you first start talking to Denis Manning about piloting his streamliner?
My interest was piqued back in late October or early November  when Denis Manning put out a press release, asking for people to inquire about going after the land speed record in his streamliner. So, I inquired, and he called me back.
As far as you’re concerned, what’s the appeal of chasing the land speed record?
The appeal for me goes back several years. I had talked with Kenny Tolbert many times about going to Bonneville to experience it and maybe to set a land speed record on something that was dirt-track oriented. We talked about it, but we just put it off until, ‘Hey, we’re done racing. Let’s go do this for fun.’ But this piqued my interest. I remember that “On Any Sunday” had more of an impact on my life than just the flat track segements in it, but also the segment with Cal Rayborn going up and down the salt and setting a world record – and Denis built that bike – so, it goes back a long way for me. It really does.
Have you met with Manning in person? Have you even sat in the machine yet?
I actually met with him at his shop in Grass Valley, California, January 10 and 11. I was accompanied by Kenny Tolbert and by Mike Shattuck, the former owner of Harley-Davidson of Sacramento. I sat in it, and we did some preliminary measurements and just kind of talked everything out. We asked a bunch of questions and met all the people who have had a hand in building this particular machine. We talked to the whole crew. This isn’t just a one or two-guy effort. This is a whole group of people who put a lot of time and effort into this particular motorcycle. In the end, I liked what I saw. I like the people who are involved in this project, and I like to believe that we have a really good chance at making some history. That’s what Denis wants, and I wouldn’t do this just for the thrill of going 300 mph. I want to set a world record. I want to win.
While the fatality rate in land speed racing has been low, there are no guarantees at 300 mph.
Some people think that I’m nuts for attempting this, but after looking at the bike and looking back at what I put myself through on a weekly basis, I see no reason why this is any more dangerous than what I’m currently doing on a weekly basis. If anything, it might be a bit safer, to be perfectly honest with you. I don’t think that I’m putting myself or my family at any greater risk level than I normally do. I’m looking forward to it.
What do you think it will feel like going that fast?
I have no idea. I know what it’s like tucked in and coming out of a double draft on a mile, but I’ve never been encapsulated in a vehicle and gone triple or quadruple, or whatever, of the speed limit. I’m certainly intrigued by what it’s going to feel like going over 300 mph. I certainly want to know what it feels like doing 330 mph [the current record is 322.150 mph]. I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought that we couldn’t come out of this with the record.
Have you had the chance to see the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian,” about the life of land speed racer Burt Munro yet?
I saw it after agreeing to do this. It was a great movie. It’s truly an inspirational story, and I have a whole different appreciation for people who do this. No pun intended, but they’re the salt of the earth. They’re a little different, but in a lot of ways they’re a lot like flat trackers. They’re doing something that they love to do, not for getting rich or whatnot, but to put their name next to a speed that says they’re faster than anybody else. I hope to experience that.